Postmodernism in Music Videos

2/01/2016 April 0 Comments

Music videos are often considered postmodern as they use bricolage and could be considered as pastiches, parodies or homages to other texts. Sam Smith's music video for Spectre could be considered postmodern as it pays homage to the James Bond series and Spectre itself. The music video also uses bricolages as it takes scenes directly from the film and it recreates scenes from Spectre and Skyfall. It also self references by referring to parts of the film it is based upon. James Bond and the music video show how high and low culture are unstable as the film and video appeal to everyone no mater their status. For example, the Royal Family attended the Spectre premiere and it has/can also be watched by those of a lower status. Another example is Taylor Swifts music video Safe & Sound.

Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift
Safe & Sound is inspired by the 2012 film The Hunger Games and was the single for the film. The music video could be seen to use intertextuality as it is inspired by the film and book series. Elements of Safe & Sound are about the relationship between the protagonist Katniss and her sister Prim. It could be seen as paying homage to the film and book series as many of the scenes in the video are related to scenes and elements of the book and film. The scenes have not been directly copied but they have inspired the creators of the video to create something new. For example, there is a scene in the video where the game makers use fire to prevent the tributes hiding. One of the more obvious references in the film is when Taylor Swift picks up a Mockingjay pin.

The Hunger Games itself s about a post apocalyptic work in which children are set to fight to the death to keep the people of the districts in line and to prevent them from uprising. It could be suggesting that there is nothing to come afterwards and that this is what happens after modernism- civilisation and modernism has disintegrated and what is left is a dull post-apocalyptic world. This could be inferred from the lighting and editing in the video. Much of the video has dull dark lighting which suggests a bleak world.

There are some less obvious references to the film in the video, for example theres is a scenes in a graveyard which shows a real couples graves which could be a reference to Katniss and Peeta being the star-crossed lovers of District 12. This could be seen as intertextual. The lyrics of the sing and the meaning of the lyrics are in itself a retelling of the story. It has a lullaby feel which could reference when Katniss sings to her sister and then Rue in the film. This could be seen as postmodern as nothing new or original has been created, the song is inspired by other texts.

The music video couldn't be fully understood with out knowledge of the film or the book series. This is considered by some as a feature of postmodern texts, they rely on foreknowledge and a knowing audience who is aware. Theorists have suggested that it could be argued that the music video is a postmodern stage of the evolution of cinema. This could apply to Safe & Sound as the music video has condensed a 2 hour film into a 3 minute video.


Writing's on the Wall by Sam Smith 
Like Safe & Sound, Writing's on the Wall is a song based on a film. However, the music video for Writings on the Wall uses  a different technique to tell the story. Bothe could be considered as homages to their original text but what Writings on the Wall does differently is that it uses bricolage and pastiche. The video uses scenes directly from the film which inspired it. They have pasted together scenes directly from the film with Smith singing in scenes that were used for the film. This could be seen as pastiche as hey are recreating scenes directly from the James Bond films in a respectful way.

Like the Hunger Games, James Bond in itself could be considered as postmodern as nothing new is really being created in the films. The series has been running for more than 50 years, most of hr scenes in the films are recreations of scenes in the older films or the books they are based on. Spectre uses characters who've been seen in previous films and makes references to the previous films. The video shows scenes from they film which show key iconography of the film e.g. the Bond Girls, weapons and the suit. The scenes have been carefully chosen so that they give you a taste of the film but so that key plot points aren't given away. Writing's on the Wall could therefore be considered as a copy of a copy.

The lyrics of the song pay homage to the original film and because it is based on a film it shows that is is self aware. The music video like Safe & Sound, couldn't be fully understood without seeing the film.