When I was a young gal, there was a thing called MTV. It was a station that aired music videos - stay with me - and nothing else. No reality shows featuring teen moms or people from Jersey with fake tans. There was something called “TRL,” or “Total Request Live,” which aired the most popular videos of the time everyday. Teenagers were obsessed with this show - me included. I would race home from school every afternoon to see which of my favorite popstars made the cut.
In those days, Britney Spears represented the height of music videos. She had killer dance moves, catchy lyrics, and AutoTune. For the past decade or so, everyone has been proclaiming the music video to be dead. Of course, things aren’t like they used to be, but the music video isn’t a completely extinct art form. Here are 6 reasons why.
1. They introduce us to new artists.
YouTube is now our main conduit for new music videos. The fact that anyone can upload a video means that we don’t need producers and record contracts to determine what becomes popular. Because the videos are in the hands of the people, that also means that every once in a while, a fresh, new artist will burst on the scene. Their video becomes a hit simply because people like it enough to share it with their friends. Case in point: Meghan Trainor. Her video for “All About That Bass” was originally uploaded on June 11. Now, it’s been viewed more than 94 million times. The video was so popular that it propelled the single straight to #1 on the Billboard charts, and we have a new artist we can add to our playlist.
2. They create new cultural trends.
As much as anyone cringes when they hear “Gangnam Style” today, that song was a huge phenomenon. The video made Korean entertainer Psy a global superstar, and the video has been viewed an astounding 2 billion (!) times since it debuted in 2012. It was the first video on YouTube to reach more than 1 billion views and is the site’s single most watched video ever. When a video becomes this popular, it definitely creates new cultural trends. Anytime a dance makes its way onto every wedding dance floor in America, you know it’s a big deal. “Gangnam Style” is proof that music videos still have the power to influence pop culture.
3. They catapult songs onto the charts.
Sure most big pop stars don’t need videos to make their songs popular, but they sure do help. Taylor Swift recently released the video for her new single, “Shake It Off,” before the song hit the radio airwaves. This move definitely worked in her favor - everyone was talking about the video before the song even came out. Her song then debuted at #1 on the charts, and the video has now been viewed more than 121 million times since it premiered a little over a month ago!
4. They reaffirm why some artists are popular.
Some artists release music videos just so that we remember how awesome they are. Beyonce is a prime example of this. If anyone ever doubts that she’s the Queen, they just have to tune into her YouTube channel, and check out her incredibly good music videos. Whether she’s offering a message of self-acceptance (like in “Pretty Hurts”) or showing off her hot bod (evident in “Drunk in Love”), music videos help artists demonstrate why they deserve to rule the charts.
5. They provide new collaborations.
Music videos are often a great avenue for debuting collaborations. Fans of the hot new song, “Bang Bang,” were thrilled to see a video of Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj working it together. The lesson being that sometimes we don’t know we’ll love a pairing until we see them show off their stuff in a video.
6. They get people talking.
Videos still have the power to stir up controversy or just get some general gossip going at the watercooler. J. Lo and Iggy Azalea’s new video for “Booty” has people both singing its praises and denigrating it left and right - it’s always good to inspire some good old fashioned debate, right? Other examples? Think Miley Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball - that definitely got some tongues wagging (like Miley’s, hehe, get it?). Any medium that can get people talking is one that isn’t quite dead yet!
Long live the music video!