Class meeting #6 – YouTube and the music video – Monday 10/8


Link to Vernallis (2010)

Link to Harper (2016) if you are having trouble getting access through the library


Write a short (150-200 word) response describing a YouTube video of your choice with a significant musical/audio component (e.g. a music video), focusing on how the disposition of your chosen video on that particular platform changes how you might experience the same video if viewed elsewhere (e.g. on a television screen, on the cinema screen, as a download…). In your answer, you can consider any aspect of the platform: the use of video compression, the commenting system, recommended videos, pre-roll ads etc.


Links to Internet Archive/Wayback Machine snapshots of Beyoncé user page and YouTube video (c. December 18, 2009)

6 thoughts on “Class meeting #6 – YouTube and the music video – Monday 10/8

  1. lnl2110

    I chose this video because I thought this genre of music video would be an interesting choice for discussion. This video is the first one that shows up for the song by Lykke Li “I follow rivers,” even though it is not an official music video or created by anyone affiliated with the artist. Instead, the video includes clips from a movie that the song was featured in, Blue is the Warmest Color. In the film, the song plays when the main character, Adele, dances alone at a party, in a meditative moment in a time period where her relationship with Emma is in a rough spot. The video clips focus on Adele’s perspective, but also on defining moments of her relationship with Emma. This music video fits into a genre of movie or film edits created by fans for fans, often focusing on tracing the relationship between two characters. The fact that this video was the first recommendation also shows that this song’s meaning for many people is its place in the film, and what it says about the relationship between these characters, and because this movie is such a marker of a “lesbian movie,” this video also relates the song’s meaning to the idea of “lesbians.”

  2. erc2175

    Since I am myself, I have to choose a super-niche parody video about roller coasters. Here’s a link:

    The creator of this video, XYZcoaster, enjoys a relatively small following of viewers (with about 2400 subscribers) who religiously view videos as they come out, usually fairly infrequently. The projects he posts are ambitious but tongue-in-cheek, often poking fun of aspects of the theme park industry and roller coaster enthusiast community only dedicated insiders would be aware of. They also maintain a canon of inside jokes across videos – poorly-rendered pumpkins (visible in this video at the beginning on the beach, and later, riding go-karts amongst the skyscrapers), dubbed “pumkins,” a recreation of the toll booths at Kings Island, a particular theme park, and an equally poorly-rendered smashed brick wall that his parody rides travel through.

    Of course, music also features prominently in the videos, and here, the music is one of the principal “jokes” of the video. At the beginning, a cinematic shot of the parody and the landscape in which it’s set is set to Grieg’s “Morning Mood” – a musical setting which encourages appreciation of the beauty of the setting and the sky, and which climaxes as the trains gracefully crest a high point in the ride’s track. Of course, all this exists in conflict with the poorly-rendered buildings and pumpkins strewn around – the viewer is encouraged to absorb the landscape as a whole, but is rendered unable to do so by a surplus of visual gags that continue to distract. The social context of the video – a roller coaster recreation on YouTube – also provides a reading by which the video is critical of other exaggeratedly “cinematic” roller coaster creations, where XYZcoaster simultaneously recreates this through the detailed reflection in the water and undercuts it with the over-the-top (and historical) musical selection, among other barely-visible jokes.

    The video continues after this, but I think I’ve reached my 200 a while back. Perhaps this video and others like it would be worth further exploration, because I could write for a long while about this.

  3. clj2142

    When viewing the music video for “Nobody” by Mitski on YouTube, viewers have the option to watch the video in a small box in the upper left hand corner, a larger box that extends to each side of your browser, or to watch the video full screen. Whereas displaying the video in a theater would draw as much of the viewers attention as possible, YouTube allows viewers to choose their level of involvement in the video by choosing either full screen, theater mode, or the default smaller view. The full screen layout prevents viewers from viewing the video up next, recommended videos, comments, ads, and the video description. The larger box, or “theater mode,” displays all of these things, though they are all positioned underneath the video so the viewer would have to scroll down to fully see them. In the small box layout, or “default view,” the video up next and recommended videos are positioned to the right of the box, more or less forcing them into your line of sight.

    The default view almost encourages viewers to not pay attention to the content of the video, with the description and recommended videos all in plain sight, and the comments section just a short scroll away. Many of the comments are jokes about the video or song, which lighten the mood of the song and video, which, despite being upbeat and colorful, evoke confusion and desperation.

    There’s also an option to view the video in “miniplayer,” where one can browse the full YouTube site with the video playing in a tiny box in the lower right hand corner of the page.

