“Music videos are capable of drawing emotional responses from fans as well as the performers themselves” which is the reason why such great importance is attached to music videos and why so much effort and money are put into them as well. Music videos have evolved and this helps to explain their meaning in contemporary context. To explain how and why music videos have such a great importance today the following term paper gives a short summary of the history of music videos. Then an actual music video from Pink, namely “Stupid Girls” is analyzed in terms of how the video works. Finally, the message of the video and the way Pink uses the video to express her opinion are described.
The history of music videos started in 1927 when sound was added to film. Before this event all films were silent. The first music genre which was played in those first videos was Jazz music. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, as Hollywood was emerging and gaining importance, music in films was also gaining importance. The scenes in which music were played “[…] seemed to provide stories within themselves”. The video which was considered as the first music video was produced by the Disney studio and was called “Fantasia”. The basis of the film is the classical music of Leopold Stokowski and Disney set animated figures and let them move to the music “[…] which ultimately made it the first unintentional long-form music video”. The so called Soundie, which can be seen as a deviation from the jukebox because it does not only play music but allows the audience to watch a film which fits to the music, can be seen as another progress towards the contemporary music videos . Furthermore, the distribution of TV sets in America took place in the late 1940’s. This is relevant for the development of music videos. Between the normal TV program short little clips were shown. They were 2-3 minutes long and consisted mostly of musicians singing and dancing to fill in the gap between two different programs. The 1960’s was important due to the fact that Hollywood produced a film which featured The Beatles’ song A Hard Day’s Night in which The Beatles performed their song but also the TV show The Monkees was released in which the band performed a song every week. Generally TV programs about or containing music did not have a huge audience since these programs were not shown during prime time. The very first actual music video was produced in 1975 by Queen for the song Bohemian Rhapsody. The band actually used the video to promote their new album A Night at the Opera. The video mostly shows the band playing their song but there are also some specials effects such as fade-in and fade-out camera shots. Queen’s music video was played very often in the TV show Midnight Special. Other musicians noticed how successful the music video was and how much it helped promote the band’s new album. This had the effect that other musicians made music videos as well, for example AC/DC and David Bowie. Since there were so many bands which produced their own music videos more platforms were needed to distribute them. One example for a show which produced to distribute videos was Elephant Parts by Michael Nesmith. The music videos were shown mixed with comedy. This show helped promote and make music videos popular because parts of the show were played on other TV shows such as Saturday Night Live. Nesmith decided to produce another show which was called PopClips and only showed different music videos. PopClips was shown on Nickelodeon which belonged to the company Time Warner. This company noticed how popular music videos had become which is why a whole cable network that only showed music videos 24 hours a day was developed: MTV (Music Television).
Music videos are used to send a message. The artist and the producer send a message to the audience but also use the video to promote and advertise themselves. In general a music video is able to combine different elements such as pictures, sounds, associations and so on. There are various ways in which this can take place. One example is that the video represents and visualizes the beat or different sound elements of the actual song (for example the song Around the World by Daft Punk) or that different shapes which are produced through, for example, magnets represents the different sound elements of the song. Every time you hear a certain sound, you see a certain object or a certain shape, so that the rhythm is transferred through the repetition of objects. Some music videos also use certain structures which are repeated throughout the music video such as the music video Come into my World by Kylie Minogue. Another example is that the video is used to visualize the story that the lyrics tell. There are also a lot of music videos which show space or have futuristic elements. Sometimes the music video just shows the band playing their own song and sometimes the music video does not have to do anything with the band or song. Michael Chion summarizes the way a music video works with one term: synch point. A synch point is when music and picture meet. A good example for this would be when the rhythm of music is repeated by the bouncing of a seat.
The director of the video “Stupid Girls” is Dave Meyers who is very popular and famous for directing music videos. Dave Meyers was born and raised in California. The first contact he had with film was in a local cinema in Berkley for which he worked when he was seventeen years old. Dave majored in Film Production and Philosophy. He started making music videos in 1997. The first music video he produced was “Yay Deep” for the band E40. Since then he has directed videos for various artists and therefore different music genres. Some artists he has worked for and with are: Twista, Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Missy Elliot and so on. Today he has directed over 200 different music videos for which he has also won a total of twelve MTV Video Music Awards. Dave Meyers does not only direct music videos but also works as a photographer, directs commercials and has also directed the movie “The Hitcher”. The first time Pink and Dave Meyers worked together was in 2000 for Pink’s song “There you go”. After this video Pink and Meyers worked together for many other videos as well, for example “Get the Party started” in 2001 which won the MTV Video Music Awards for the categories Best Dance Video and Best Female Video.
