Media Theory

Music videos are used to help a musician or band promote a song or album. Think of a music video as an advertisement for the musician. Thanks to cheap digital video equipment and YouTube, there is no excuse for a musician to not have a music video out for the world to see. With so many music videos out there, it is worth exploring the idea of analyzing a music video.

Something to consider, first and foremost, is that music videos are more than just music. The video part of a music video is what truly sets it apart from a song by itself. The video contains messages that the musician wants to convey to the audience. The music video director has chosen to show a story or lifestyle about the musician that will appeal to the audience. The artist is selling more than just a song... they're selling you a lifestyle, presumably the lifestyle the artist lives him or herself.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to begin understanding music videos:

  • Is the music video based in real life, or does this take place in a fantasy world?
  • Is the way the artist is portrayed in the video really how that person dresses and cats in real life?
  • Consider how the musician is dressed - is that how regular people dress?
  • Consider the actions taken by the artist in the video - would they really do these things in real life?
  • What is the benefit for the musician to portray him or herself this way?
  • Does the video portray people in stereotypical ways? Are these reflections of real people or are they just one-sided characters?
  • Consider the editing - how does the frequency of cuts from shot to shot affect how you feel about the video?
  • Consider the setting - why did the director choose this location or setting?

These are just some questions to start you thinking about how music videos re created and how they affect you. Take a look at the videos below and try analyzing them using the questions above.

Jay Z - Death Of Auto-Tune

Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me

You can learn a lot more about this topic by buying our book, Practical Media Literacy: An essential guide to the critical thinking skills for our digital world. You would be supporting our work so that we can bring you more great resources.

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