If you've ever seen a music video with a multitude of dancers or that just showed the band giving a performance, you've witnessed a music video genre. Genres help a director define the style of a video clearly. As such, it's important to know what each one is so that you can make sure your video not only matches the artist's demands but connects with your audience as well.
Whether you're in need of ideas or already have something original in mind, you'll find it helpful to know the boundaries of each music video genre. To help you with this, we'll be going through different genres of music videos including videos that are performance based, videos that are driven by special effects, videos with storylines, videos with dance, videos that are animation centric, and videos that use web browsers in a creative way. These different genres can be used to help your video capture the emotions of your audience.
The first genre is the performance based music video. These music videos simply feature the artist or band giving a live performance of their song in various settings. Though there's not a whole lot of creative freedom within this genre, it allows the video to stay simple and inexpensive while keeping the focus on the band members themselves. (Still) U2 makes great use of this genre in their music video for Beautiful Day. In it, we see the band performing both inside an airplane hangar and on an airstrip giving their video a theme while allowing the artist to determine the energy of the piece. (DR) Like any genre, rules can always be stretched to form a more original idea. For instance, the music video You Only Live Once by White Knuckles shows the band members performing in a single metallic room throughout the entire song. (Still) This, by itself, might seem boring but by adding the element of drowning in a sea of black liquid they've not only made the video visually interesting - but have added impact to the song's name as well.
The next most common genre is a story driven music video. This is a music video where a narrative plays out to the lyrics of the music. If the stories are done well, they can add a visual boost to the words in the music. A good example of a story driven music video can be found in the music video for It's Not Over The video follows the lyrics of the song showing a man who recently got out of jail looking to make a better life for himself. This video cuts fairly seamlessly between the artist and the story itself. On the other hand, Sigur Ros, made a music video in which the band never actually appeared at all. In their song, Glosoli. they simply follow a group of children that become inspired by a brave boy to do the impossible. The story is very abstract but the visuals give the music added impact and allows the viewer to feel as if they've been through an entire journey by the end.
Some of the most creative and visually stunning music videos are found in the special effects genre. With the affordability of powerful special effects software such as After Effects and Cinema 4D, along with a desire to stand out in a crowded marketplace, directors are relying more and more on special effects in their music videos. The Chemical Brothers did a fantastic job in this genre with their song Let Forever Be.In it, they follow a lady who morphs between real life situations and clever kaleidoscopic-like dances in a studio. Though it couldn't have been easy to pull off, the video achieved its purpose of drawing the audience into the music.
Another very common genre of music video is the dance video. In this genre, the artist and others will dance to the beat of the music in various locations. This style of music video will require a lot of time for choreography, but can help your talent show off impressive skills and at the same time, match the rhythm of the music. (Still) One of the most classic examples of this genre is Michael Jackson's ever-popular Thriller music video. This production required an inordinate of time and commitment to complete due to the length of the song and the complexities of the dance moves shown. However, by pulling this off in the way that they did, this video has made the top 10 lists of critics around the world. (DR) Another band named OK GO actually used a unique form of this genre to make one of their videos go viral on the internet. They choreographed a dance using treadmills that was done in one take for their song Here It Goes Again. This helped their band to become a household name in just a few short weeks.
Some directors have also used animation to make a music video look unique. A classic example of this technique was first used by a-Ha in the song Take on Me.In the video, a man draws a woman into a comic book where they try to escape from men who are after them. The cool part is that throughout the video the band members change from drawings to real life people which adds an interesting dynamic to the effect. Another great example can be found in the Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc. video. It shows representations of the band members as cartoons drawn in a very specific style. By animating their entire video, the band was able to show surrealistic representations of the lyrics of their song something that would've been tough to achieve if shot on video.
Lastly, some bands are using new and unproven technology in order to get their music videos noticed using the internet. Bands such as OK GO and the Arcade Fire have discovered ways to make their videos interactive using new browser capabilities. For instance, the Arcade Fire's music video puts a runner on a map of the neighborhood where you lived. OK GO allows you to type in a message before the video begins which the band then spells out with their feet at the end of their video. These creative methods of watching a music video take some time and website skills but can pay off by attracting new listeners to a band's music.
The main ideas behind any music video is to attract more listeners to a band's music, to make money, and most of all to influence how people see a band. This is where music video genres come in. They can help you to not only relate your idea to your client quickly, but to make the band look great as well.