This week, we looked at the development of the pop film alongside the wider development of realism within British cinema. Specifically, we looked at Nic Roeg’s ‘Performance’ (1970), and how music was used and represented within.
Whilst is was interesting looking at how music and film interact and add meaning to each other, I believe that case studies of the opposite intended effect should be analysed more within music academia. Specifically relating to music videos, it is interesting to analyse examples where the musical elements and film elements very rarely interact, and opine about why this is the case. I look to provide a brief example of such a case study, using a musicological and a thematic comparative analysis:
Musically, this song is relatively simple. It is what some might refer to as a conventional Don Broco song tweaked somewhat to incorporate a ‘dancier’ tone.
Of course, what defines a conventional Don Broco song? The band self-identify rather broadly as a rock band. Not that they aren’t, but their recent releases have seen a significant leaning towards elements of funk (signified by heavy use of bass slaps and high groove), pop (signified by the catchy choruses and the extremely heavy lyrical repetitions) and post-hardcore (signified by the dual vocalist line-up, the in-band shout and response chorus structures and heavier guitars).
‘Everybody’ begins with a reserved, stripped back version of the chorus leading into the main riff of the song and the verse. The way the lyrics are sung imply a sense of distress due to the strain on the vocals the high range and slightly-violent tone require. The lead singer’s voice throughout the song is considerably more reserved, although becomes more aggressive in the chorus and towards the end of the song. The drums and bass are both quite funky – there’s a definite intended dance effect the band have tried to convey; the minimal singing in the chorus also lends itself to this. Lyrically the song is too vague to get a true narrative, or even subject matter – at a guess I’d argue the song is about the band’s experiences within the music industry (references to festivals, record sales, vans). The lyrics in the final chorus have a violent or aggressive tone – repeating “It’s a killer” during the final chorus over the main riff. Overall, ‘Everybody’ produces vague but violent tones mixed with a sense of funk and dance.
From a visual perspective, the song is extremely peculiar. The narrative features a woman being captured by a cowboy, then brainwashed in a cult-like fashion to join him as a cowgirl using a strange dance whilst smiling maniacally. The dance is heavily featured and has become a staple of the band’s live show, spawning a tutorial video.
There are elements of New Romanticism here, solely due to the sheer eccentricity of the video. The band are dressed in a flamboyant manner (Albuquerque ties, hats etc.), the dance is juvenile yet contains sexual elements and the smile is very over-the-top. The video’s finale is also very flamboyant and excessive, with religious symbols being placed alongside a room of dancing cowboys in a funeral.
When looking to compare the audio and visual elements initially, very little seems to add up. Both have quite strong violent overtones, and both have a certain flamboyant swagger about them reminiscent of late 70s New Romanticism. There is little else the two share (outside of production techniques (primarily cuts) that synchronise with the beat of the music) in terms of theme, narrative or performance (the band never play in the video). So why have they been clashed here?
My opinion would be that with the band about to attempt to break America (having signed with Sharptone Records and releasing two songs from 2015 there), the band needed a way to keep in the British public’s conscious whilst they are away. The ‘Everybody Dance’ as it has been dubbed seems to have been an attempt to attain a measure of viral success due to the sheer oddity it is. A small European tour was also promoted in the wake of the video release, in which the band performed the dance when performing the song. I would argue that promotion was the main motive behind the audio/visual incoherence.