Disclaimer: I’ve taken one film class in my college career so I consider myself aptly qualified to make these assumptions on the creative direction of today’s music videos.
The beauty in music videos for me is being able to pin point the time period in which a video was made. With fashion trends and specific musical genres, being able to guess what decade a music video is from becomes easy — not to mention mainstream media’s tendency to just copy what’s currently working, never really pushing boundaries. (Unless you’re Miley that is.) With that said, I believe I’ve cracked the code for the music video formula of today’s music scene. Ready?
Unforgiving & unsettling eye contact with the camera
random (but slightly relevant) wide angle footage
*Emeril voice* BAM! There you have it. The recipe for success. I fell upon this discovery while watching the music video for Troye Sivan’s “Happy Little Pill.” With my poor internet game these days, I’ll openly admit that I’m very late in viewing this music video. If it weren’t for Troye’s BTS showing up in my subscription feed, I would’ve never known the music video for his single was released. But around the 0:23 mark when I found myself face to owl face, it had clicked in my unhinged mind that I’ve seen something like this before.
“But what makes these two videos work so well is that they both directly feed into today’s hipster mindset” A couple of tabs later and suddenly I was staring into Lorde’s pale blue eyes in her music video for “Royals.” Why Troye’s “Happy Little Pill” reminded me of last summer’s smash hit was clear as day once I saw the correlation between the two: random ass footage thrown in willy nilly for what seems like shits and giggles! But what makes these two videos work so well is that they both directly feed into today’s hipster mindset of “I’m trying to make it look like I don’t care and didn’t try when in reality I went through so many Instagram filters for this final product. #nofilter” Troye’s video takes it a bit further by doing what looks like putting on a layer of #b270aa and setting the Blend Mode to lighten. (Hah, Photoshop jokes, amirite?)
Now let me defend my opinions before any Troye fans troll me: I completely understand Troye’s aesthetic with his EP and where his marketing team/label are taking his creative direction. His music career isn’t the same as his YouTube career in the slightest so any previous thought that his humor and YouTube sensibility would make it into the HLP music video is uncalled for and a mistake on my part. I would’ve rather watched a quirky video with more directional input from Troye but that doesn’t fit into today’s edgy & mysterious aesthetic — at least that’s what the labels think. If anything, I’m glad that Troye is self-aware of what he’s doing in the music video: “I’m just looking all serious out of the window and shit like that.” (h/t)