The song “Stupid Girls” is written by Pink, Billy Mann, Niklas Olovson and Robin Lynch. The song was the first single which was released from Pink’s album “I’m not dead” in 2006. The video won the MTV Video Music Award in the category Best Pop Video in 2006.
Music videos often work in a narrative way and have different modes “such as underscoring the music, highlighting the lyrics and showcasing the star”- just like Pink’s music video. The way the video “Stupid Girls” works is that the lyrics are visualized. Clearly a connection between the lyrics and the video can be drawn, though the rhythm of the song is not represented visually. The only hints towards repeating the rhythm visually are in scenes in which Pink in different roles dances. Obviously the dance moves fit to the rhythm.
In summary Pink uses the music video to visualize the lyrics of her song Stupid Girls. Therefore she imitates different celebrities which she plays herself in the video. Pink utters criticism in an ironic way and questions how these Barbie type girlie girls behave and act in public since younger children look up to them and see them as role models. Pink also challenges the audience to reflect on the video and accordingly also to think about the celebrities’ behavior. The lyrics are very important throughout the whole video since they are not only visualized in the music video but also are used to address the audience. Especially with sentences such as “I don’t wanna be a stupid girl”, “Where have all the smart people gone” or “Do you think?” Pink is capable of addressing the audience and letting the audience reflect what they see. The question “Do you think?” is repeated very often throughout the whole song and gets more intense to the point where it could be understood as “do you even use your brain and think about what you see and do?”.
The music video “Stupid Girls” by Pink which was directed by Dave Meyers works by visualizing the lyrics of the song. Throughout the music video Pink makes fun of different celebrities and by doing this she questions whether they are good role models for children. The video is made in an ironical way and exaggeration is used to make a point. Generally the music video is funny though there is also a serious criticism: Pink criticizes the way celebrities act in public because tons of teenagers see them as role models and want to copy the way they look and act without questioning the actions of the celebrities or the consequences of their outrageous behavior. Pink expresses the fact that stars and celebrities have a certain responsibility since they are always in public and seen as role models- even if they do not want to be one. Furthermore, Pink criticizes the way people are reduced to the way they look and that everything is very superficial. Especially in the scene in which Pink works out in the gym and her underwear says “Say no to food” or in which she plays a bulimic girl that pukes and says: “Oh my god, I totally had more than 300 calories- that is so not sexy” show that a lot of celebrities which she imitates throughout her music video only think about the way they look and lose their sense of reality since an adult needs about 1500 to 2000 calories a day and everybody has to eat and nobody can survive without eating or by saying no to food. These two scenes show exactly the way Pink makes her point: she takes a serious problem or situation and by exaggerating the situation she shows how ironic it is to take something superficial like how much you weigh so seriously.
On the other hand it is interesting to see that Pink contradicts her own criticism of role models by using a preconception and superficial way to represent a tom boy which she thinks is the right way to be. Using a preconception of a role model of a tom boy to convert and criticize the role model of the superficial Barbie girl type that only cares about the way she looks. So it seems that in summary Pink thinks that there is no real stereo type which can be taken seriously to one hundred percent. The video can also be seen as a type of questioning what one personally takes serious and looking back at things which you once took seriously until you noticed how superficial and ironic it was. So the main message of the music video is that making fun of things and irony are a good way to look at something and that life should not be taken too seriously though of course it also important to question and criticize certain things and opinions.
Chion, Michel. Audio- Vision. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Marcovitz, Hal. The History of Music Videos. Gale: Cengage Learning, 2012.
Vernallis, Carol. Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.
http://www.davemeyers.com/# (accessed 07.10.2014)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Meyers_videography (accessed 07.10.2014)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Meyers_%28director%29 (accessed 07.10.2014)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stupid_Girls (accessed 06.10.2014)
http://www.songtexte.com/songtext/pnk/stupid-girls-bdb7d2e.html (accessed 08.10.2014)
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18zcna_pink-stupid-girls-official-video-hd-720p_music (accessed 12.10.2014)
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 CF whole paragraph: Marcovitz (10-25)
 Chion (58-59)
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 All pictures are screenshots from the music video: