Annabelle Fernandez looks at the enduring relevance of music videos in the ever- evolving world of music and fashion.
<b>Sub Editor</b> ANNABELLE FERNANDEZ
When Beyoncé dropped her surprise visual album Lemonade last year, I, along with the rest of the world, responded in the same way. On Twitter, Tumblr and all corners of the Internet, every lyric was discussed, dissected and analysed to the nth degree, as was every outfit Bey wore in the vignettes accompanying each track. Released as a 60-minute HBO documentary, Beyoncé combined musicvisuals and a strong narrative in a coherent, consistent way like no other artist had before. But at the same time, she was also following the lead of a long line of hit makers before her.
From The Beatles and Queen, who used promotional films to brilliant effect even before the first days of MTV, to Michael Jackson’s 14-minute-long “Thriller” video—played in heavy rotation on the music channel, and considered so iconic that the red leather jacket Jackson wore in it sold for US$1.8 million at an auction in 2011—the power of striking imagery combined with music cannot be overstated. After all, you might not have been born when the “Thriller” video was released in 1983, but you would definitely have watched it—and know of said leather jacket. And while the mediums on which we view these videos continue to evolve, the impact of music videos on popular culture is as strong as ever.
Last year, video hosting service Vevo released a white paper titled “How Influential Are Music Videos on Beauty & Style?” The key findings discussed in the paper prove the stronghold of influence that music videos—and musicians—wield on millennials and Generation Z. One of these findings was that “Viewers are driven by music videos to create looks of their own.” Upon seeing a music video, half ofVevo users are likely to share style ideas with their friends—and, of course, to incorporate these ideas into their own looks. On a Saturday night, your average teen might not don a Tommy Hilfiger crochet maxi dress with Giuseppe Zanotti sandals à la Rihanna in “Work”, but the video is undoubtedly a wealth of sartorial and beauty inspiration. From pop stars like RiRi and Bey to indie darlings Grimes and Solange Knowles and hip-hop/R&B stalwarts Kanye West and Frank Ocean, these musicians have a strong aesthetic that extends from their wardrobe to album visuals and music videos. No wonder, then, that 68 percent of Vevo users aged 13 to 34 agreed that musicians are in control of their own style and the brands they use or wear.
Thanks to this idea of authenticity—one of the most important marketing buzzwords around right now—brands have embraced the relationship between music videos and consumers, some taking things a step further by blurring the lines between music videos and fashion campaigns—so far, in ways that have rung true for both band and brand. As a fan of Raf Simons and The xx, I was thrilled to find out that Calvin Klein’s Chief Creative Officer had teamed up with the band on the creative concept and direction for “I Dare You”. This saw a host of Calvin Klein collaborators appearing in the video, including muses like Millie Bobby Brown and Paris Jackson, and models Lulu and Ernesto Cervantes, who appeared in the brand’s fall 2017 runway show and campaign. Similarly, when Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing collaborated with Kanye West on the video for “Wolves”, which also acted as the brand’s fall 2016 campaign, it was a move that felt completely natural—not least because it starred Kim Kardashian West, and models such as Joan Smalls and Alessandra Ambrosio from the Balmain Army.
Music and fashion have long been bedfellows, coming together in ways that continue to revolutionise the cultural landscape. The power of a music video is such that, even as a musician moves onto his/her next album, and a brand moves on to its next collection, it remains; immortalising that moment, and union, in time.
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