Camroy Peters is Managing Director of FrosTMedia Digital, a forward production, design and entertainment company disrupting the heart of the entertainment world. Foremost a filmmaker and music producer, he has created work with the likes of Annaliese Dayes, Cal Strange, Robert Swain Jr. and more.
In this short article, Camroy identifies themes where creativity and narrative is excelling in music videos: global phenomenon, artist identity, and innovation with technology. These points are illustrated through a wide variety of genres, including videos from Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and FKA Twigs. If you love music videos and want to know where things are going, this is the place to start.
However we choose to view them, music videos remain an incredibly powerful medium capable of striking up a global conversation in minutes. The biggest videos trend across social platforms, sparking news, comments and parodies while they rack up millions of views and ignite real life chatter among peers, making them compulsive viewing.
More immediate than films and television, and with greater freedom than adverts, music videos harness quickly emergent technologies and can respond to events on any scale, global or local. Whether they aim to make an impression through artistry, innovation or provocation; they allow musicians and filmmakers to experiment like no other medium available.
Remember This? — Watch SNL's Sketch 'The Day Beyoncé Turned Black'
In a highly charged sociopolitical climate where tragedy continued to strike throughout African American culture many artists rose to display cultural pride. Of the most prominent figures, Beyoncé dropped Formation, proudly taking charge of the conversation around her heritage as well as current and historical racial tension in the USA.
Beyoncé's Formation video is a perfect example of music video as a global phenomenon. Kicking off the year and grabbing the world's attention, it topped billboards and Twitter Trending 140 charts almost instantly, faster than Kanye at a Taylor Swift speech.
Beyoncé performs against a backdrop of thought-provoking, cinematic, and beautifully designed set pieces captured on various video formats. Whilst only a handful of artists can command the internet in this way, 2016 has set up a vintage year for sociopolitical music videos. Other artists joining her on the stand have been, Kendrick Lamar (Alright), Jay Z (Spiritual), Ab-Soul (Huey Knew), Common x John Legend (Glory), Macklemore x Ryan Lewis ft. Jamila Woods (White Privilege II), J. Cole (Be Free), T.I. (We Will Not) and many more. We will most likely see this continue throughout 2017.
Watch Beyoncé's Formation video
Noting another promising trend to continue throughout 2017 is the visual enhancement of world culture; tribal environments, subculture influences and bright, confident, happy, uplifting colours. What better reason to travel than to experience a culture that peaks curiosity or allures to desire. Artists such as Rihanna, Drake and Coldplay really pressed this aspect.
Talk about Work — Watch Rihanna ft. Drake's Work
The first half of this 2 part music video visualised by Director X really throws attribute to Rihanna's Caribbean heritage, along with Caribbean dance swagger and vibes. Aside from the massive dash of sex appeal and twerking Rihanna brings to the video, the popularity and influence of Caribbean culture has only been bolstered, boasting a reach of 750+ million views on Youtube. With further Caribbean music elements and artists being a common occurrence throughout the art of music videos on a global scale, it will only continue to grow further throughout the next year and others to come.
Of course, she does not stand alone promoting the cultural Caribbean flare, with branding mogul DJ Khaled (Nas Album Done) and Drake (Controlla), Similarly, other cultural trends consistently noticeable are Coldplay (Hymn For The Weekend) presenting Indian culture and Jamie xx (Gosh) with Chinese culture.
Watch Coldplay Hymn For The Weekend video
Adding further, one of the more blending combinations between filmmaker and music artist is the creation of long-form music videos. This art has been a trend whether an artist has more to say, showcase, or illustrate a complex narrative or even more dynamically than that, create an elaborate promotion strategy. This by far has been my most favourite trend within music videos, as this method of expression often times rose and fell in frequency of prominence.
Long form music videos or alternatively known as 'music films' were truly redefined in 2015 with Pharrell Williams' 'Happy', which ran a full 24 hour visual spin being the worlds first 24 hour music video. It was beyond doubt among others, a global phenomenon.
In a way that is remarkable, since the coining of 2016 as 'The year of the Lyricist' in the music industry, there was also a proportionate growth in narrative stories alongside it. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar opened the year boldly with 'God is Gangsta', which tied symbiotically to his poetic performance and creative work.
Watch Kendrick Lamar's God Is Gangsta video
As a major influence among his peers in the industry and general audience and fans, it is hard to say the exact effect it has had, or even if this was coming all along with or without the artist, nevertheless, other artists preferring the performance of the art form more frequently than most setting a continued trend into 2017 are FKA Twigs (M3LL155X), Vince Staples (Prima Donna), Schoolboy Q (Tookie Knows II: Part 2), Common (Black America Again), Rihanna (Bitch Better Have My Money) and many more.
Watch Vince Staples' Primia Dona
Watch U2's Every Breaking Wave
Of course not to mention the continued rise of 360 degree and first person videos taking on narrative possibilities leveraging the wow-factor with new technologies. We're showed how effective new technology can be in strengthening fans' connection to an artist, such as Logic (Under Pressure), The Weeknd (False Alarm), Björk (Stonemilker), Dawn (Not Above That), Seven (No), Redfoo (Booty Man).
Whatever the gimmick, the ones that make the most impact will always be those that work with artist's identity. There are thousands of videos made annually with less than a fraction of the budget of those mentioned above, as the medium is also still a crucial gateway to a career in filmmaking.
Music videos provide (at times uncertain) adventure playground for young directors; providing an opportunity to grab the attention of agencies as well as fans. It's these massive efforts to make an impression through eye-catching visuals for artists across all genres at every level, which deserve to be recognised here. It's exciting and terrific that FrosTMedia Digital operates in this dynamic, so we really can't wait to get started when you come to us.