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What is 'Music videos'? A music video is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music/song. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a device intended to promote the sale of music recordings and the artist. Music videos use a wide range of styles of film making techniques, including animation, live action filming, documentaries, and non-narrative approaches such as abstract film.
The Little Lost Child In 1894 when sheet music publishers still ran the music business, Edward B. Marks and Joe Stern hired electrician George Thomas and various performers to promote sales of their song ‘The Little Lost Child’. Thomas projected a series of still images on a screen simultaneously with live performances in what became a popular form of entertainment known as the ‘illustrated song’. This has been termed the first illustrated song, the first step toward music videos.
1926 In 1926, with the arrival of "talkies" many musical short films were produced. ‘Vitaphone shorts’ which were produced by Warner Bros, featured many bands, vocalists and dancers. The series entitled ‘Spooney Melodies’ was the first true musical video series. The shorts were typically about six minutes in duration, and featured art deco style animations and backgrounds combined with film of the performer singing the song. This series of shorts can also arguably be considered to be the earliest music videos.
1960-1967: Visual innovation One of the earliest performance clips in 1960s pop was the promo film made by ‘The Animals’ for their breakthrough 1964 hit "House Of The Rising Sun". This colour clip was filmed in a studio on a specially-built set; it features the group in a lip-synched performance, depicted through an edited sequence of tracking shots, close ups and long shots, as singer Eric Burdon, guitarist Hilton Valentine and bassist Chas Chandler walked around the set in a series of choreographed moves.
ruutgy The Beatles In 1964, The Beatles starred in their first feature film ‘A Hard Day's Night’. Shot in black-and-white and presented as a mock documentary, it was a loosely structured musical fantasia interspersing comedic and dialogue with musical sequences. The Beatles' second feature ‘Help!’ (1965) was filmed in colour. The title track sequence, filmed in black-and-white, is arguably one of the prime archetypes of the modern performance-style music video, employing rhythmic cross-cutting, contrasting long shots and close-ups, and unusual shots and camera angles, such as the shot near the end of the song. The colour promotional clips for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’, made in early 1967 took the promotional film format to a new level. They used new techniques, including reversed film and slow motion, dramatic lighting, unusual camera angles and colour filtering added in post-production.
1967-1973 The clip for Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" was featured in Pennebaker's Dylan film documentary Don't Look Back. Avoiding any attempt to simulate performance or present a narrative, the clip shows Dylan standing in a city back alley, silently shuffling a series of large cue cards (bearing key words from the song's lyrics). This was a unique way to present their song and it encouraged different and original ideas as the years went by.