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March 16th, 2005

Are Music Videos Dead?

I remember exactly where I was when MTV launched. I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ house with my sister next to me, and we were both inches from the screen. We watched in awe as the whole thing started – here was a new network that just played music all the time. Pretty remarkable stuff.

But as we all know, MTV barely shows music videos anymore. Neither does VH1, really. VH1 Classic still does… but not as consistently as MTV used to. I remember being impressed that I saw a video for Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio” on MTV2 / M2 when that was a video channel but, of course, they don’t really show videos that much anymore. It seems that either music videos are irrelevant now, or the artform – such as it is – is dead. Or maybe both.

As I type this, though, I’m watching a really great video for Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Fly From Heaven,” which is pretty old. But I’m watching it on my computer, and not on television. And I’ve seen a number of great videos. I mean, even “Thriller” was pretty badass for its day. With the evolution of music, I just wonder how relevant music videos are nowadays. When asked about the point of a video he was making, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills said rather bluntly, “To sell more records.” It’s true and it’s always been true, but it’s been nice to see some attempts at art come out through the video.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just not something that’s artful anymore. Almost everything that can be done in a video has been done, to the point where there are pretty standard formulas out there.

Do we need music videos anymore? Are they just a waste of money at this point, or do they still work for promotion?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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