Parklife - Blur (1994) Textual Analysis of a Music Video
The Video: <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIEsmGzo2UE </li></ul><ul><li>Blur are an alternative rock band formed in 1989. Along with chart rivals Oasis, they helped shape the sound of nineties music, notably Britpop. </li></ul><ul><li>This single, Parklife, is from their album of the same name and features narrative verses from actor Phil Daniels, who also stars in the video. </li></ul>
Genre Characteristics <ul><li>Genre: Britpop/ alternative rock </li></ul>Clearly this is an unusual music video that does not conform to the standard conventions of a music video from this genre. However, as this genre is generally prone to abstract artistic direction it is difficult to define an exact set of conventions. Alternative rock and especially Britpop is seen as an unusual style of music with artists varying differently from each other. I have made the above assumptions from viewing other Blur videos and Oasis videos. Expected conventions/ characteristics of genre Characteristics of ‘Parklife’ Usually performance elements A story interwoven with scenes of band performing Dynamic/edgy clothing Low lighting Fast paced Jump cuts and cross cutting used Unusual setting to convey depth of meaning Can include abstract imagery and be concept based No performance element that includes entire band Lip-sync with Phil Daniels and main vocalist in Blur Key and fill lighting Mundane setting Comedy elements: exaggerated facial expression during lip-sync Narration of camera Unusual camera angles, extreme close ups, special effects and shots upside down (I.e upside down car at 2:13)
Lyrics and Visuals <ul><li>In this video there is a strong link between the lyrics of the song and the imagery throughout the video. The most immediate tie in is the use of animated lip-sync, from both actor Phil Daniels and frontman Damon Albarn, which stresses the lyrics, often in a humorous way. </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout the video the title of the song ‘Parklife’ appears in a variety of ways; mostly on street signs and on the road. </li></ul>
Another example is when Phil Daniels says “It’s not about you joggers who go round, and around, and around” and a shot featuring a jogger, in the background, running past the window of their car is shown. This is combined with a mid-shot of the jogger running and then a long shot using trick photography and crosscutting. The jogger is band member Graham Coxon.
Music and Visuals <ul><li>The tempo of the music is fast paced and features repetitive guitar riffs, the style and pace of the video mimics this to a certain extent. </li></ul><ul><li>At some points throughout the video there is a link between the music and the visuals. The most apparent example of this is after 3:00 and notably between 3.07-3.09 where the band members open and close colourful umbrellas in time to the rhythm of the music. </li></ul>
Star Image <ul><li>Unusually for a music video the protagonist is not a band member (despite contributing to narrative passages in the song). The frontman takes secondary focus (seen in still on the right) and the remainder of the band make cameo appearances. Phil Daniels is the main focus of the video playing a smarmy door to door sales man driving around ‘what is known as Parklife’. The video features several shots including extreme close ups (shown on right) which add humour and the shot on the left is using a fish eye lens as it is supposed to resemble looking through an eyehole in a door. </li></ul>Humourous Cheeky grin: likeable yet smarmy character Frontman in background, standing behind star persona this connotes inferiority Extreme close-up. Unusual camera angle, highlights Daniels as main person in music video.
Voyeurism <ul><li>Although there is no voyuerism in this video, at 2.45 there is a shot of a band member dressed as a woman, perched on a car in a provocative position. This is done to parody the use of voyeurism in many modern music videos, especially in relation to cars. </li></ul>
Intertextuality <ul><li>Phil Daniels character resembles the main characters in the 1987 comedy film ‘Tin Men’ </li></ul><ul><li>At 2.15 the band crosses a crossing in a way that is very similar to the iconic picture of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road. </li></ul>Also at one point a man which a sandwich board spins around to reveal ‘End of A Century’ and ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ on each side. These are the names of other Blur albums.
Style <ul><li>Although lip-sync is used the video is mostly concept based with loose elements of narrative woven in. No real story line is followed through and a large amount of the imagery is unrelated to the song (I.e shopping trolleys, ice cream trucks and umbrellas) although arguably they do show ‘Parklife’. The main concept is Phil Daniels illustrating the song and some imagery corresponds to the lyrics. I have stated that it also contains performance based elements as the frontman does also lip-sync to the song but we do not see the band play the song collectively. </li></ul>