Rhapsodic Recommendations 1: Music Videos
Music is one area of knowledge I have flirted with exploring, but have held off to maintain, for lack of a better word, the ‘magic’. For me, I fear that being able to recognize notes, deconstruct a melody, or know the ‘how’ of a piece on a first listen will distract me from the enjoyment or larger impact a work of art can have when I am simply taking it in and not analyzing it. I’m able to do this for other creative products, to be simultaneous consumer and evaluator; but there’s something about music that, for the foreseeable future, I want to keep pure. I want to eat my cake without trying to guess the ingredients, utensils, or methods. So consider the following recommendations and critiques from a consumer, not a producer.
This first installment focuses on my most recent favorite music videos — enjoy!
New Rules ~ Dua Lipa. If you’re looking for a video to inspire your next girl-boss-themed hang, look no further. The two things I love most about this video are the visible progression from struggle to success and the stronger together message portrayed in the choreography and costume. For most of us, no change — whether your lifestyle, diet, or the people in your life — is an overnight success, even when you know this change is good for you. Most songs stay within the will-forever-miss-you (i.e., later Shania Twain) or new-phone-who-dis (i.e., original Shania Twain) stages, but here Dua Lipa shows how “practice makes perfect” and acknowledges the difficulties and possibilities in growth. Best yet, she shows how these hard changes are rarely done alone. Growing up, women were largely portrayed as together in good times and isolated in struggle, and the patriarchal depiction of competitive or toxic female friendships is often subtle, yet pervasive. There have been numerous calls to subvert this, but seeing it represented in this video struck home for me.
Molly ~ Lil Dicky ft. Brendon Urie. Being someone who hadn’t heard the song when I first watched the music video, the opening definitely succeeded in tricking me. I will be vague in my comments so as to not ruin it for first time viewers, but the music and images from this video beautifully convey the feelings of this situation. Lil Dicky, whom I prefer to call David, is a decent actor and I can always appreciate artists who tell their true stories in their art. Rap what you know, I always say. Also I’m in love with Brendon Urie(’s voice), so this may have been an automatic dunk for me.
Look What You Made Me Do ~ Taylor Swift. These are the only 6 sentences I will say about this music video and then I will drop it forever. The music/song itself is not a big revelation, for the pop music world (if you were wondering where you had heard the chorus before, it’s “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt”) or even the Taylor Swift fandom (whom eat revenge tracks for brunch with spiked tea). But if you thought “Blank Space” was steering into the skid, this music video is doing repetitive donuts while holding the middle finger out the window. Like good film, every visual detail of this music video has been purposefully chosen and there are already many articles dissecting different elements that essentially reference every scandal and criticism that’s been thrown at her. The one I want to highlight is that the first legible tombstone in the opening scene: it bears the name of the director of this music video, I argue because they knew he would come under fire when this video was released along with her. She can’t beat them, she can’t join then…so let’s see what she’ll do (Coming this November to a Facebook wall near you).