The Agony and the Egocentricity: 10 Things I Have Learned Whilst Doing Music Video Reviews

1. Actual scripts are unimportant.

  Why waste time paying people to come up with an original idea.? All you need is someone that can push the “on” button for the camera, some cool threads from the hottest fashion designer of the last half hour, and enough beer in stock to convince the talent-deprived “lead singer” to come out of his posse wagon for a few minutes. Done.

2. Hire extras with no sense of self-worth.

  You must employ at least seven dim-witted, validation-seeking women or men, whichever is the opposite of the “artist” whose name will eventually end up on the CD after all the packaging has been decided. (Actual sexual orientation of the “artist” is not to be considered. Lowest common denominator, people. Live it.) If you discover that any of the seven have more than two syllables in their name, fire them immediately. We don’t have time for them to figure out if they are being called to the shoot.

  The dimwits must be able to perform three duties flawlessly. They must exuberantly paw at any body part proffered by the “artist” every time it is proffered, even if they are relegated to small-toe duty. They must gaze at the “artist” with uncontrollable lust, even if the “artist” is the ugliest damn creature to walk the face of the planet, which they often are. Finally, they must be willing to wear skimpy clothing that people in other professions would call “air”.

3. The “artist” must have a signature move.

  It doesn’t matter what the move is, just that they do it often enough that zombified viewers instinctively began to copy the move after repeat airings of the video. If the stars align pleasingly, the move will be turned into a dance craze. When this happens, you must give the move a blatantly-sexual name, preferably including a genital reference. The latest demographic research indicates that the nation is primed for “The Johnson Jump” and “The Vulva Whiplash”, as long as your marketing people can get this craze in action within the next 13 days.

4. The “artist”, if male, must be overly fond of his penis.

  He must touch it frequently throughout the video, demonstrably showing his pride and affection, regardless of the statistical merit of the member. Studies have shown that the touching does not have to occur “on the beat” or with any implied choreography. Random touching has proved to be just as much of a driver in positive online voting as structured touching. (Side note: Inform the female dimwits that they must never get their hair or their breasts in the way of the touching.)

5. The “artist”, if female, must have complete disdain for foundation garments.

  No bras are allowed on set. Ever. The “artist” must be perfectly willing to flaunt her cleavage with wild abandon, preferably with visible indication that she is indeed aroused by the inane lyrics of the song. If you must hire a professional nipple-fluffer, do so without hesitation. There are websites with trained specialists.

6. Line dances always work, regardless of logic or meaning.

  Always. You should have at least two scenes devoted to synchronized maneuvering. It’s beneficial that the “artist” at least minimally participate in these sequences, but not necessary. As long as the backup dancers have an ounce or two of rhythm, you’re golden. Do not worry about plot integrity. No one ever does.

7. Try to arrange for some “featured artist” billing.

  This is not always possible, since some “artists” haven’t figured out that they were completely manufactured and will fight you on this issue. But if the main “artist” is willing, such as the “artists” coming off a prison sentence or those facing tax-evasion or morals charges, you need to package this puppy up. It doesn’t matter who they are, hire two or three “guests”. It’s unimportant if their musical style is completely different from the main “artist”.

  Trending analysis has shown that consumers become very excited about a song with a “featured” secondary artist, even if they have no idea who that other person is. These consumers, who will hopefully never run for public office, actually think they are getting two songs for the price of one. In actuality, they are getting half a song from the main “artist”, and then some discordant, pointless crap shoved in the middle of it. Rapping is generally involved.

8. Don’t worry about what you actually capture on film.

  Leave it to the editors, who are the actual directors, despite the billing. Word.

9. Package the video like a little movie.

  Use opening credits, with “starring this” and “featuring that” and a flashy title. Treat the release like an actual movie premiere, with waving spotlights in the sky and hundreds of desperate starlets arriving in rented limos, praising songs and people they’ve never heard or seen. Call Ryan Seacrest. He’ll promo anything for the right amount of money.

  It doesn’t matter that your movie will be over while most people are still in line at the concession stand, debating on whether they want the tub or the wheelbarrow of popcorn. Disappointment does not matter in the entertainment world. Quality doesn’t matter. A million re-tweets on Twitter by people with too much time on their hands? Bingo.

10. When all else fails?

  Have your “artist” go into re-hab. Throw in some mess about childhood issues and just wanting to be loved, whatever. Wait a few months and then stage the “artist’s” release from treatment as something more important than a presidential election. Which, sadly, it probably will be. If all goes well with your artist’s “sorry-not-sorry” press conference, you’ll be back at the top of the charts within seconds.

But keep an eye on the dimwits you have rehired for the fake audience, shedding bogus tears and thanking Jesus for the artist’s immaculate redemption. They may be slow, but they are desperate. Yearning, secretly plotting against the artist, releasing private emails to Wikileaks and working with the Russian government. There is nothing more dangerous than an unqualified, untalented dimwit with delusions of grandeur who will say or do anything to get what he wants, especially if he has millions of clueless followers on social media. (Rhymes with “Stump”.)

Previously published, mildly updated for this post. Story behind the photo: An interior shot of one of the cars at the “Cadillac Ranch” art installation outside Amarillo, Texas. It has nothing to do with music and it’s not clear what you’re looking at, which is the point of this entire post…

33 replies »

  1. I’ve noticed that some of these artists think they should be making ACTUAL movies. The kind shown in boutique theaters with subtitles, that everyone pretends to LOVE but no one really understands.

