Music Video Analysis
By Aaron Hunter
• I have chosen to analyse a music video from the
band ‘Imagine Dragons’. Imagine Dragons consists
of four members; vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist
Daniel Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and
drummer Daniel Platzman. The bands front man
and lead singer Dan Reynolds was, at first,
reluctant to become a professional musician,
however, upon meeting Wayne Sermon and
Andrew Tolman (former band member) in Utah,
decided to form Imagine Dragons.
About The Band
The band was catapulted into the spotlight after the release of their debut solo
album ‘Night Visions’ in 2012. After the albums release, it gained widespread
popularity, leading to the band becoming very popular for festivals and gigs.
Imagine Dragons are associated with alternative rock and Dan Reynolds has
previously cited bands such as Nirvana, Muse and The Beatles amongst others
as the bands main artistic influences.
The target audience for Imagine Dragons is both male and female between the
ages of 16-25. Their interests would include listening to music and other
activities such as skateboarding etc. due to the youthful age demographic (16-
25). Younger audience members may also look up to the members of the band,
leading to them being influenced by the way they dress and act due to the
overall nature of the bands music and lyrics that accompany it.
The band is contracted to the record label ‘Interscope Records’, an American
company based in Santa Monica, California. The institution represents artists
across a wide range of genres, including Eminem, Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Maroon
5 and Lady Gaga along with various others. Due to many well-known artists
being contracted to the label, it could be argued that the label has some
influence on the band, in comparison to other artists who are contracted to less
known independent labels, allowing them more freedom.
The music video that I have chosen to analyse by the band is called ‘It’s Time’ from their new album ‘Night
Visions’ I believe the budget for the video would have been quite large due to the overall setting being
unnatural and many effects being used throughout the video. Filming would have possibly taken place in a
studio with green screens being used to create the barren setting.
The genre of the music video is indie rock (a sub-genre of alternative rock) and is evident due to several factors;
the use of instruments, the pace of the song and the lyrics combined with the way in which the song is sung. In
my opinion the band follow lots of conventions, however some are still broken in parts throughout the video.
The style of the lead singer Dan Reynolds (and the other members) follows the conventions of rock because he
is wearing dark clothing, including a black leather jacket. These dark colours help to convey to the audience the
genre of a song due to darker colours being stereotypical of the rock genre. However, in rock videos there is
often a split of camera shots (filming) of the storyline (narrative) being displayed, and shots of the band with
instruments and singing (performance). In ‘It’s Time’ by Imagine Dragons, there is very little performance and
instead a narrative storyline which follows the band as a whole as they venture across a wasteland. This
contrasts against popular alternative rock/hard rock band Foo Fighters in their alternative rock song ‘Everlong’
where there is evidence of both performance and narrative.
‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters (1997); Narrative – left, performance – right.
In my opinion, there are some conventions that can only be found in the rock/alternative genre. If
performance is used in a rock music video, the costume will rarely ever change in contrast to various
pop artists such as Katy Perry or Justin Bieber. Throughout music videos produced by these artists, there
is often a change of costume/props because both style and image are important factors and key
representations of their music genre. Artists of pop may also feel a degree of responsibility to engage
their young target audience, and a constant change of costume will keep their audience aware of the
latest fashion trends.
Dan Reynolds in ‘It’s Time’ wears the same costume throughout the video, whereas Katy Perry in ‘This Is
How We Do’ changes her costume throughout with the purpose of maintaining her young target
One of the main conventions of alternative rock music videos is the use of instruments such as the drums and the
electric guitar. Other genres also use these instruments but the electric guitar and drums are a key representation of
the rock genre. The use of various camera shots and close ups of these instruments are conventional within rock music
videos due to there being an emphasis on the music in comparison to, as previously mentioned, Katy Perry as she is
viewed as a fashion icon as well as a singing icon.
Genre conventions are very important to music videos because they give the audience an immediate recognition of
what the genre is, therefore they will be more inclined to watch the video. If the music video is coherent with both the
lyrics and genre, the target audience will gain more pleasure/satisfaction with the product.
