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Features |  31 May 2016 13:42 |  By RnMTeam

Breaking The Norm: Five music videos that have potentially set a trend

MUMBAI: Times have gone when songwriters, out of lack of options, passed 'any' pseudo-fancy material as a music video. Over the years, pop music has been a trendsetter for all the right and wrong reasons. The 90s demanded a lot of activities in the videos for better viewing pleasure. One of the reasons why the fans in the 90s spent considerable amount of time wondering why Madonna has her hands all over the male actors for a song that talks about heartbreak. Irrelevancy became a norm in the music videos. And Indians just loved to imitate what the west had to offer.

Music videos' qualities were defined on the basis of the 'quantity' that enhanced the beauty of the compositions even further. For example, 'Chaiyya Chaiyya' would not have been any lesser of an iconic track, but the choreography on a moving train - never attempted before, mind you - surpassed the beauty of the lyrical and sonic beauty of the composition. Even as we entered the second decade of the new millennium, mainstream creators have failed to 'let the imaginations fly'.

The year 2016 - so far - has provided fine examples proving that unique attempts at music video creations will be the future of the scene. For Bollywood, the composers and songwriters never had a say on the visuals, but the solo albums and singles do allow the creators (composers and directors) to arrive on the same page for a unified goal.

Take Kerala-based Thaikkudam Bridge for example. Not only did the band successfully experiment with its sound and style with the release of the new album 'Navarasam', the members went an extra mile with the
content on the video. For the single 'Aarachar' off the album, Thaikkudam Bridge shot a video, directed by Bollywood filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar. But the video does not make into the list, regardless of the larger-than-life vibe to it. And that, partly, comes down to the content of the video that the band released a couple of months later. 'Sultan' - another single off the album earned the scope of incorporating a video into it. Sung by Anish Krishnan, ‘Sultan’ speaks about the uprising of the dead against the unjust mighty superior. To incorporate live action into a graphic backdrop – a visual treat of course – but does create complications and opens the
door to minute flaws, as the Sultan’s case proves. Apart from the improperly infused backdrops, the video for ‘Sultan’ does become a remarkably executed artistic expression. The story line of the song stretches synonymous throughout the video, and the frame-by-frame flawless flow allows the visuals to convert into a story. The visuals provide a graphic novel vibe, seldom used in the Indian music videos.

Mumbai-based electronic solo project 'Your Chin', since the birth of the act, has emphasised on executing music videos in its truest unique forms. For his second EP's composition 'Who Would Have Thought', Your Chin sort of announced his plans to reach out to more audience through the focused importance on the music videos. Your Chin's sound is so breezy that the director/producer lets his music take control of the imaginations, as it happened with Misha Ghose - the director behind 'Who Would Have Thought' and the single from the latest EP, titled 'Fighting The Sumo'. The 'minimum-budget-maximum-outreach' approach
has worked for Your Chin so far. The video for the 'Fighting The Sumo' entirely created on Microsoft Powerpoint and Apple Keynote could be described as simple yet not underwhelming, but neither too subtle to miss the underlying message. With over 500 frames individually sewn together for the lyric video, Ghose offers a trippy visual experience through the animated style of storytelling.

The practice does not stay relevant only to the unsigned non-mainstream musicians. Rapper Divine has had his share of video efforts where the budget crossed the expectations, but the output did not. For the latest effort, Divine and Sony Music India shot a video on iPhone 6 for the single ‘Jungli Sher'. iPhone allowed the comfort of shooting across 43 locations spread all over Bombay and ensured the ease to capture people who would have been frightened by a big camera. The professional quality of the final video is simply stunning, and making use of the Moondog Labs anamorphic adapter formed the very aesthetic of the video. The video of the same has been entirely shot on the superlative iPhone 6s with 4K capturing ability, and the results on camera are phenomenal.

'Breaking the norm' cannot be achieved only with refreshing ideas via animated elements or extensive use of VFX and an iPhone. In Delhi-based Peter Cat Recording Co.'s scenario, the location won half the battle for the single 'I'm Home'. The four-piece outfit shot the video, partly, on The Great Wall of China, while the rest was recorded in the hometown. With a drone and an iPhone, and accurate use of the software, the video's budget did not even exceed five grand. Shot in two days, the software effectively transformed a usual generic 'indie'
music expression to a beautifully poetic experience. Music videos, like any other form of art, require an inspiration to translate the lyrical meaning into a visual experience. For the band's frontman Sawhney, the walk on one of the wonders of the world turned into an idea for a music video.

By the end of the last year, Mumbai-based Achint Thakkar released the video for the single 'Impression'. The concept for the video was born out of the need to experiment and push boundaries – to create high-level visual artistry rarely associated with pop music videos. Like the song ‘Impression’ which blends different sounds and genres, the video amalgamates varied visual techniques like light painting, stop motion animation and 3D CG imagery. This is the first time an Indian music video has used the Pixelstick - a light painting device
by Bitbanger Labs. Produced by Times Music in association with the VFX House Plexus Post, the music video for ‘Impression’ is a visual treat and a landmark music video in the Indian non-film music space.

Music videos can drive the sales to grow for the respective singles, eventually helping the unsigned/underground artist find rhythm on the ladder to fame. Not only with the sales, the videos do help the artist create an identity synonymous with a particular style of videos (Gotye, Ok Go, Jamiroquai). The emphasis on music videos, turning into a phenomenon in India, can gradually attract brands and the eventual result turns into a win-win situation for the brand and the artist involved.

The trends set through these music videos were not made for commercial reasons, but they do offer the music directors something to think about. With the financial strength and these new trends, the mainstream musicians and creators can really dig a goldmine.