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Music video analysis - The XX
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Music video analysis - The XX



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  • 1. Louise Fisher - 6081
  • 2. William Goodwin identified 7 key ideas that we should look for to identify, he said:1. Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics (e.g. stage performance in metal video, dance routine for boy/girl band.)2. There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals. (either illustrative, amplifying and contradicting.)3. There is a relationship between music and visuals. (either illustrative, amplifying and contradicting.)4. The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style.)5. There is frequent reference to notion of looking (screens within screen, telescopes, etc.) and particularly voyeuristic (sexual) treatment of the female body.6. There is often intertextual reference (to films, TV programmes, other music videos etc.)7. Whether the video is primarily performance based, narrative based or concept based and how elements of each is used in it.
  • 3. The XX are an English Indie band – their music conveys this by using genre characteristics normallyassociated with indie music. Goodwin states that each genre has a particular characteristic thathelp make it a genre, in this case , it is most common for Indie music to usually use a performanceelement in their music videos and close ups/shots of band members to establish the band’s image.The music video for ‘Islands’ is a largely performance based which helps to clarify the band’s genreas indie. The use of the Dolly Zoom throughout the music video is repeated several times whichestablishes the setting of the music video and the mood of the music, it also allows the audience tosee the dancers as well as band singing along to the song. Mise-en-scene such as a dim room withbright lights is used to add a dramatic effect which helps to engage the audience as well as keeps intime with the rhythm of the music, this is done create a connection between the music and visuals.Unlike other popular indie music videos ,close ups of instruments are not uses because in the videothe band aren’t playing their instruments, they are just posing in the video with the vocal singersinging the words. It is important for indie bands to be seen with their instruments because itshows the audience that part of their skill is playing good music live which would persuade theaudience to go to their gigs. However, even though The XX deviate from this typical characteristicin their music video the main vocalist is still singing along with the song which still sells their bandas an indie band.
  • 4. According to Goodwin there is a relationship between lyrics andvisuals within a music video which is eitherillustrative, amplifying or contradictive.However in the music video for ‘Islands’ the relationshipbetween visuals and lyrics are mostly contradicting becausethey shown little relationship. However the lyrics in the musicvideo are extremely repetitive which is emphasised by thecontinuous repetitiveness of the camera shot, the dolly zoomused throughout the video.It can be argued that one particular part of the lyrics in the song‘Islands’ is illustrative because the vocalist sings “so now I’llnever explore” at the end of every verse, it is clear that thedirector of the music video has picked up upon this repeatedline which is a reason for limiting the use of shots and not usinga variation of different camera angles and movements – it isemphasising the fact that she can ‘never explore’, thishighlights that the singer is always in the same situation andcan never discover new things.
  • 5. Goodwin also stated that there should be a relationship between music and visuals, eitherillustrative, amplifying or contradictive. In the music video it is clear to see a very strongrelationship between the music and the visuals.Firstly there are a lot of dancers in the music video whose moves are quick and sharp whichmatch the speed and beat of the music. Their moves are repeated several times throughoutthe music video in sync with the repetitiveness of the beat of the music. All of the visualsonscreen are very harmonized and in time which really suits the music well and helps to keepthe audience connected to both the music and visuals at once.However when the tempo and beat of the music begin to change so do the facial expressionsand poses of the dancers and band members, this is shown particularly at the end of themusic video when the music completely changes and the audience are left with a girl dancingalone in a burning room. This is done to break up the repetitiveness of the lyrics and music tomake both the music and visuals more attention-grabbing for the audience.
  • 6. Goodwin’s theory states that the record label willinclude the need for lots of close ups of the artistin order to introduce the band to the audience.The music video for ‘Islands’ uses no close ups, there is only one continuous zooming shotwhich is repeated over and over againthroughout the entire music video.The reason why the director of this music videohas gone against this need for close ups toestablish their visual style is because The XX’sstyle is already defined as quite dark andsimplistic with little focus on the band’s physicalappearance but more on the dramatic lighting inone dim room which seems to match the dualvocalist’s monotonous voices well.
  • 7. There is no reference to notion of looking or voyeuristic treatment of the female bodyin this music video , especially because of the vocalists is a female herself and byhaving voyeuristic behaviours in their music video could push away and alienate alarge proportion of the female fans that listen to their music.To back this up, I have gathered evidence from the statistics on YouTube which showswhat age group and gender the music video is most popular with:Top demographicsFemale, 13-17 yearsFemale, 18-24 yearsMale, 25-34 yearsThe XX are a band who have established their style by focusing upon their uniquesounds which are particularly emphasized by the dramatic lighting in their musicvideos rather than having voyeuristic behaviour or frequent reference to notion oflooking.
  • 8. There is no intertextual reference to films, TVprogrammes or other music videos in thevideo ‘Islands’. The main reason for this couldbe the fact that the band want the audienceto be completely focused on their own songand music which is made apparent becausethe logo of the band is printed everywhere onthe walls in the visuals for the musicvideo, this helps to emphasize theirindividuality as a unique band.This is also quite a key principle of indiemusic, to not have these intertextualreferences. This helps to show the audiencethat this band are essentially true to theirroots and they’re trying not to bemainstream.
  • 9. The music video is primarily performance basedwhich is a typical characteristic of indie music.The reason for this is because all indie bandswant to show their audience that their main skillsare being able to play live music really well whichwill make it easier for them to sell tickets whenthey are on tour. The performance in the musicvideo really lights up the screen, especially withmise-en-scene, the lighting is particularlyeffective in this case because it sets a calmatmosphere for the audience. All of the elementsused for the mise-en-scene are utilised to theirfull potential to grab the attention of theiraudience – this is why the band The XX havebeen so successful in such a short space oftime, ever since they released their debut albumin August 2009.