Let’s get Musical…

I was fascinated by the impact that the underscore had alone on the last piece I analysed, so this time I’ve decided to analyse a music video with a narrative, where the emphasis is obviously on the music used. This will also come in handy because a ‘short narrative set to music’ is an acceptable loophole in our specification.

The music video I have chosen is ‘Love How It Hurts’ by Scouting for Girls. A recently released piece, I chose it as it is also very simplistic. Should I decide to replicate any elements in it, it would probably be very easy, given that most of the video takes place in a school and in a field, both of which are very easy to come across! However, my main reason for anlaysing this piece is to discover the impact of sound and music on the narrative, and how it compliments not only other aspects such as cinematography, editing and mise-en-scene but how it helps the production emphasise it’s message as well as emotions, feelings and thoughts of characters.

Scouting for Girls

The single cover for 'Love How It Hurts'

Due to touring, the band was not present to make a video, so their production company, Sony Music UK, made this one without consulting the band. This explains their absence in the video. Instead, the video chooses to focus on a love triangle between a ‘geeky boy’, a ‘pretty girl’ and a ‘cool bad boy’, which starts in school and continues until they are adults. The video ends with the pretty girl having to decide between the two, a decision which the audience does not get to see.

Sound

I thought I’d analyse Sound first, as this is the element to which all other will be compared:

  • Scouting For Girls formed in 2005, when British popular music began to focus on indie and rock genres. This song incorporates some of these features, such as an emphasis on acoustic drums and piano. There is a lack of synthesised sounds, and the few that are used imitate piano sounds. The song’s rhythm is generally lead by the vocals, which are its most prominent feature, and there is no to little evidence of a Wall of Sound technique
  • The musical narrative is directly proportionate to the visual one. By musical narrative, I mean the way in which the song develops and ideas of sound and music and built and expressed. Here are the stages in which both narratives are introduced, developed and complemented: This analysis is broken down into the Visual Narrative and Musical Narrative
  1. Little is happening in the establishing shot. The geeky boy is simply watching the girl in what appears to be slow motion and there is little action going on in the scene. The intro is very simplistic, focusing mainly on the vocals and lyrics. This is so the ideas and themes of the narratives can be easily introduced
  2. This is where the audience’s attention is mostly shifted, as they must understand the creation of the love triangle. This is where the basis of the visual narrative begins, so the basis of the musical begins too, with percussion instruments being introduced and the rhythm too.
  3. Each chorus acts as a climax in the narrative. The first chorus introduces a cheery hook to the song, just while the geeky boy is happy and hopeful, emphasised by the increase of sunlight in his room.
  4. Once again, the music returns to its verse state, when the audience’s attention should be upon the on-screen action. The on-screen action focuses upon the events which break the geeky boys heart as a child, the cool boy destroying his cassette tape and the girl choosing the latter over the former.
  5. The next climax/chorus is more intense, with the piano hook becoming more prominent. Again, the focus is supposed to be upon the on-screen action. The second climax takes the form of a montage. This quickens the pace of the narrative and moves it into its second stage, the second time period. This means that both narrative increase in intensity, with each type of narrative complementing each other.
  6. The chorus changes to a bridge, which contains little musical composition other than the piano, this shows that the audience’s attention should be on the on-screen action.  This bridge again returns to using a slow-motion effect, so that the romantic actions by the geeky boy are highlighted.
  7. The third and final climax is similar to the second, except it ends with the repetition of the title ‘Love How it Hurts’. This is where both narratives climax at the same time, and audience’s attention should be on both sound and action. The action involves the proposal, in which the cool boy makes the decision, seemingly ending the narrative
  8. The outro for both narratives slows right down. In the case of the music, it is similar to the intro, where only vocals and piano are the focus. They are slightly melancholic, reflective of the on-screen action. There is very little on-screen action, so that the audience’s attention is upon the girl making her decision.

Sound is used to other effects as well:

  • Some lyrics coincide with the action on screen, for example, ‘I’d have run to the ends of the earth’, when the geeky boy is running. Also ‘wrecked’ and ‘break’, whilst the cool boy is breaking the cassette tape. A basic feature of the music video is that it focuses upon the action described in the song. With these simple incorporations, the video both presents a narrative and works as a standard music video
  • There is little use of sound effects, however, they can be found during the bridge, namely a siren. This is reflective of the haste and panic in the narrative at this time.

Cinematography

The cinematography of this piece remains largely the same throughout, and is used only to few effects, the main one perhaps being characterisation:

  • The cinematography is used for introducing characters and their respective roles in Propp’s character theory. For example, the geeky boy, the main character and the protagonist is first seen in a close-up. This is so the audience is fully aware of his features and character. He fills the role of the hero. In this shot, the boy is staring at the girl, so the close-up makes the boy’s love instantly obvious to the audience. As for the girl, she is first presented in an over-the-shoulder shot. It is over the boy’s shoulder, meaning that we are and will see her from his perspective. She is also presented in the background. This shows that she is distant and unobtainable. This means she clearly fills the role of the heroine. The cool boy is presented in a mid-shot. The geeky boy and girl are sitting down in this shot, whilst the cool boy is standing, showing his authority. He is also presented between the other two characters, showing that he will disrupt any love that blossom between them. He fills the roles of the villain and the disruption of the equilibrium.