In the alternative rock genre, the types of narratives used in the music videos are often ones telling stories, possibly of
personal experiences that artists have had in real life. The narrative used in ‘It’s Time’ is not very relatable due to the
band walking through a barren wasteland which would more than likely be down to the work of green screen effects.
However, the lyrics describe the narrators resistance to change in the face of turmoil, which could very much relate to
the target audience because of their age demographic (16-25). This would particularly have some relatability to the late
teens/young adults because they are at a time in their lives where they are going through a lot of changes.
The video is mainly narrative based as there are only small portions of performance (the camera shots of Dan Reynolds
singing and the instruments). Stereotypically in alternative rock, there is a mixture of both narrative and performance,
allowing the target audience to feel the passion of the music from the two. In contrast to the pop genre which
stereotypically is more performance based with the purpose of engaging their youthful target audience of young girls.
From a personal point of view, I feel that the narrative of ‘It’s Time’ could potentially confuse younger members of the
16-25 age demographic as it is not realistic, making it hard to relate to. However, as previously mentioned, the lyrics of
the song are very much relatable due to them being about times of hardship which many of the target audience
members can relate to from personal experiences.
Imagine Dragons as a group sharing equal roles within the video walking through a post-apocalyptic looking wasteland
in the narrative section of the music video.
Change In Representation…
The music, lyrics and iconography all combine, producing a coherent idea because, for example, the lyrics of “and now it’s time to
build from the bottom of the pit” in the song matches the video as the setting looks destroyed, therefore a rebuilding process is
required. Due to the severe state of the bands surroundings within the video, different angles and shots are used to help convey
to the audience the devastation that has been caused to what looks like San Francisco (due to the run down golden gate bridge in
In the music video, all of the band feature alongside one and other, however it is clear that the main character and protagonist is
lead singer of Imagine Dragons – Dan Reynolds. The rest of the band feature very prominently during the narrative, however
Reynolds is always ahead of them and is also the main feature during the performance side of the video. Reynolds is represented
as his typical star persona through his image, black leather jacket and dark clothes – a darker than usual style following the
stereotypical conventions of rock. The main focus is on Reynolds as he is almost always in the centre of the shot, connoting that
he is on a personal mission and that the other band members are there to support.
The representations of groups of men are portrayed in the music video. An example of this would be that all male friendship
groups stick together through times of uncertainty and hardship. The primary target audience could relate to this through
personal experience as stereotypically teenagers and young adults tend to all look out for their peers within their friendship
groups. The side angle extreme long shot of the band walking through the wasteland could connote that that they are all the
same and that there is no hierarchy within the group.
The representations of both alternative rock and rock in general have developed over time, leading to modern day rock becoming
far more simplistic in comparison to earlier artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Bands such as Queen who were at pinnacle of rock
during the 70s and 80s, along with Sum 41 during the late 90s, look very different to modern rock artists due to the evolution of
Imagine Dragons (left) – modern day rock artist. Queen and Sum 41 (right) – in the 70s and late 90s.
An ideology presented within the music video is that males care about their peers within their
social group. As seen in the video, lead singer Dan Reynolds prominently features as the bands
figurehead as the others follow him. The narrative suggests that he is on a troubled mission and
that his fellow friends and band members are willing to travel with him pretty much wherever he
goes. This is similar to young males within the 16-25 age demographic due to them wanting to
look out (and be looked out for) for others in their social group. There are not many other explicit
ideologies conveyed in the video, in contrast to perhaps harder versions of rock. Other bands
videos of the genre may present ideologies to do with attitudes held by their target audiences
etc. in order to appeal to them.
So overall some of the ideologies which are stereotypical of alternative rock are not displayed
within this particular video due to the overall theme and lyrics of ‘It’s Time’. In alternative rock
musicz videos there tends to be a story (narrative) which has a beginning and an end. Members
of the target audience are able to deconstruct the music video in order to find messages and
values being given by the artist. Another important factor is the lyrics as they help the music
video have a coherent feel and enable ideologies, messages and values to be understood easier. A
typical example of an ideology mostly associated with rock music is that the artists within the
genre are ‘care-free’ and only care about music, instead of their looks.
