By March 17th 2017, the Lady Gaga music video Telephone, a collaboration with Beyonce, has been viewed 275,237,839 times on YouTube. It’s a tremendous number even in today’s digital world, where users can easily access to. The time has gone when viewers didn’t have many choices but limited cable television channels.
With platform shifted to internet, the music videos themselves became different. Let’s still take Telephone for example. Before digital era, narrative videos such as Human League’s Don’t You Want Me or A-Ha’s Take on Me gives a complete story at least and they don’t leave viewers many confusing segments. While in Telephone, one obvious characteristic is its fragmented narrative. You have no idea of some scenes like when Gaga wearing that leopard print and shimmying in front of the Jeep at night or when Beyonce wearing Sergeant Pepper’s military dress in her hotel room, hopping up and down as if she were a windup doll. These make no sense, which appeals to the internet users. They don’t ask for a linear story any more. What they need is constant stimulus from the sound and image.
It can also be seen from some details that these days music videos are “not designed to be shown on television”. (Diane, Paul and Watson, 144) Some bizarre moments are too short to capture like when Gaga smiled and gave a “OK” gesture to the camera, or the weird face she made when dancing in the kitchen, not to mention the end credits rolling in an absolutely abnormal speed. All of these are designed to encourage audience to pause and rewatch the video, which can only be done on screen in the digital age.
As video didn’t kill the radio star, the internet didn’t kill the video star. They have already found their own way to survive.
Railton, D. and Watson, P. (2011). Music Video and the Politics of Representation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.