I remember when I was in middle or high school, when my father used to put my clothes on a radiator during winter mornings to make them warm up and turn on the tv on Mtv. I loved music videos, I loved to “watch songs” hoping my favorite went on the air. I grew up and there were no more music video in the morning, I started to watch the Smurfs again. Mtv has started to air more and more films, comedy, talk shows etc, the music was not to watch anymore, you hear it on the radio or download from itunes and even just say “hey have you seen the video of that song?” makes me feel old. No one invests in music videos anymore, they lost their commercial and iconographic value and reamain only sporadically in youtube meanders. The concept of the music video is, if not buried, at least on the way of cremation.
Over the years we have seen coming out pop musicals like The Wall or Purple Rain, the Spice Girls have made a movie and One Direction two, we have seen the concerts of our favorite stars projected in theaters around the world, but everything always seems more like a poor attempt to give eyes to ears. Music movies are never really taken that seriously.
Since a few years now, the music pushes into new frontiers with visual album (a term coined by Animal Collective in 2010 with their ODDSAC). The last to make us talk about it was obviously the USA’s Queen, Beyonce’, who once again made her marketing department work amazingly.
Although visual albums are not only an effective and powerful marketing tool, rather they are a form of art that allows the musician to express himself in a more complete way, giving a visual aspect to his music from which it can not step aside and then giving the opportunity to the public of a total immersion. No movies, no music videos and no musicals, the visual album is a hybrid expression of the creativity of a musician. Someone is still struggling to figure it out, maybe we just need to get used to the terminology after all, as always happens. When something has a specific name is accepted more easily. And so that maybe visual albums seem to be the right balance for our time. We just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I light a candle for the two milk cartons from Blur’s “Coffee and TV”. Children of 90’s will understand me.