What is the Creative Process Behind a Music Video?

May 1, 2013

One of my first office jobs was as an admin assistant in a booking agent’s office. The office of four cast the production side of ads, music videos, West End shows, TV shows and movies. I think that was the order that talent moved up the career ladder.

I on the other hand issued faxes full of typos and almost killed the MD when I bought her aspirin instead of paracetamol. I was there for about 3 months of my GAP year and helped cast the crew for a few (6?) music videos.

I mention this because I really had no idea what I was doing but every now and then I watch a music video on YouTube and wish I knew what sort of creative process the musicians, their agent, their manager, the director and the label went through to get to the final product.

It was much easier in the early to mid-noughties when the Eric Prydz “Call on Me” video came out and the trend was to focus music videos around attractive dancing ladies. But every now and then you get something like this by David Guetta, one of the world’s biggest names in house music:

Its a great song and wonderful use of one of my favourite club tracks (Alice Deejay’s “Better off alone”) but at what point did they think “let’s get some twerking* girls in here among the Mexican cowboys” or “what if we had some beauty pageant contestants licking ice creams? Oh, and we had better give one of them a uni-brow”

Apparently the video is a bit of an homage to a slew of high-art influences, which vaguely explains the crazy-toed boots, but I would love to know what goes through people’s heads the rest of the time. There’s no real story here, at least not in the Modjo “Lady” sense of a story. It’s like someone dropped acid and transcribed their thoughts to someone else who was on magic mushrooms.

Which is fine as well, I’d just like to know how they get there.

Update – here is a making of video with some more context and texture around who the dancers in the video are. Very interesting.

*Laura had to explain to me what the style of dance was called or there would be a far less politically correct term in there…

This is just a comment on the creative narrative and doesn’t take into account how offensive the Mexican community has found this video.

Thursday YouTube Playlist

April 5, 2007

I know it’s not a Friday but I bet many of you are winding down for a nice three or even four (lucky devils) weekend. So I present to you my usual Friday-when-I’m-not-too-busy feature, the YouTube playlist.

Alanis Morissette – My Humps

Haven’t heard this cover version? Check it out along with a pretty funny video.

Tweet – Oops (Oh My)

Some sourthern fried R&B that I listened to a lot at university.

Alient Ant Farm – Movies

Another university favourite that has been getting some good play on my iPod recently.

Ma$e – Feels So Good

This one dates way back to the summer I was backpacking around Europe with two of my best friends. Good times.

Eric Prydz – Call On Me

Very saucy video and a banging house track.

Nas – Hate Me Now

One of my favourite Hip-Hop tunes although I appreciate the video could be a little contraversial for Easter/Passover. This one got a lot of play on the Europe trip. On a Minidisc no less. Remember those?

Goldie Looking’ Chain – Guns Don’t Kill People

…rappers do. The kings of the welsh Hip-Hop scene lay down a smoking tune that’ll have you bouncing at your desk.

Random Friday Music

March 23, 2007

This Friday’s playlist had a savage dance bent to it but I trimmed that back by putting in some Oasis and Radiohead.

I was trying to put in Mylo’s Drop The Pressure but I couldn’t find it on the YouTube.

The tunes that made it are:

1. Badly Drawn Boy – Silent Sigh

I only actually like two songs by Badly Drawn Boy – this one and Four Leaf Clover.

2. Seamus Haji – Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

An absolutely cracking remix of the 70’s disco classic with some really powerful trance beats.

3. Oasis – Morning Glory

Contains the greatest line (no pun intended) ever. “All your dreams are made, when you’re chained to the mirror and the razorblade.”

4. Layo & Bushwacka vs Kings of Tomorrow – (Finally a) Love Story

An ultra funky dance mix with some very cool saxaphone riffs and powerful vocals from Julie McKnight.

5. Radiohead – No Surprises

Love this video. A classic

6. Paul Weller & Amy Winehouse – Heard it Through the Grapevine

I love Paul Weller but hate Amy Winehouse so its surprising that this Marvin Gaye cover is so good.

But I couldn’t find Black Lab’s Mine Again (96 in the Canadian iTune charts last time I checked) for inclusion…

iTunes, myTunes or yourTunes?

March 22, 2007

Today, March 22, 2007 is the day that you, the music consumer, has the opportunity to “reclaim the charts”; to become empowered.

Or so the organisers of Bum Rush The Charts would have you believe.

They claim that by purchasing Mine Again by Black Lab on iTunes you will have stuck one to the man; shown the radio companies who’s boss and landed a killer blow for consumer rights.

And in a way you will have, but I have some problems with this whole initiative, commendable though it is.

1. Hypocrisy.

The thesis behind this idea is that you, the consumer, is taking back the choice of who is in the public eye and therefore, who gets bought the most. No more fancy marketing around a star; no more payola to get bands airplay — no, this time it’s all about the music.

In reality, all that’s happened is that the choice of which acts “make it” has been displaced from the record company and their A&R teams, to a small panel of bloggers with little or no accountability to the consumer.

What if you don’t like Black Lab? Will this panel lose influence? Of course not. What about the A&R guys? Well, if they put out enough dross that doesn’t do well, they could lose their jobs so they are accountable (in the medium term) for their decisions.

2. Noise vs Signal.

The whole point of a chart or league table is to provide a clear signal on what’s popular at the moment. Who is in the mainstream’s consciousness; not who six people with access to self publishing software and an audience find popular.

This sort of initiative on its own gives a good, clear signal on what is popular – after all, a huge number of people are expected to buy the chosen track. But what if this happens every week? What if every week a niche group chooses a song or act to get behind? What if various niches start competing against each other?

