Ever since I moved to Pittsburgh, I haven’t owned a TV, so thoughts of the music video had really escaped my mind until recently, when a few friends of mine were commissioned to make a music video for a local rapper. As they were experimental filmmakers, I was a bit surprised that the young rapper wanted them to make his video. They had green screens and crazy editing tricks, but as far as rental bling-bling, romping rear ends, and a mean-looking posse, there was not a whole lot they could offer.
When I voiced my concerns about this deficit of quintessential rapper paraphernalia, my friend made a solid point to me: No one cares about the music video anymore.
Most of us grew up in a time where after school we could plop on the couch, turn on MTV’s Total Request Live, and it seemed like one of the coolest things in the world. We were envious of the people in that Times Square studio that made hand contact with whomever the big guest was that day, and of course with that dreamboat of a host, Carson Daly. We liked how interactive it was, with people all across the country voting to see their favorite video. We got sad when our favorite videos went to the retirement home, and pissed off when the video we liked even more never made it out of the purgatory of being ranked 11th.
There was even a point at which the music video was so exciting that they started making TV shows about making music videos. Making the Music Video launched in 1999, and now almost 10 years later, you can hardly find a music video being broadcast on MTV.
What it comes down to is this: Video killed the radio star, and YouTube killed the music video. Before the Internet was always at your fingertips, you relished the opportunity to see it broadcast — the same way that before you could buy a single song from iTunes, you relished the chance to hear it on the radio. The excitement of anonymously voting your favorite band into TRL stardom doesn’t have half the glory of posting your own video response, heckling on the comments board, or spamming blogs with links to the video.
The music video has become so irrelevant that no one needs a $50,000 budget, 300 naked chicks, 10 choreographers, and two body doubles for it to be watched in households across the world anymore. As proven with OK Go’s 2006 YouTube video wonder “Here It Goes Again,” you can throw a bunch of household shit together, and make it interesting enough for someone to watch while they’re procrastinating from everything else they should be doing.