Wrecking balls and reflections: New music videos take new directions

From Miley to Ylvis, these videos are creating a storm.

By Ellie Papadakis | Sept. 17, 2013

Tags: Music video

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There’s quite a bit of disagreement when it comes to who had the first music video. Some argue that it was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” while others say it was The Beatles with “Paperback Writer” and “Rain.” The first music video that MTV aired, on the other hand, was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

The thing about these oldies is that, in the videos, the artists are performing — or, at least, badly lip-synching — their songs. There’s little symbolism and storytelling taking place. It seems like for The Fab Four and Freddie Mercury, making a music video was about showcasing a track and giving fans a three-minute close-up concert. After all, the lyrics already tell the story.

But times change and today’s artists have taken music videos in a whole new direction:

Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”

The actual song isn’t bad. All the pop song elements are there, and it’s so auto-tuned, it barely sounds like Cyrus. It’s the music video that’s the problem.

It wasn’t necessary to have Cyrus almost making out with a sledgehammer and sitting naked on top of a huge wrecking ball. Arguably, nothing was excessively shown, but there are better ways to visually share the story of a broken heart and the vulnerability felt after the end of a long relationship.

The only thing that this video did was to dig Cyrus into a deeper hole. It also came out after that horrid VMA performance with Robin Thicke, so that didn’t really help her case. It seems like Cyrus is trying too hard to reinvent herself. It’s fine if that’s what she wants to do, but there are better ways to accomplish her goal.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor”

On the other hand, there’s this interactive masterpiece of a video. This is virtual art.

Watching the video may leave you feeling a little trippy with its psychedelic vibes, but if you have Google Chrome, it’s worth a watch. Viewers are able to control a lot of elements in the video just by turning on their webcams and moving their mice around the screen.

As the video goes on, controlling what’s happening on screen becomes more and more eerie. That’s when you start to listen to the words and realize that the song is actually about breaking free from the technologies that seem to control our everyday lives — the computers, the smartphones and the tablets.

What a way to prove a point.

4 out of 5 stars.

Ylvis’ “The Fox”

This is what happens when you combine “Old McDonald,” “B-I-N-G-O” and a Norwegian accent.

In order for something to go big on the Internet, it has to be a little weird. If the goal of the group was to go viral, they sure knew their audience.

After all, who doesn’t want to see grown men and women dancing around in masks and animal onesies? It’s a little too creepy and cringe-worthy to watch more than once, but hey, the song is catchy.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

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