It’s a well known fact that the use of music is a central component of successful advertising campaigns as Marketers continue to stress the importance of leveraging culture in order to give brands a relevant voice. BETC Paris have launched their music-focussed micro-agency BETC Pop this week, Droga5 are known for their highly successful Jay Z/Bing collaboration, Grey London harnessed the power of the then-relevant genre Dubstep by helping DJ Fresh get a UK #1 with ‘Louder’ as part of their campaign for Lucozade and BBH has its Black Sheep Music/The Most Radica-list outlet. However, sometimes it seems that agency creatives and planners as well as client-side Brand managers don’t fully consider how they can take inspiration from music videos, which essentially are tools used by artists and record labels to communicate the message of the song and character of the artist. Below are some examples of current music videos which advertising industry creatives could learn a thing or two from.
Caribou– Can’t do without you
Dan Snaith’s 2014 melancholic House/RnB/Pop ballad Can’t do without you expresses tenderness, desperation and joy simultaneously. It is, in essence, a pure love song. The music video takes a clever approach to the song’s subject matter by eschewing the expected couple narrative to that of a young boy’s brief infatuation with Chinese dragon/kite- style floating object before he falls and loses control of it. It works because the director has taken an unexpected approach without losing the message of the song.
Earl Sweathsirt- Grief
Earl Sweatshirt’s sludge-core beat and dexterious yet somber lyricism is matched perfectly by Japanese director Hiro Murai who uses a thermal imaging camera in grayscale to depict the artist in the midst of a seemingly common social situation whilst feeling isolated and claustraphobic. Activities which would be considered typical of a rapper in his early 20s such as smoking, playing video games and being around attractive women are given a more sinister and unsettling edge as warm and cold surfaces reflect contrasted areas of light and darkness.
Skepta has had something of a rebirth in the past 18 months and has emerged as the current figurehead of the rebooted Grime scene. His track ‘Shutdown’ references his recent high points such his MOBO Award-winning That’s Not Me, his link-up with A$AP Mob and his fashion-week appearance and confidently asserts the irreverent spirit of the scens that he leads. The video combines the common Grime tropes of the mandem on the estate with signifiers of the new chic image of the genre such as his kind of roadman normcore clothing and shots of models clad in higher-end sportswear- a nod to the trendiness that he has acquired perhaps. Like Wiley’s On a Level video it’s a bold statement of Grime’s powerful return to prominence.
U.S. Girls- Damn that Valley
I’ve only just got to know about U.S. Girls and apparently she has been around for a while. Now signed to dance/electronic label 4AD with whom she will be releasing her next album her brand of DIY Pop with traces of Indie, Punk, Ska and Americana is set to make a much bigger splash. Her video for Damn that Valley shows her referencing the song’s socio-political undertones which are slightly obscured by the stylistics of its production and subtle lyricism with imagery that includes the singer gesturing aggressively at the White House, seemingly crying out to the Washington Monument and being superimposed singing in a self-consciously retro shot across rows of American flags. The video perfectly complements the song’s DIY aesthetics and retro styling whilst reflecting the subtle overlap of the political and the personal.