First of all to be able to understand what a conceptual music video style is, I have decided to look closely at the word “concept”. This would involve me considering a variety of definitions for the noun:
- Cambridge Dictionary: “A principle or idea”
- Oxford Dictionary: “An abstract idea”
- Your Dictionary: “Based on a main theme”
All of which suggest concept based music videos generally focus on specific ideas, notions, and/or themes.
Features of conceptual videos generally, include having no story-line/plot, for the reason that the ideas expressed are creative yet unusual; so meaning the visuals might not necessarily have any relation with the lyrics/meaning conveyed in the song. Therefore, editing techniques used for this style is often the main focus; concentrating on this in particular would mean the viewer would be drawn to the illustration and production seen onscreen. For example the symbolism portrayed through lighting can instantly set the mood and tone for the audience as well as representing particular emotions. As a result, I can interpret conceptual music videos main aim and intention is to intrigue a specific target audience in relation to the idea of the music video.
So not only will the extraordinary content directly interest the audience, but success can be achieved if this style of content is widely understandable. As a music video with unbelievable visuals can create a great deal of distraction from the central focus which is the production of a video that visually displays the artist’s thoughts about the song for the audience to interpret. In short if the audience can’t noticeably understand or decode these particular ideas then the artist’s work has not been a success. for not meeting this main targets/objective. Subsequently, the audience’s entertainment is not maintained throughout watching the video.
Furthermore, since I am quite early on in my research stage I have already found this style is open to a range of genres, because all have the ability to use concept style for a music video such as relating to themes like:
- Plus many more…
A conceptual music video style that relates to a different theme is Austrian singer/songwriter Sia’s “Elastic Heart” featuring Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler displayed below:
Symbolism is used through the narrative as the cage represents a mental illness. The dancer Maddie represents a much younger version of Sia and the male dancer Shia is this character’s father; they both struggle with mental health issues and attempt to escape from it. Only Maddie is able to escape from her illness, meanwhile her father can’t because despite her going back to help him, he can’t be changed. This conveys how some don’t have the physical strength to overcome thoughts in their mind.
Although it tells a story, the video has an artistic concept as it shares the conventions of having very little relation to the lyrics or meaning in the song. As well as, the fact that the audience’s interest and entertainment is maintained throughout watching makes the video widely popular for the reason that the audience are left intrigued to see what will happen.
This is typical for Sia as near enough all of her music videos develop this concept and I truly believe her music videos are amazing.
For instance a variety of features I commented on after watching the “Elastic Heart” music video include:
The establishing shot almost instantly makes the audience feel the emotions of sadness as the audience are introduced to the vacant location of a warehouse with what appears to be a large cage containing the two characters inside; suggesting the two are metaphorically trapped within a state of no escape.
The lighting is natural looking which adds a sense of realism and creates an authentic atmosphere to the video; as a result, the audience’s attention is kept on the characters, implying that they will uncover the major theme.
But the meaning behind the song isn’t necessarily always reflected by the character’s actions, for the reason that the audience are allowed to deduce their own thoughts about the song in some scenes where the shot duration extends for a longer period of time than usual.
From the passion and expression, exerted through each of the character’s body language, I was able to identify that although both of them appear strong, they are potentially in a battle with their own mental state. Which the lyrics of “I’ve got tick skin and an elastic heart” help to reinforce this particular interpretation.
Also the slow cuts allow enough time for the detail in each of the shots to be portrayed; but as the tempo of the music builds up from the verse to the chorus of the song, the cuts between the two characters also begin to pick up the pace. Therefore, demonstrating how the editing mirrors the song structure. As a result, the audience feel engaged within the video as if they were directly involved in the story. This can further be supported by the cinematography of the camera cutting to medium close up shots that eventually track towards the two characters as displayed below:
However, issues arise form the controversy of people saying the video’s concept is suggestive of paedophilia; mainly through the fact of the costume. But nude colour costumes in art allow the audience to focus entirely on the movement and actions of the dancer. So I find this form of interpretive dance represents abstract ideas and is an artistic masterpiece.