Atwood Magazine’s Viewfinder column revolves around music videos, and how a piece of music is synergistically enhanced by well-produced visuals.
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In the era of YouTube and viral internet videos, artists increasingly harness the power of music videos to draw attention to their music. Music videos regularly land on the trending page of YouTube, with the most popular garnering millions of views in a matter of days. A handful of videos even end up breaking records for most views in a day, eventually transcending the medium to become pop culture talking points or global phenomena.
In today’s hyper-saturated music market, it’s almost a given that artists release a music video accompanying the first single off their album to generate buzz. This is especially true if the artist is gearing up for a highly-anticipated sophomore release. What better way to announce your return than by releasing a huge pop song accompanied by well-produced visuals?
For examples of this strategy, you don’t need to look any further than Troye Sivan, who released “My My My!” in January in anticipation of his second LP due this year, and Lorde who released “Green Light” in March 2017 before dropping Melodrama in June of that year.
The music videos for “My My My!” and “Green Light” were both directed by Grant Singer. Singer is no stranger to directing music videos. His credits include Ariana Grande’s “Let Me Love You,” Zayn and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” Lorde’s “Perfect Places,” as well as several videos for The Weeknd, including “Starboy.”
In an interview with Billboard, Singer describes how he got his start, saying, “I had friends in up-and-coming bands, and there was this natural progression from creating visuals that accompanied their music to directing their music videos… I fell in love with the process of constructing images to music.” Singer further details his process in an interview with Pitchfork, stating, “Making a video is sort of like… I would actually describe it similarly to writing a song… It’s very collaborative.”
Singer’s collaborative approach has clearly resonated with the artists that he’s worked with, many of whom have gushed about their projects and creative relationship with the director. With plenty of clickbait and gimmicky videos floating around online, it is refreshing to see artists collaborating with directors that take the time to create visuals that go beyond getting a famous cameo in the video or capitalizing on a viral trend.
Having made a name for himself as a vlogger on YouTube and as an actor in several films, it’s easy to see why Troye Sivan would place so much emphasis on the visuals for his music. For the release of his debut album Blue Neighbourhood, Sivan released three interconnected videos for the tracks “WILD,” “FOOLS,” and “TALK ME DOWN,” and stitched all three into the “Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy.”
Though simple in concept, the music video for “My My My!” is electric. Shot mostly in black and white, it focuses on Sivan’s dancing and passionate singing as he struts about an abandoned warehouse. With the dramatic lighting and copious use of a wind machine, the video seemingly references Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking music videos. On the whole, the video is a mature departure from Sivan’s previous output.
Watch: “My My My” – Troye Sivan
Lorde was relatively quiet in the intervening years between her first and second albums, leaving fans hungry for new material. Much like “My My My!”, the release of “Green Light” instantly piqued the interest of fans and music blogs alike.
The “Green Light” video mirrors the dynamics of the track to a T. It starts off with Lorde singing over sparse piano chords while staring at her reflection in a bathroom, before transitioning to shots of her dancing in a club as the first traces of percussion kick in. When the pre-chorus begins, the scene shifts completely, and Lorde escapes the confines of the club before getting into a car and dancing down empty streets.
In his interview with Pitchfork, Grant Singer describes his decision to shoot the “Green Light” video on 16mm film, saying, “To me, 16mm film has a thickness to it, and it feels timeless to me. And that was really important: to not make it feel like a video made in 2017, but to me the quality of the film, the music video itself feels more timely, and that was definitely intentional, at least on my part.”
Watch: “Green Light” – Lorde
Both videos share a slew of similarities. They’re both largely solitary affairs, with the camera tracking the artist’s every move. The videos also feature slightly abandoned locations and were shot near or in Los Angeles, lending the visuals an urban atmosphere.
Though the subject matters of the two tracks are polar opposites, both videos feel euphoric, with the visuals heightening the anthemic choruses. Sivan and Lorde seem completely lost in the music, dancing as if no one else was watching. The videos tap into the natural charisma of both artists, and their performances feel like a celebration of youth and all that it entails. All in all, the two videos are proof that with a couple more years of experience under their belts, Troye Sivan and Lorde are back and more confident than ever.
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