The close-up that introduces the geeky boy

The over-the-shoulder shot that introduces the girl

The mid-shot that introduces the cool boy

  • From this point on, each characters roles, actions and personalities are emphasised by cinematography. For example, the geeky boy is presented in wide shots more than any other shot type. This is reflective of his feelings of smallness and loneliness. As for the girl, she is quite the opposite, and is more often than not presented in close shots. This is because her feelings towards each boy at any one time is essential to the plotline, therefore the audience must always be aware of her feelings, which can be most easily deciphered by her expressions and actions, hence the close focus on her. As for the cool boy, the cinematography changes so that he is almost always presented in a negative light. For example, the aforementioned shot where he is presented as getting between the two of them. Other examples include a close –up on his destroying of the cassette and his throwing away of the engagement ring. This is because the audience is expected to be on the geeky boy’s side of the binary opposition, and a focus on the actions of the cool boy will fuel this support.

The geeky boy is often presented in wide shots...

... whilst the girl is often presented in closer shots

The cinematography focuses on the cool boy's negative actions

  • When the characters are re-introduced as adults, cinematography is used to present a shift in power between the characters. For example, the introductory shot of the grown up geeky boy is a high-angled shot, as are many other shots of him from this point on. Whereas the introductory shot of the grown up cool boy is a low angled shot. This shows that the geeky boy now has authority, most likely due to the close friendship he has with the girl, as shown in the montage.

The HAS that introduces the adult geeky boy

The LAS that introduces the adult cool boy

However, cinematography is used to other effects also:

  • When the geeky boy gives the girl the tape, the shot pans right. This excludes the geeky boy from the shot and includes the cool boy, making the latter and the girl the focus of the shot, emphasising the current situation
  • After the geeky boy has bought the ring, he is presented in many long shots and very long shot running toward the girl. This emphasises the literal lengths we would go to for her

Mise-En-Scene

This is possibly the simplest aspect of this piece. It is one of the reasons as to why the continuity is so easy to follow.

  • Location. The location remains roughly the same throughout the piece. Judging by the houses, streets, school and cliffs, the entire piece is set in an average seaside town. This probably to make the video more realistic and relatable. The only dramatic changes in location are during the montage and the clifftop. A lot of other aspects such as shot length and speed change during the montage. This is probably so the audience’s attention is retained, and changing the location is another way to capture audience attention. The reason for the clifftop is probably because it is a romantic setting, and romance is the most important theme at this point in the narrative. The location of the boy’s bedroom gives the audience a clue as to the first time period. Judging by the making of a cassette tape, a  Frisbee, an E.T. lunchbox, a lava lamp and classic headphones, presumably the first time period is set in the 1970s.

    This shot shows the typical elements of the seaside town

    The geeky boy's bedroom, giving the audience a clue as to the 1970s time period

  • Costumes.An interesting aspect of this piece is that even though all the characters grow up, their costumes do not change. Although the primary reason for this is probably comedy, it has other effects too. For example, it is reflective of the fact that the relationship situation between the three characters also has not changed. Furthermore, the costumes are reflective of each character’s main personality trait. For example, the geeky boy’s costume is used to emphasise his ‘geekiness’, whilst the cool boy’s denim ensemble would have been considered ‘cool’ in the 1970s. The girl’s outfit can largely be decoded by colour. For example, her blonde hair and yellow cardigan make yellow the most dominant colour. Yellow represents happiness, implying that she is the thing which can make both boys happy. She is also wearing white, emphasising her innocence. There is not any extensive use of make up in the piece.
This shot shows the geeky boy and girl characters’ costumes, which have not changed over time
  • Lighting. The lighting of the video is largely consistent during the first half of the video. It is standard and is only used to effect on a couple of occasions. For example, when the girl is reading to the class, her shadow can be seen behind her, making it seem as though a beam of light is hitting her. This puts her in an angelic light, just like how the boy sees her. Later, when the boy is making the cassette in his room, a strong white light is used. This is reflective of his hope at this point in the narrative. During the second half of the narrative, lighting plays a more obvious role. This part of the narrative takes place mostly on the clifftop, where the horizon is obviously in view. This makes this scene very bright, again highlighting the hope, happiness and innocence of the moment.

The bright light effect reflecting the geeky boy's hope

The 'spot-light' effect behind the girl character

  • Props. Perhaps the props with the most impact on the narrative are the cassette tape and the engagement ring. The destroying of the cassette tape marks the moment when the geeky boy’s heart is broken whilst the engagement ring represents the attempt to repair the disruption and possible new equilibrium (as the audience does not see the girls decision, it cannot be said if new equilibrium is established or not). Other props include the note book the girl is reading to the class from, which highlights her intelligence.

