Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Music Video Analysis - Key Concepts and Narrative

Key Concepts and Narrative

I am going to be analysing the music video for Trust in Me by the RnB quartet, Az-1. The single is from their self-titled album which was released in 1992 for Scotti Bros. Records.

The captive audience for this video in 1992 was most likely to be young black adults. During the time of the early nineties black music took on a new genre known as the New Jack Swing (NJS), which was very popular at the time. This was most likely due to well-known black artists such as Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown and MC Hammer whose music fit this category. Az-1 also produced a New Jack Swing sound; and although they were a short lived band, their song, Trust in Me along with its video was most approved of by the young black generation.

As you may have already noticed, the band has quite a street wise appearance. They wear hooded jackets, backwards caps and baggy trousers whilst singing in urban looking areas. The clothes they wear were of the typical fashion trends of the time and with three black members and one white member, this is another reason why black youths were probably highly influenced by this music video. The dance routines are in the style of hip hop and street dance which has always been popular amongst the black generation, having originated from the black ghettos in Harlem.
The song, Trust in Me is about a turbulent relationship between lead singer, Martin Kember and an anonymous woman who he delivers the song to. For example one of the lines is, “…all alone, pick up the phone and its you who’s calling, why do you keep contradicting yourself?” This 2nd person narrative continues throughout the whole song and although the lyrics are not in anyway original, it is the beat and the quality of voice that counts in the New Jack Swing genre.  

The troubled partnership that is suggested in the lyrics is also vaguely portrayed in the music video. We see short snippets of Kember and his partner’s story amongst the other shots of the singing and dancing. The narrative is linear, as it is shown in chronological order. At the start and during the video, we see clips that suggest the couple are having issues and then at the end, it is suggested that their issues have been resolved as we see the couple hug.

The video ends on a positive note between the couple. Perhaps this is a good message to the younger generation; being in love and relationships can be extremely difficult, yet if you work through the issues, problems can be resolved. If the video portrayed a negative ending for the couple, this may discourage the audience slightly. Of course we all know that bad relationships exist, but the makers of the video needed to consider their target audience and what kind of messages were best to portray to them.

This is the first shot of the music video and instantly we are being introduced to the story of the couple.

 We see a person enter into the shot from the right. At the moment, it is hard to tell what the gender of the person is as we can only see their arm and the side of the body. However whoever this character is, it is clear that they are angry as they purposely and aggressively knock over the wine bottle on the table.

 There is also something quite iconic about this shot as well. There are many music videos where the narrative is about a troubled relationship. Usually in these music videos there are shots shown of objects i.e. framed pictures of the couple, wine bottles etc being knocked over, thrown or broken by one of the characters. It is a typical scenario shown in music videos to portray anger or hate.

A few shots later, we now can identify this character as a woman. The wine bottle is rolling towards the edge of the table, yet the character does nothing to stop it implying just how angry she is. It is obvious that wine bottle will fall and smash however she stands in stillness with the least bit of care.

This shot is part of a sequence of jump cuts showing the lead singer, Martin Kember on his own being restless in bed. This sequence is shown at the point in the song where the lyrics say, “I can’t sleep, if you’re not close to me!” It has now become quite apparent that he is the man in the relationship and the woman at the beginning is his partner.

Once again we are seeing more iconography. A person alone in a double bed is usually used to suggest that they have been through/or going through a bad relationship as they do not have a partner there, sharing the bed with them.

This quick shot is one of the first times we see the couple together in the video and we get the impression that they have just had an argument. Their backs are turned to each other and their heads are down and they are clearly not speaking to one another. It is also made apparent that neither is going to make the effort to fix whatever is happening between them.

 Similar shots to this one are shown in between the shots of singing and dancing. Several times we see the couple in a similar position to this.

This is the very last shot of the video. In a tracking shot we see the couple kiss and hug suggesting that they have made up and the tension that was suggested between them has now gone.

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