Music Videos: The World of Covers


Now I know I haven’t written anything since new years so excuse my abruptness but I just encountered a video quite late in the day, AKA: 11:50pm, that I wanted to talk about.  I spent most of my day working and writing, and as I did so I listened to music. A lot of that music was cover songs of other various popular albums. Why? Well I like that spin on them, plus you don’t have to sit through an obnoxious advert on YouTube to listen to the music video in question. However when I was justifying why I listen to cover songs I began questioning why I was even on YouTube for my music… I mean there are thousands of dedicated platforms for new artists all over the internet, yet I find myself ultimately drawn to YouTube. Then I realised why… It’s the video. 

Experiencing a cover in a vacuum away from a human face makes you lose the worth of the person performing. You see a cover is different from the original because the person signing is not doing it for money but purely for passion, and that passion is muted without video. Without that visual element to the music you’d never see the dusty bedrooms, the sneering concentration on the faces of singers as the fumble for lyrics in their heads, or the worn instruments they pluck. I know it sounds hubristic and ultimately romantic but it’s true. You can even see the extremely fast progression of this new genre. We’ve moved from webcams to dedicated film cameras, with correctly composed shots.

I’ll offer two videos for an example:

The first is a cover made in 2010, (Jesus can you believe that was four years ago?) where in very little happens.

Sure it’s simple, and certainly not the focus of the content, but that doesn’t mean that no appreciation can be had from the video. Without it we’d never see that concentration, that drive. There’s a force that leaves the artist stuck, stoically staring at the ground, hunched over their guitar. We’d never know that this song wasn’t recorded in a studio, we’d never know that someone sang on the floor in the bedroom. That’s what video offers to music, that’s what, in my opinion, has helped the development and popularity of covers. It’s raw and unadulterated people, not highly refined and polished celebrities. In short, it’s just ruddy endearing.

This second video was made in 2012 by the same person: 

It clearly has style, heck it even has skill behind it. I’m not even sure that I could be so graceful and quick with a focus pull. It’s a huge change from the webcam video, it’s got movement, changing focus and even visual effects. Unless they really did shoot on black and white film, something I highly doubt….

Yet it’s still effectual. How you ask? Well two words, continuous shot, it never breaks or cuts, or at least I didn’t notice it doing so when I watched it at midnight high on diet coke and chocolate jelly beans. So why does the continuous shot mean anything? Well It lets us know it was one take, the room might have changed, the style and production values certainly have, but there’s still that gorilla edge to it. It’s not a visual gag, or a cheap ploy to up view counts. It’s film that’s shot in a complementary style to the music, understated, raw and unedited (minus the aforementioned black and white filter). It’s the right treatment for music in videos, not flashy sex stuff or stupid effects.

Anyway that’s my brief analysis into music videos, hope you enjoyed. Oh and Remember that it’s all thanks to the democratization of video distribution this, well genre was birthed. Otherwise we’d never experience anything of the like.