    I remember MTV in it’s infancy, and I’ve seen some bizarre and pointless videos, but this new Film School Dropout approach has even shaking my head and wondering what brand of glue they were sniffin🤷🏼‍♀️

    I love the picture! It’s like trippin on acid without the side effects… or so I’ve heard 🙊

    Liked by 4 people

    • To me, much of the “music” today is all about packaging and demographics, with little effort actually put into substance and songwriting. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some very fine music being made by certain artists, but it’s hard to find them sometimes.

      I still remember MTV premiering. (I was 16 in 1981.) We would spend the whole weekend watching every second, and then we would go to school and talk about what we had seen for the entire next week. And sure, there was a lot of head-scratching mess to peruse, but it’s fair to say that nobody knew what they were doing, just yet. Within a few years, music videos had become an art form, with some amazing videos that were far more entertaining than some full-length movies. That art got lost somewhere along the way….

      As for the photo, the “Cadillac Ranch” art installation IS a trip, plunked down in the middle of a dusty field outside Amarillo. There’s nothing around it, so you can’t help but notice this line of ass-up cars shoved in the ground. Of course we had to stop…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Do artists still even make music videos? That’s how out of touch I am, I thought MTV was dead and buried. As for the constant penis touching, I always assumed they were just making sure it was still there.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, they are still making videos. Well, I suppose I should say “attempting” to make a video, because so much of it is thoughtless crap now. Granted, we’ve always had a certain contingent of useless videos, all the way back to when MTV changed the music world, but MOST of the videos used to be at least minimally entertaining and interesting. Now it’s all just bling and posing and making sure the penis is still there…

      And yes, MTV is still kicking, though I haven’t perused the channel in decades. The network will turn 41 in August. Does that tidbit make you feel as old as it makes me feel? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • It depends on exactly which available position interests you. If you want to be “The Artist”, we’ll need certification from your therapist that you have delusions of grandeur. If you desire the scriptwriter angle, you’re already hired, as apparently no skills are necessary and you don’t have to pass any pesky tests. And if you feel a calling to be the small-toe worshipper, well, we need to talk… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was also a target demo when music videos first came out, as I was of high-school age, had a decent part-time job and therefore had some disposable income. And I’ll admit that I was infatuated with certain videos for a while. I was never a fan of the videos that were insipid (and many of them were), but there were some true artists creating actual art. (Off the top of my head: Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Kate Bush and, later, R.E.M. There are more, but my mind is rusty.) It’s not the same world now.

        No worries about the typos. I used to be horrified when I would discover I had made one in a post or comment that had been up for days. (The shame!) Now? I’ve learned to let it go. It happens, we move on… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Even the better made videos of songs, I sometimes don’t get the connection between the visuals and the lyrics. An example is the Backstreet Boys’ “Show me the meaning of being lonely”. When I heard the song first, I thought it was about love, breakup, heart break etc. And the video showed someone dying. It didn’t match in my mind.

    Even videos like that for the classic Beatles “While my guitar gently weeps” – the video is classy alright, but I don’t get the connection to the song.

    I think it needs a special form of creativity. Or at least psychedelic drugs to see connections like that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agreed, even some of the really professionally-produced videos don’t mesh with our personal visions of the song. But I’m okay with the deviation, as long as what the producers are doing makes sense as a video. It’s the mindless, rapid-firing of pointless images that annoy me. And yes, it does take a special form of creativity to get it right. And I have seen some really stunning videos over the years. Sadly, they are few and far between…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a certain line that can’t be crossed, as far as a few… ummmm… how to say…? Less than blessed by the Adonis gene…? Plainly unbeauteous…? Possessed of a mug only his/her mother could love? I recall seeing Dee Snider of Twisted Shitstorm or whatever group he was affronting showing his… um… ululating tonsils, in ‘We Don’t Wanna See Dee’ or some such song. No amount of filters and undulating unrestrained prancers panting over his leather trou could convince me he was anything but butt ugly.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m with you. We are all dealt different cards in life, and sometimes those cards are not so pretty, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The issue is when we’re expected to believe that someone who is not sexy is actually so sexy that legions of women and/or men would give up their dignity for the mere chance of worshipping at the altar of this unsexy person. No. Stop it. Choose another angle to sell your product…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post and these comments are hilarious. MTV? I thought that was a song they sung on Miami Vice.
    We never had cable until the two older ones went off to college. I was the one holding the tinfoil on the rabbit ears so somebody could watch the Duke game. Sigh. I was such a good wife.
    Even now, the television doesn’t come on until nighttime. Obviously I never watched MTV nor have I ever seen Saturday night live.
    To further my admission of my complete lack (or interest) in anything about cool things…I remember when this thing called “sound tracks” started being popular. (Be prepared to say “bless your heart”) I thought it was all the dialogue from the movie. I remember wondering why any anybody would want to buy what was essentially the words to a movie.
    I was such a sheltered creature. Help me…I’m stupid.
    Actually, I was busy raising four children…sort of on my own. 🤷‍♂️

    Liked by 4 people

    • We all have our own experiences. As a budding young gay man in Oklahoma, I considered myself much more worldly than my annoying relatives and the yammering hicks than ran around wretched Broken Arrow. But I didn’t know squat, until I was on my own and trying to make a living. THEN you learn what’s important. Sometimes I was aware of trendy things, other times I was much more invested in paying the electric bill and making sure my ass didn’t get evicted. Different journeys, different strategies, but hopefully we all eventually make it somewhere peaceful…


    • Um, you might not want to take another gander. A second read-through might reveal that this piece is not quite as funny as I think it is. Just be happy with your initial impression that it makes sense, and carry on… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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