Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Music Video analysis task

Steve Earle – Copperhead Road (UMG, 1988)

The video begins with a fade-in of black and shows footage from the Vietnam war against America, ironically the video was released in 1988 when Vietnam was promised renewal and dramatic reform. We then cut away to a long shot of a car in an old country road, presumably in some southern state of America, this is link of visuals and sound where synaesthesia comes into play, and we hear bagpipes played in a very country fashion which we instinctively think of this ‘redneck’, cowboy and simple lifestyle.
There’s a shot reverse shot between a man and the car which as the drums and guitar kick in, the video cuts away to a shot glass being slammed down onto the table, and then another cut away to a newspaper which states “ Moonshine raid on Copperhead Road” so by now we have an established genre for the song which is country music whilst kick-starting a neo-traditionalist aspect of the genre. Goodwin is a theorist which supports this view by having star image in portrayal with the genre; and its typical conventions.

The video then pays a short succession of individual clips from the location, some of this car going at some speed to where I presume would be the man’s house we keep cutting back to, we also cut to a homemade brewery containing Moonshine, a close up of the driver of the car smiling tells us that he has good news to tell. Emphasized by the fact he’s speeding down this road, we then have a cut back to the man sat outside his house looking quite fed-up and annoyed presumably because of the Moonshine raid.

Within this mesh of clips we have short close ups of the band playing but mainly close ups of the instruments themselves which could connote that they’re all about the music primarily. Which shows views of Steve Archer’s theory where music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band.
For the first time in the video we are introduced to Steve Earle as we have a long close up of him singing, possibly due to the demands of the record label wanting to sell records in a traditional sense by letting, the audience feel closer to the band and the action.

As Steve sings the lyrics ‘Everybody knew you made Moonshine’ we cut away back to the homemade brewery which is an illustrative feature of the video, this could also connote redundancy another feature probably demanded by the record label in order to widen or keep the majority of Steve Earle’s audience interested to what happens in the video.

Cutting back to a Close up of Steve Earle singing again for a lengthy amount of time, the camera doesn’t move or change shot, this could connote Steve’s star persona that he shows emotion through expression and not just lyrics or the way the song is sang, this will engage the audience and in turn build a more personal relationship with the star, and from a business point of view; help sell records.

A whip pan fires across the screen and focus’ back on the car driving, we have established in the narrative that the man driving the car is the man making the Moonshine; this is further reinforced by a shot of him drinking out of a jar and looking relatively happy with himself. This narrative appeals to the audience as they want to live outside the law and act like vigilantes.

As Steve begins singing again we cut back to the band’s performance where we see the drummer and a pan from Steve’s guitar to his face where he is looking directly to the camera which immediately separates the narrative from the song as it becomes a clear selling point as Steve is interacting with the audience, the earthy tone and faded, worn colours is these scenes are to illustrate the portrayal of the audience as being easy-going, chilled out people who enjoy simple things so the fact that Steve is looking direct into the camera shouldn’t bother or impact his audience and is more the control of the record label. Again this links to Goodwin as it becomes a selling point; Steve addressing the audience creates a relationship and makes them want to buy his records.
We start to have more creative cinematography brought into the performance as dollys and zooms are used to liven up the performance itself in sync with the music as it begins to quicken leading to the chorus, cutting back to the car again it is shot in a canted angle on a tilt which connotes that this man is a criminal/vigilante and shows the rebellious nature of his character. Copperhead road was an actual road in Tennessee although it has since been renamed as Copperhead Hollow Rd. due to theft of road signs bearing the song's name which shows the gritty, family like bond of Steve’s audience. The part of the video where it cuts to the car is filmed a lot like it should be in a movie, possibly ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ this intertextual link allows Steve’s star persona to widen his target audience. Both link to Goodwin’s theory.

The use of synaesthesia comes into play where the band are playing and at every point you can hear Steve’s guitar it either pans, cuts or zooms in/out onto the guitar and as we then cut to a close up of Steve’s face he sings “I still remember that rumblin’ sound” the camera shakes in time with the bass.

As the instrumental kicks in and the distinct country sound quickens the editing does as well, pans, zooms, whip pans, tracking and close ups are all used in quick succession, all of the band playing the fast, upbeat music is shown in parallel editing with the car as you can clearly see the car going faster and faster. The audience would respond to this positively, having peaks in songs for this genre of music allows the audience to participate and be able to link the music to real life situations.
Steve then sings “I volunteered for the army on my birthday” we cut to a shot of a birthday cake in a dark room only lit by the candles, the room is fairly empty and contains basic furniture; a sofa and a table with what appears to be tool boxes underneath the table, the slow-motion connotes that this was in the past and the lack of furniture and light is used to emphasise that the audience are people who keep things simple and are content with that lifestyle, the cake is shot in the centre of the frame and shows the extent of celebration within this life and for an entropic audience of country music would make them feel grateful for the sheer amount that western families give to their children on their birthdays, where a birthday cake is usually just ‘expected.

Steve Acrher’s theory works well within this video as the links between lyrics and the narrative, a carefully filmed performance might be part of the artist's persona or an extra aspect of the video designed to aid visualisation and the 'repeatability' factor. 

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