    It makes sense that YouTube would encourage viewers to stray from the video itself, since the site generates its revenue from in-site ads. Artists benefit as well – the description of the video includes a link to purchase Mitski’s newest album, and below the description are information about her upcoming tour as well as links to buy tickets. Whether or not this takes away from the integrity of the video itself, it is a necessary evil for both YouTube and Mitski’s artistic career to continue to survive.

  4. spn2120

    In this recording of a live, but intimate performance, Steve Lacy (the guitarist for hip hop band The Internet) performs an acoustic version of “Dark Red,” one of his songs from a recently released EP. This video stands out to me, because while I loved the song when I heard the EP version, I fell in love with the rawness of this video: the way that these really famous musicians are just hanging around each other, the way that Steve Lacy riffs at the beginning of the video. It’s about the music, not performance. I mostly watch this video on my phone, mainly because I’m always listening to music via my phone, but this is the only piece of music that I use Youtube to access. I seem to value it more because I stumbled on it by chance, but as I reflect on my listening history of the past few months, I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time replaying this video over and over again. I can’t imagine watching it in any other medium, such as a cinema or projected screen. When I watch it on my phone, I feel as if I am in the room, and am a part of the hip hop groupie, witnessing this performance.

  5. yh2825

    The music video I’m discussing is ‘WeChat’ by Higher Brothers ( Higher Brothers is a Hip Hop music group from China that has gained attention within the past few years through its cosigning with 88rising, the label/brand that specifically that mostly promotes Asian artists in the west.

    There are two major aspects regarding the disposition of the music video that is worth mentioning. The music video – unlike most MVs out there on YouTube which are horizontal – sits vertically which perfectly fits into the frame of a iPhone 7. It is a huge difference here, as admittedly a vertical video shrinks the amount of elements that could be presented at the same time – for ‘WeChat’, there is almost no deliberate layout of the scenes, and in fact, through watching the video one would realize that the majority of the music video is most likely shoot by the artists in Higher Brothers with the front camera on their phones, by themselves. However, it is really what makes this music video creative in the first place, and we can understood the message delivered by the artists: we don’t necessarily need aesthetically well designed music video to become viral. The music video is direct and disruptive as if the audience is watching their performance through FaceTime; as a result, it bridges the gap between the group and the audiences.

    Another major disposition of the MV is in the title of the song, WeChat. WeChat is a social app that is almost a necessity for people in China – think of it as Messenger and FB/Instagram feed combined. The WeChat game became different as the Higher Brothers became famous, as what’s written in the hook of the song, translated in English: “I’m not opening my WeChat to see you talking nonsense.” To incorporate this message into the music video, the video producer spent great effort. The video begins with many WeChat notifications coming into the phone, and as the app was opened, the music video formally begins as the artists start to rap. Elements of “WeChat experience” penetrates throughout the MV as the artists are recording their video – WeChat banner notifications of “Wack Labels” trying to contact Higher Brothers, message screenshots of talking to girls, and video chatting with the other featured Korean artist, Keith Ape, on the song. While bringing all the “WeChat social experience” to the audience, it also solves another issue with the song – Higher Brothers usually either raps in Mandarin or Sichuanese, which most westerners would not be able to understand. However, the notifications and messages are all written in English, which naturally grabs the attention of the audience as if they were using their own phones – think about how popped up banner notifications grab our attention. Therefore, western audiences would still be able to easily understood the gist of the song and the music video. The following reaction video would help to prove the point – every time a “notification” shows up, the reactor starts to look closely to the screen to read the message:

  6. ijg2112

    A-Trak – DJs Gotta Dance More ft. Todd Terry

    I could watch this music video on Instagram, Twitter, Apple Music or off of a DVD or flash drive if I really wanted to, but when searching for this music video, I specifically chose to use YouTube. This platform is familiar and convenient; the process of getting to my video of choice is mindless and it makes the entire experience stress-free. While other platforms such as Instagram require the user to periodically swipe because the video must be split into clips, YouTube only asks for the click of a mouse. Because YouTube is also a social media site, it allows for interactions and the forming of the connections that would be impossible if just viewing the video on a DVD or flash drive. This is probably my favorite part of YouTube even though it is not unique to this platform. I can find comments from fans who truly appreciate the music in the video, and I will often find links to other videos of a similar type of music. Sometimes these recs will be even better than the YouTube sidebar because another human probably knows better than a machine learning algorithm. YouTube is my method of choice for viewing a music video because it combines the best attributes of multiple viewing platforms into one to provide a quality experience.

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