The result is, as Mathew Ingram said about Twitter, is an awful lot of noise and precious little signal. It becomes the tyranny of the minority.

3. Not Original

Since the outset of consumer participation there have been countless examples of this sort of protest. The most notable two that I can remember have been the Vote for Rory campaign and the Vote for Beckham campaign.

Vote for Rory tried to vote in a fan favourite, but supremely untalented, Vancouver Canucks hockey player into the 2007 NHL Allstar game. Rory was a hit with the fans but more to do with his work rate and passion than his skills and flair.

The Beckham campaign happened back in the mid to late nineties when a shy, awkward and uncomfortable Beckham was emerging as a football player. Because of his complete lack of personality in front of the media and inability to string more than a few words together if within 30 yards of a television camera, people thought it would be hilariously ironic to get together and vote for him as BBC Sports Personality of the Year through flooding the phone voting lines and postal ballots.

I believe that, in both cases, the wisdom of the crowds prevailed and neither Rory nor David got the TV time their supporters were hoping for.

The BMBY Take

I happen to like Black Lab, their song Ecstasy is one of my favourite songs to work out to. I would have probably have bought the track had my home computer not been on the blink. I like the idea of consumers redressing the balance of power between them and the musical institution in much the way that we did with the Arctic Monkeys, Sandi Thom and Lily Allen.

But I don’t like the way BRTC has been less than transparent about the way they chose this track and I worry when some very intelligent people (list below) blindly get behind an initiative such as this without asking certain questions or raising certain issues. Such as these.

For more information –

…and for a great balanced discussion, Michael Seaton and I “adjusted the pitch” for his podcast. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s available – definitely worth your time.

**UPDATE  – It seems the noise has already started to obscure the signal. Vote For The Worst has succeeded in getting quite possibly the worst “singer” in the history of tragically awful singers into the American Idol Top 10. Someone is so upset she’s going on a hunger strike. Given the choice between eating my ears and hearing this guy *ahem* sing, I’d be grabbing a knife quicker than…someone doing something very quickly.**

Random Friday

March 9, 2007

Thanks to Leona and Bob, here’s my Friday playlist on, where else, YouTube.


House Rules!

February 23, 2007

If you’re in London on Friday March 2, I can strongly recommend you hustle over to the Artesian Well in Clapham for London’s hottest underground dance party – House Rules.

Friends from my university days are hard at work ensuring anyone who goes will have the time of their life with the tracks to go with it.

Gareth Wyn (a resident at super-club Cream), Haran De Lucas, Whaid “Tiesto” Hussain and David’s P, Duffield and Griffiths will be spinning a mix of fresh, funky and downright dirty house music for your entertainment.

I’ve been to a few of these nights, back when they were in Bristol and called “Total Wreckage”. The wreckage was indeed total and they’ve always been a great night out.

If you want to get a feeling for how the night’s going to look, feel and sound, check out the boys’ Web site where you can also download some fantastic hour-long mixes. Whaid’s April 2006 is going to be on my most played list for a while!

If you’re in London, make me jealous and get thee to House Rules.

**UPDATE** Listening to Gareth Wyn’s mix and am getting really annoyed that I couldn’t be at what must’ve been a great night.

Going on Snow Patrol

December 13, 2006

I think one of the bands I’d love to see live would be Snow Patrol. They’re awesome in a cool, laid back, unpretentious sort of way that Coldplay can only dream about now.

Kind of like a quiet older brother who is effortlessly and annoyingly great at everything.

Heard this song, Set the Fire to the Third Bar, while doing some online outreach and editing some wireframes and had to share.

If you’re reading this in a feedreader click here to check out the slightly disturbing and disappointingly cliched video.

I may have some interesting stories tomorrow following the FH Holiday Bash this evening…

New Music

November 23, 2006

A couple of weeks back I posted about a chav mockney toe-rag called Jamie T who’s song, If you got the money, I couldn’t get out of my head.

Since then Mr T has been far and away my most listened to song but The Automatic’s Monster has been seriously challenging its poll position.

I love the song (Monster) but I hadn’t seen the video yet so I went to the YouTube and checked it out. If you’re reading this in a feedreader, click though here and watch the video.

It’s a very cool Beastie Boys meets the Monkees type production with a very funny cameo from Sasquatch. Well worth a few minutes of your time.

However, I also found a second version, this time an animated Lego version that’s absolutely brilliant! Here it is for your viewing pleasure –

I know which one I prefer…

While I’m on the subject of music, can anyone recommend some cool live cover versions of songs done in different genres? I’m thinking Nelly Furtado’s version of Crazy or Travis’ version of Hit Me Baby One More Time?

Dave, Leona, Mitch – any suggestions?

*UDPATE* The search is over. This is the definitive cross-genre cover version. Richard Cheese doing Snoop Dog’s Gin and Juice. Fantastic. I’ve already forgotten what the original sounds like.

Music to make time go by (quicker)

October 19, 2006

Just wondering why mockney pop-music has taken off in the UK to such an extent? First there was The Streets (who I hate) then Hard-Fi (who I love) and now there’s Lilly Allen (hate) and Jamie T (love).

I can’t recommend Jamie T‘s “If you got the money” highly enough. My 11am – 2pm radio station of choice, XFM has been playing it every couple of hours and it’s fantastic.

A laid back reggae beat, funny lyrics and a soulful (but chavvy) voice all add up to a song I can’t get out my head!

If you’ve got the money
I think it would be funny-oh-oh-oh
to take your girl and spend a bit of your cash for me!

‘Cause then she might be ‘appy
No longer lonely-oh-oh-oh
and I could take her out the next day for pretty much free.

Watch the video here.

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