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A2 Media Studies

Textual Analysis of a Music Video

Music video: Death Cab for Cutie's 'You are a Tourist'

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  1. 1. Textual Analysis based on Andrew Goodwin’s ‘6 Features of Music Videos’ <br />Music video for ‘You are a tourist’ <br />by Death Cab for Cutie<br />
  2. 2. 1. ‘Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics.’<br />It is a performance-based music video, as typical of the alternative ‘indie’ genre, but it includes elements and concepts such as kaleidoscopic lighting, dancers and actors, who all come in with the rhythm of the music and the vocals. The stage at the climax of the music video is a good example of this trait.<br />
  3. 3. 2. ‘There is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals.’<br />There is some relation between the lyrics and the visual aspects of the video, for example for the first verse of the song in the lines 'Don't be alarmed', lights begin to flash brightly in reference to the previous lines 'Build it bigger than the sun/Let it grow, let it grow'. 'It' refers to the 'yearning' in the first line of the verse and therefore represents what the verse is about. Additionally, the scenes in which the band performs in are a mix of places and people, which quite evidently represents the song title itself.<br />
  4. 4. 3. ‘There is a relationship between the music and the visuals.’<br />The music is represented through the concept of the visuals. The imagery and design coincides with the rhythm of the music, and often times the lighting is coordinated to amplify the guitar riffs, especially at the beginning when the lead singer begins to play the intro and the lighting patterns on the trees appear to the rhythm of the guitar. Another good example of this is the beat of the drum being that of a heart, and each member is wearing a set of red lights that look like a heart which light up to look like heartbeats. The piano also has its own lighting effects, when each dancer next to the pianist flashes as each chord is played.<br />
  5. 5. 4. ‘The demands of the record label will include the for CUs of the artist, as well as recurring motifs across their work.’<br />There is 'meat' included into the music video to promote the band from the very start, as the band's lead singer is shown walking through a tunnel and almost immediately is brought to an MCU shot. After the bridge of the song, all band members are shown performing atop a stage in front of a city scene with the lights in the windows lighting up to the beat of the song. The band does not a have a visual trademark, a trait more common within pop and techno genres such as Lady Gaga and Daft Punk, but the creative concept of the video is typical of the band. <br />
  6. 6. 5. ‘There is frequently reference to the notion of looking, as well as the voyeuristic treatment of the female body.’<br />The only utilisation of voyeuristic elements in the video are the use of the stage at the end of the song's bridge. The female cabaret dancers are shown in the final scene of the video creating patterns through their routine due to the high angle shot and the lighting effects, which contribute to that aspect.<br />
  7. 7. 6. ‘There are often intertextual references (to films, other music videos, etc.)’<br />There is not a lot of explicit intertextual references, but the use of mise-en-scene of the kaleidoscopic lighting, the unique routine, the iconography and the animated lighting effects as a backdrop for the whole setting remind me of a parade or maybe a walk a person would take and the sights they'd see in a bustling lifestyle.<br />