Music Genres

In this post I will explain the different genres of music and what kind of influence and effect (positive or negative) it can have on a generation, group or society. I think that by doing this, I will have a better understanding of just how powerful and influential music can be, and how different genres have different effects on people.

Pop music is probably the most broadcasted music thanks to the charts and mainstream radio stations like Capital, Kiss and Heart. These types of radio stations feature artists like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Calvin Harris and Ariana Grande. Pop artists are the most widely known worldwide and it’s fair to say that they have the most success as there music is for main-streamers.

The song that I’ve chosen for my music video is Joan of Arc by Jamie T, a song which is class as indie rock or alternative rock. I would definitely agree with this as the song is definitely not pop, rap etc. However I would say that the song is more indie rather than rock. Even though this is the genre that this song in particular falls into, this doesn’t necessarily mean that only indie or rock fans will listen to this song or the artist. An example of this is, me. I would class myself as more of a pop fan, someone who listens to the charts and wouldn’t really go out and buy a particularly ‘alternative’ or indie album, but I do like this song and other singles by the same artist.

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Theory

Narrative – the way those events are put together to be presented to an audience. All media texts have a narrative, whether they are a six hour TV miniseries or a one paragraph newspaper story or a glossy magazine photograph.

Representation – Who? What? Why? Where? Representation is about understanding the choices that are made when it comes to portraying something or someone in a mass media text. When representing a person, media texts often focus on their age, gender, ethnicity, job, culture/nationality and financial status.

Genre – a way of categorising a particular media text according to its content and style. Genre does not rely simply on what’s in a media text but also on the way it is put together. A media text is said to belong to a genre, as it adopts the codes and conventions of other texts in that genre, and lives up to the same expectations but texts from different mediums may belong to the same genre.

Audience – Every media text should have an audience, if not then there is no point going any further with it. All media texts are made with an audience in mind, ie a group of people who will receive it and make some sort of sense out of it. And generally, but not always, the producers make some money out of that audience.

I think my target audience is quite a broad one and so I believe I’ll be able to attract quite a few people from my music video. Whilst I was coming up with an appropriate target audience I took into consideration the various audience theories and models so that I would be able to attract the largest demographic possible through the making of my video.

One theory in particular that I took into consideration was the effects model also known as the hypodermic model which basically means that the consumption of media texts has an effect or influence over the audience, however this is usually a negative one. I don’t know if this is the case for the majority of music videos but I am hoping to construct mine in a way that doesn’t have a adverse effect of the audience. The effects model presents the audience as vulnerable and having no control over that influence thrust upon them.
Whilst this theory represents all audiences as powerless, another theory that opposes this is the uses and gratifications model. What this model says is that all audiences are active and instead of being powerless over media, consume it for their own pleasure and have control over it. The uses and gratifications model says that the power lies with the audience and not the producers. Audiences will decide if they enjoy, reject or apply particular media products, the choice is theirs and they are the only ones who can control this. Clearly this directly opposes the effects model but I looked at both of these theories when brainstorming ideas about my song and video.
One thing that the effects theory and the uses and gratification theory have in common is that they both have their limitations and because of this, another theory was bought forward called reception theory. The main thing that this theory stated was that all media texts or products have a hidden or specific message or meaning behind them. Reception theory stated that some audiences could fail to decode the hidden message behind the media product or in some cases reject the idea completely. Stuart Hall who was the theorist behind reception theory identified three types of audience decoding of texts which are; dominant, negotiated or oppositional. According to reception theory every single media text has to fall into one of these categories whether they are supported by the audience effectively decoded of rejected completely. At the moment I’m unsure whether I want my music video to portray a hidden meaning or message behind it but if I did, I would want my target audience to successfully decode what I’m trying to get my music video to say.

A History of Music Videos

Nowadays, more modern music videos are made primarily as a marketing device which is intended to promote the sale of the song. So much so that sometimes music videos actually launch the song or become bigger and more popular than the song itself. A few examples of this are Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, Anaconda by Nicki Minaj and Telephone by Lady Gaga. In these cases the music videos created a lot of buzz primarily because they featured nudity and/or a sexual nature. A lot of music videos are now made with a sex-angle about them purely because sex sells and can be controversial which makes people talk.

One video that made headlines over the past few years was Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, however this was no good publicity. The music video was highly controversial due to its use of full frontal nudity of young women and use of lyrics from interviews with convicted rapists. Being derogatory towards women is an incredibly controversial topic but yet is featured in a lot of music videos, one common pattern is in rap or hip-hop videos which often feature an array of scandily clad women usually dancing in seemingly provocative or suggestive ways.

Controversy and sex aren’t new aspects to be featured in music videos and since music videos have been made so has the controversy surrounding them. For example some of the most controversial music videos ever made are; Madonna’s Like a Prayer and The Prodigy Smack My Bitch Up. However music videos can  be controversial for a variety of reasons; drug, alcohol and sex aren’t the only things that draw attention to videos and lyrics of songs. For example, Beyoncé’s performance of her single ‘Formation’ at the American Super Bowl voicing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.

Music Video Styles

If I choose to do a music video for my project then there are three potential styles that I could model it around, these being; Performance, Narrative and Conceptual.

Performance – relies on the fact that you need a performer to ‘star’ in your music video, whether to act out a story-line that goes with the music or to mouth along to the words of the song. The majority of performance music videos do feature the artist of band who sings the song but a contradicting example of this is Sia – Chandelier as this is performance but doesn’t feature the artist herself. However this could also be argued as conceptual as well. I quite like the idea of all three of these styles at the moment as I think that all have the ability to broadcast something different through my final music video. Performance seems like the most commonly used one to me, as the majority of music videos that I’ve seen are based around the artist or even group of people performing the song.

Narrative – tells a story through the music video, it has to go somewhere and makes sense in order to work; this option does appeal to me as I like the idea of telling a story through a song but at the moment I’m unsure as to what kind of story I would want to tell. However, in my opinion, the style of performance usually goes hand in hand with a narrative style. This obviously isn’t the case for all but I find that a lot of time, during a performance styled music video, the piece usually goes somewhere, tells a short story or something changes throughout. In the vast majority of music videos, it goes somewhere in a way to keep the audience interested and engaged throughout the performance.

Conceptual -can be considered as far more ‘random’ than the other two styles of music video as a lot of the time it doesn’t have to make sense or even go anywhere. This  option does appeal to me because I like the idea of having a display of short videos that work with the song but not necessarily go after one another. It’s very possible that a music video can be a combination of any of the three styles of music video, for example ‘Just’ by Radiohead is a combination of all three and ‘No Doubt’ It’s my life is a mixture of narrative and performance. Can be considered as far more ‘random’ than the other two styles of music video as a lot the time it doesn’t have to make sense or even go anywhere.