What should a music video do? Truth be told, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. There are several types of music videos that are all fun to watch and talk about. Three particular types that I often think of are ones that tell a story, ones that follow trends, and ones where the band just plays. Sometimes, the direction can either help or hinder the quality of a music video, and this can be seen in a-Ha’s classic one hit wonder, “Take On Me.”
The original version of this song needs no introduction. You’ve probably heard it before, with all of its catchy instrumentals and that high note that you know you can’t hit. If you’ve heard the song, then you’ve definitely seen its classic music video. I’m a fan of hybrids of animation and live action, and this is some of the best mixing of the mediums that I’ve seen. The distinct pencil drawing style really makes the video stand out, and it complements the song really well. The timeless story of love is one open to many interpretations, and this is a good one.
However, some music videos like to toss timelessness out of the window and just try to look or sound cool. As a result, they are often lost with time, only to be rediscovered years later on YouTube. Take this “Take on Me” cover by A1 (no, not the steak sauce) for example. This Tron-influenced video was made at the turn of the millennium, when the vision of technology was extremely fascinating. It was an era of a lot of blue visuals, a lot of computers, and a lot of bad green screen effects. This video has all of them, though I will give some credit for trying to match the more techno sound of this cover. This method of looking cool applies to videos like Eiffel 65’s “Blue” and Backstreet Boys’ “Larger than Life.” They may have looked cool at one point, but watching them now, they’re kind of hilarious. The same thing will likely apply to videos like Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish.”
If a video can’t tell a timeless story or if it tries too hard to be cool, then it can never hurt to just show the band playing. That advice applies to the cover of “Take On Me” by comedy duo Ninja Sex Party. When they released a cover album called Under the Covers in 2016, they released three music videos that differed from the group’s usual comedic fare. One of them was “Take On Me,” whose video is simply shots of singer Danny Sexbang, keyboardist Ninja Brian, and backing band TWRP. While the video may not sound like much on paper, enough editing tricks and visual flair are thrown in to make the experience feel fresh. As a result, the video ends up a good product.
I advise you to look all of these videos up and compare them for yourself. It’s fascinating how one song can inspire several different interpretations, and it can be fun to compare them. Whether they’re timeless or not is really up to personal standards and Father Time. Either way, enjoy whatever music videos you like.
Thanks for reading, and while you’re here on Mid-American Culture, maybe you could have a look around?