Indie Music Video Trends From Shirley Braha of MTV Hive’s Weird Vibes

Last night I attended The L Magazine’s Music Now Summit at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.  Before the panel featuring Ted Leo and some writers from Pitchfork, Shirley Braha of MTV Hive’s Weird Vibes Show talked about the emerging trends of indie music videos.  As she sees it, there are trends in imagery and style in indie music videos that change year after year based on how folks experience music.

One couldn’t search the Internet to find videos, you had to look to television to provide your listening/viewing pleasure. Back then music videos had a “slick” quality to it that made you know it was a professional video that belonged on MTV.

Some trends common in music videos were long shots that didn’t cut away, choreographed dancing, and costumes.  Braha’s example was Feist’s “1 2 3 4” (though it was filmed in 2007).  The overall trend in indie music was “accessible songs” where a slick video would “take it over the edge.”

People started getting in the habit of searching for videos via YouTube.  As a reaction to all the “slick” videos from before, indie artists craved authenticity and we started seeing videos taking more of a grass roots turn.  Artists used everything down to an iPhone in order to film.

Enter more DIY-music video production with the same two filters in Final Cut Pro used over and over again: “Bad Film” and “Bad TV.” The more that something seems like a home movie, the more authentic.  There is more nudity on account of the fact that more videos are released online than on television and censoring is not as much of an issue.  There also seems to be more nautical themes (jumping in pools, swimming, oceans) and landscapes from automobiles.  Braha also said that some bands refer to music videos more as
visual singles.

Here are three example videos that are definitely champs of “bad film” and nautical themes:

Work Drugs “Third Wave”

Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks” (an example of a mainstream band trying to ride chill waves – Braha was proud of this joke)

Lana Del Rey “Video Games

The use of these montages of video clips that do seem like home movies or something an average joe filmed does bring authenticity (most likely because the artist IS using an iPhone) but I also feel it is a departure from bands wanting to appear as if they are a brand.  Using clips that don’t have a strong tie to themselves (such as Lana Del Rey using paparazzi film of Paz de la Huerta being wasted) shows the transcendence of their music from being something that serves as personal reflection to being a listener’s experience.  Or at least that’s what they aspire to do.

Frankly, the entire Music Now Summit was a bit of a cluster.  Lesson learned:  never plan an open bar during a panel where Ted Leo and other prominent folks are expected to get down and dirty about music.

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