Too Much In the Brew? Of Nigerian Music Videos
Okay so I took a break from a long overdue edit to write this because heck I have to write something. When it’s not a client brief, it’s a treatment or a copy or a tweet or a script (After tweets and maybe rant medium posts I write everything else sparsely and at a rather languid pace). Bottom line is I had to write something, eventually.
I’ve been thinking about scaling up in music videos and what exactly that acheives beyond a certain threshold. How many locations are enough before it becomes too much, how many props before it becomes a fashion exhibition. When does it begin to look like more of an ego sizing contest on the part of the artiste and the video director against some other unspecified but certainly existing detractors, (they’re never singular) popularly known in the local entertainment and showbiz circles as 'haters'
My favorite music videos so far have a simplicity about them that draws one in, they also are devoid of multiple(keyword being multiple) exotic looking locations. In no particular order I have MI’s Everything, Diamond Platinum and David’s Number One Remix. Drake’s Hotline being, Adele’s Send my Love, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Adele’s Hello(notice a pattern here?) Drake’s Worst Behavior, Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s This Is What You Came For. Gotye’s Somebody that I Used to Know, Usher’s Crash
In the middle of this edit, I started feeling like I could have wrapped up the set without shooting as much as I did (yeah I happened to shoot this one too, long story). Sometimes I think we get to a point where we feel like we have to (a) shoot quite a lot to justify the asking price (b) justify the stress spent on the shoot by tossing practically every good take into the edit.
A music video is still audio bolstered by visuals, hence the visuals we see should complement not overwhelm the sound . Although in Nigeria a music video is life support more or less and serves to elevate the sound, no matter how mediocre. With this in mind it becomes obvious why videos must seek to out-glam possible competition. This need however causes a discernable disconnect between the sound and the visuals and a lot of that is apparent these days in our music videos. This is not to say that a music video must be a sight bound retelling of what the ears already hear. Music videos are more than that, more often than not they transfer the energy, the prevailing mood or the implied context of a song to screen, and whichever way they decide to do this, by true to audio interpretation, abstract designs, symbolism and metaphors one has to ask when does adding more begin to equal overcooked, glossy and forgettable?
And is it about the budget? A properly thought out video utilizing sparse locations can still set you back a pretty penny especially if elaborate set designs and vfx are required.
For me the greatest element of a music video is how the artiste carries the song, an emotional connection to the song that denotes ownership, whether it’s in the swagger, the haughtiness with which they stare into the audience through the lens, the joy in their face or the sombre look in their eyes when they sing of tragedy. This to me is why a music video exists first, and second.
Afterwards it’s to connect you to the song by employing the right mix of technical and creative dexterity, to bring to the fore it’s message or energy and like my favourite videos have shown you tend to keep the energy levels optimum when you keep the distractions at a minimum.