One of the most important props, the cassette tape

Another important prop, the engagement ring

Editing

One of the most obvious uses of editing is the use of special effects:

  • For example, for the first half of the narrative, most of the backgrounds are blurred. This is becasue the backgrounds (houses, trees, streets, and so on) are all familiar to the audience and are only there to show that the narrative takes place in an average town. The blurring stops them from becoming a distraction from the central plotline

This shot conveys the blurred background effect

  • The entire piece seems to favour use of a slow-motion effect on the majority of its shots. It is more obvious at certain times than others as to why this is used. For example, it highlights key points in the narrative, such as when the geeky boy creates the cassette or buys the ring, and when the cool boy destroys the cassette and throws away the ring. Furthermore, its heavy use in the first 45 seconds allows for greater audience attention on characters and actions, making characterisation easier. Other reasons for its use on the piece as a whole include continuity issues and the effect it has on the pace of the montage.

As mentioned many times now, a montage is used in this piece. It is used as the crossover between the character’s childhoods and adulthoods. There are many reasons for its use and it creates and contains many effects:

  • Pace of the narrative. By this point, all characters and the main disruption are established. The attempt to repair disruption and new equilibrium can only be completed in the children’s adulthood. This montage shows the audience all necessary information for the second half of the narrative. Namely, all relationships remain intact, and in fact romance may be beginning to bloom between the girl and the geeky boy. Although the two spend time together and have grown closer, the girl still chooses to be with the cool boy, which still causes pain to the geeky boy. Without this montage, the narrative would quickly become repetitive and dull, hence only the two most important parts of the narrative are presented to the audience in full, the beginning and the end
  • Shot Length. The length of each shot is significantly shorter than that of those not included in the montage. This reflective of the idea of growing up, moving on and time moving quickly, all essential to the montage and its aim of quickening the narrative
  • Juxtapositioning. It is instantly obvious to the audience that the characters have grown up, especially where the geeky boy and the girl are concerned, as their younger and older counterparts are shown in sequential shots.

There is not an abundance of continuity technbiques in this video. This probably due it’s simplistic nature, so the continuity is already easy to follow. However, there are examples of their use:

  • Shot/Reverse Shot. This technique is probably used the most. For example, at the very beginning when we are introduced to the geeky boy and the girl. The boy is looking off-screen at the girl. This is how the audience is introduced to the equilibrium. The cool boy is also introduced by the geeky boy and the girl looking off-screen at him, after which he is introduced. Another example is when the cool boy is destroying the cassette. We see the geeky boy’s reaction in the next shot. This technique is repeated so many times that by the end of the video, whenever characters look off-screen, the audience can assume that it is one of the other main characters. This helps build the tension when the older cool boy comes into the narrative, as he is introduced by the geeky boy and girl looking off-screen at him.

We see the geeky boy looking off-screen...

... then what he is looking at

The over-the-shoulder shot that introduces the girl

Guess who?

  • 180 Degree Rule. The 180 Degree Rule is largely abided by. Whenever it is broken, it is done so legally, through the use of Shot/Reverse Shot or Match on Action. Even if the Rule is broken illegally, it is hardly noticeable due to the consistent and simplistic mise-en-scene, allowing the audience to not become easily confused. When it is broken legally, it does not appear to be any obvious effect. However, it could be said that perhaps it highlights the distance between the geeky boy and the girl. For example, after the tape has been destroyed and he looks off-screen at the cool boy and the girl walking away. Also, later when the geeky boy is approaching the girl atop the cliff.
  • Eyeline Match. There are very few examples of eyeline match. It first appears during the montage, when the audience see’s both girl counterparts making faces directly at the screen, who we assume is the geeky boy. This is presumably to highlight the closeness between these two characters over this period of time. Eyeline Match is next used just before, during and after the proposal. Seeing each character from the other’s perspective emphasises the romance between them. We also see the older cool boy from the older geeky boy knelt position, which makes him seem higher and therefore in authority.

The first instance of the eyeline match technique

The eyeline match technique is used a lot during the proposal sequence

Eyeline match is used to show authority

  • Match On Action. This is quite a difficult technique to spot in this video, as some examples are more obvious than others, and some could not be the technique at all; they just look like it. However, there are some examples, such as when the geeky boy is making the cassette. We see him looking pleased with what he is making, and then we see it closer. This is possibly to emphasise his romantic nature and to make him seem more ‘cute’ to the audience. There is also a possible use of it during the proposal. We see the geeky boy get down on one knee, and then there is a focus on the ring and the girl’s reaction. Again, this highlights the romance of this scene, the attempt to repair the disruption.

We see the boy making something...

... then we see what he's making

Gatherings, findings and such

This video is definitely one of the main reasons as to why I have decided to create a music video, or a ‘narrative set to music’. The music allows the narrative to flow much more easily, and requires less shots to explain what is happening in the sequence. This is also aided by the fact that no dialogue is required. Dialogue is one of the other main reasons for my decision. Script writing is not my forte in the media production process. Furthermore, audio levels tend to not be good on the video cameras we use to film our productions. Whilst I would love to have a romance theme and narrative similar to this one, I can’t help but feel that I would end up stealing a lot of ideas from it, which is why I will research further for other themes to include in my own production.

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