Music videos have kind of fallen by the wayside in recent years. Record labels aren’t quite as keen to pump a lot of money into high concept spectacles to promote a three-minute-single anymore. Videos have ceased to be the main selling point of MTV for a while now, and if a channel literally called “Music Television” is deciding to go in a different direction, maybe the tide has turned for good.
However, when [insert deity of your choice] closes a door, he opens a window. Traditional music videos may be appearing less frequently, accepting for a second that it’s odd to describe anything invented in the 1980s as being ‘traditional’, but interactive music videos are slowly popping up, and we’re quite into them. Here’s a few of the best we’ve found.
Brightly - Rugby
This is borderline witchcraft. Aussie singer Brightly has piggy-backed on GIPHY’s API to put together this microsite that fires you GIFs in real time that react to the lyrics of the song, so you’ll never see the same video twice (theoretically, anyway).
Now, not only is this just a very neat idea, but it really does focus your attention on the lyrics of the song, which are great. Nothing distracts from the music, the tech just adds to it, and you end up with some really cool moments too. Try it out.
Usher - Chains
This is not only a powerful music video, but it’s a really important bit of political commentary, underscored by an incredibly creative use of facial recognition technology.
Inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the video accesses your webcam and plays you the song at the same time as displaying the names and faces of victims of racial injustice. If you look away from the screen, the camera notices, and the song stops. A really simple idea, executed to devastating effect. Take a look.
Kontra K - An Deiner Seite
This is more like a horror film, or a whodunnit. As the song plays, you can use the space bar to flash between two different short films – one which begins with a girl screaming as people try to break into her house, the other focuses on a fisherman who’s found himself at the crime scene.
The great thing about this is that you get the choose your own narrative. This is how storytelling is going to develop when virtual reality becomes more accessible too. The viewers are essentially being given their own cameras, expanding the frame of the film to 360 degrees, and directors are having to come up with new ideas for what to fill it with. Go explore.
Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone
This one’s actually from a few years ago, proving that despite now being well in his 70s, Bob Dylan is still figuring out ways to surprise people.
Here you’re presented with one of Dylan’s most iconic songs, and a TV set. Each channel with something different on it – a talk show, a soap opera, online shopping, the news – but each character mouthing the lyrics to the song. Somewhere in the middle is Bob playing it himself too, which is always welcome. Have a watch, how does it feel?
Netsky - Work It Out
Ok, fair warning, there’s a very real chance this song will burrow into your head and also rinse your phone battery. The song is set to a classic American teenage drama, but the video puts you in control.
Not only do you have to drag and drop a cassette into a walkman to get the song started (pleasingly retro, thanks), but you can go to a site on your mobile and control the action on screen using a slider. At the start, you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, but for moving some doodles around. However, as the song progresses, you start controlling your character’s sit ups and movements, eventually making him telekinetic. It’s great fun, so great.