Editing Within The Video…
Editing is use in a multitude of ways throughout the music video. An example of this would be POV cutting
when the band are slowly walking whilst looking towards the cracked ground as they travel across the
wasteland. The audience see the bands view from a first-person perspective because of the POV cutting. This
could connote an implicit ideology that the target audience should not ‘look down’ in troubles times, but
instead look to the future, keep moving forward and stay positive.
Both the music and the lyrics accompanying it aren’t very fast in the music video and the editing very much
matches the medium pace of the song. This is due to the use of the straight cuts (and others) which aren’t used
at a very fast pace, which helps the continuity of the music video. In alternative rock, less ‘happy’ and possibly
serious type songs have a slower rate at editing to match the flow of the music. This contrasts to the more
‘lively’ and ‘fun’ music videos prominent in the pop genre, which would use quick editing to match the tempo
of the song. In the ‘Hip hop’ genre, conventionally the music is very fast paced and the editing used in the
video will match that. This enables the target audience of the Hip hop genre to feel more engaged with the
video, maintaining their interest.
‘Berzerk’ by Eminem (2013) – Fast paced song matched with fast paced editing.
Camera shots are used in order to help follow the conventions of alternative rock in the music video. Throughout the
video, there are lots of medium shots, mid close-ups and long shots of the band as they journey across the barren
setting. The mid close-ups of Dan Reynolds help to portray to the audience that he is a popular star and figure head of
the band. As the camera pans around Reynolds, the low angle shot suggests that he is in a low place, and provides a
sense of realism to the video. It connotes that although he is a massive star, he also faces his own battles/difficulties
that others may not be aware of, providing the target audience with a sense of unity between themselves and
The mise-en-scene within the video reflects that of a typical alternative rock music video due to a number of things.
The bands costumes follow the conventions of rock because they are all wearing dark clothing which could appeal to
the target audience as it may match their style. The dark, barren setting helps follow conventions of the genre, however
a small portion of realism and a relatable factor is taken away due to the setting being unnatural.
A slight weakness to the music video is that there is very little performance from the band. This could be considered a
weakness as modern genric music video structures tend to have an equal balance between narrative and performance.
However, due to the nature of the video, it allows the band to go against some typical conventions of rock/music videos
because the lyrics can relate to the stereotypical target audience as they are possibly telling a personal story.
Overall, the music video attracts the target audience (16-25 year olds) because the song is about the narrators
resistance to change in the face of turmoil. Some of the messages and values displayed in the video relate to the target
audience and also both genders, male and female. The lyrics/video allow them to engage with the scenario at hand due
to possible similar personal experiences they may have encountered. Lastly, a key point that will help the target
audience be attracted to the video, is that the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds is at the forefront of most
of the shots. Reynolds is the figure head and more than likely most popular member of the band, making it logic to
place him as the center of attention throughout the video, engaging audience interest.
Examples of stereotypical members of the target audience (alternative rock).
In conclusion, I have learnt lots of things when analysing this music video by Imagine Dragons. I have learnt
that when we (my group) come to make our music video, we don’t have to include both narrative and
performance. We have to try and make our video appeal to the target audience as much as possible in order to
try and engage them. An example of this and one that is evident in most alternative rock music videos, is to
include a narrative of a personal and relatable story. Another important factor that I have learnt is that editing
links in with the pace of the song and so we need to match the pace of the music with the pace of the editing.
Mise-en-scene is important because the props/costumes need to follow the conventions of the alternative rock
genre. The setting also plays an important role within the video, therefore we need to consider both locations
and lighting along with other elements. What makes ‘It’s Time’ so appealing, is the quality of the videos overall
construction. We need to take extra care when constructing our music video, making sure that we use good
editing; a range of camera shots and include a good narrative in order to appeal to our target audience.