My finished music video:

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My front digipak panel:
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My inside digipak panels:

My inside digipak panels:
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My back digipak panel (with album spine:)

My back digipak panel (with album spine:)
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Sunday, 15 October 2017

R+P Post 3: Music genres that interest me

One genre I would like to influence us would be Alternative Rock. As a subgenre of rock, it tends to have a lot of what made made rock so popular in the second part of the 20th century, in terms of the music's style and the way the artists present themselves, but also leans more towards deeper and more emotional or interesting themes, which would make for an interesting music video. This is the “alternative” part- the musicians set out to try and distance themselves from the ideas of rock overall, and changed their music slightly to work with this. You still get the guitar and drums and similar as with rock, but an alternative rock artist might incorporate a saxophone or other less common instrument into a song, or use a strange effect on one of the instruments for the whole duration of the song, and the whole song overall could be described as 'softer' than the average rock song.
Cage the Elephant's "Back Against The Wall" from their eponymous debut album. They are on of my favourite artists, and this is their most rock-leaning album- in this song you can hear the drums and fingers on the guitar strings and so on, very typical of rock. It already has a touch of the alternative rock that they eventually turn towards, especially in the slow start and fairly interesting lyrics, but overall it is very rock influenced, especially in comparison to the next song I will present. Click to play.

Cage the Elephant's "Telescope" from their third album "Melophobia." At this point, they have developed from a rock band which dabbles in garage and alternative rock to a full-blow alternative rock band. The album's title means fear of music, which they describe as the fear of making regular (and thus standard rock) music, and this song features lyrics inspired by the lead singer's depression. The instruments have evolved to accommodate this new direction, with a xylophone-sounding instrument at the beginning and a softer feel throughout. Click to play.

The look of alternative rock artists is also a bit different than regular rock artists. While both set out to be stylish and good-looking, an alternative rock performer might lean more towards a look that could be described as 'hipster,' whereas the regular rock performer would probably draw on mainstream fashion as well as rock history for their look. This opens up lots of opportunities for our artist's fashion sense, since 'hipster' is defined as being a bit more interesting and away from mainstream fashion while still looking conventionally stylish. The genre's look overall also tends more towards the strange, allowing alternative rock artists to do effectively whatever they want in their music videos- the only limit is that they tend to try and stay with the lyrics, using the music video as a way of amplifying or even just representing the lyrics' meaning, as Goodwin described in his theories.

Cage the Elephant from around the time of their debut. Note the long hair, typical of rock and also alternative rock, of the lead singer in the center, and the stylish but still fairly everyday clothes- even now they still have elements of the alternative rock look about them. Click to enlarge.
Cage the Elephant by the time of their fourth album. As they have developed more into an alternative rock band, so has their look, with the lead singer wearing a more interesting velvet jacket. Hats and glasses as well as more shirts rather than t-shirts can be seen. Click to enlarge.
A picture of Nirvana, one the most famous alternative rock bands. They are a lot older than Cage the Elephant, who debuted in 2006, but still have a similar fashion sense, with the long hair, strange sunglasses, hat, open jackets, and patterned clothing. Click to enlarge.
R.E.M., another older but popular alternative rock band. Once again there are sunglasses, a hat, and long hair, as well as patterned clothing and jackets, and even what appears to be a waistcoat on the band member on the far left. Click to enlarge.
Alternative rock took off the the 1980s, being influenced both by the counter-culture of punk and punk rock music of the 1970s and of course the ever-popular rock genre. As a result, alternative rock is really just a mish-mash of slightly different subgenres that all want to be somewhat distinct from the main genre of rock. By the end of the 1980s, different styles of alternative rock taking inspiration from all kinds of genres were popular, but in the 1990s Nirvana emerged as a huge success, taking influence from one of their more popular contemporaries/predecessors, R.E.M., and made alternative rock mainstream. Mostly alternative rock stayed somewhat independent however, leading to the subgenre's grouping with indie rock in the 2010s, despite a brief revival in the 2000s.

Another genre I think would be interesting for our song selection is Electro Swing. It is quite a strange genre that nevertheless has a not insignificant following, that combines the style and even themes of early 20th century music with the technology of today. This results in quite an interesting and varied sound- some electro swing songs could not be told apart from a normal swing song from the 1920s or '30s (and even '40s,) excepting sound quality, and others incorporate instruments and effects seen in modern electronic music to set themselves apart from other songs. This mix of old and new, as well as the theme of the music itself, are common throughout the genre's music, both sound-wise as well as in the lyrics and ideas of the songs.
"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing,)" written in 1931, played as a collaboration between two famous swing musicians, Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington. The brass instruments, wide variety of traditional instruments, lyrics talking about the music itself, instrumental solos, and scat are all pretty typical of the genre.

"Empires" by Electric Swing Circus, from their 2017 album "It Flew By." While the song doesn't reference swing music, the band's name does, as typical of the genre and seen in the previous song I referenced. The brass instrumentation is still present, as are the solos (especially trumpet, as before,) and scat, and as a modern twist drums are quite prominent.

The artists allow the fashions of the early 20th century to inspire them, but with a modern dress. Men could dress up in suits but adopt the more casual look of the modern day by losing the jacket, and women could wear the stereotypical 'flapper' dress and headband but modernise it by making the dress less restrictive, for example. Anything from the influential time period is fair game here, basically, and this would really benefit us when creating our own artist- we have a huge and obvious pool of inspiration, but it's open enough that we have a huge range or choices that we can put a modern spin on.
Louis Armstrong from the above song, wearing a formal suit (as was typical from the time) but quite casually with the buttons undone. The tie and collar being done up were popular in men's fashion in the swing era. Note him holding his instrument in this promotional picture. Click to enlarge.
Ella Fitzgerald, a popular female swing artist, wearing a feathery hat (as feathers were popular back then) and a dress with a V-neck, mostly plain but with a nice pattern. Click to enlarge.
Electric Swing Circus from the above song. The men have taken the casual suit look even further, dropping the ties entirely or for bowties, unbuttoning their collars, and not wearing the jackets- note the band member with braces on the right. The women have the typical V-necks and one has a feather boa. Click to enlarge.
Parov Stelar and his band, a popular electro swing act. Once more note the casual suits, with the band member on the right still wearing a tie but losing the jacket, while also holding his instrument and wearing braces. The female member of the band is wearing a plain dress with a simple but nice pattern. Click to enlarge.
As mentioned earlier, swing was popular in the early 20th century. It went through a brief revival in the 1960s and onward, before evolving into electro swing in the 1990s, alongside an aesthetic movement popularising clothing from the swing era- artists such as Parov Stelar emerged as popular, and into the 2000s and later other popular artists like Caravan Palace emerged, although the whole genre remains relatively niche and indie.

One final genre that we could choose is Indie Pop. As a subgenre of pop it has a large following, being a “popular” genre, and thus has an expansive history to draw on musically and otherwise. From older artists like The Smiths to modern artists like Bastille, indie pop has, musically and otherwise, evolved over time a fair amount, more so than other genres, probably owing to its link to pop music and the fact that what is popular is constantly changing, but it has always managed to remain in the mainstream- you may have noted the popularity of the two bands I used as examples in their respective time periods. The sound is similar to pop in that it is often fairly simple but always catchy, and similar to indie music in that it deals with deeper themes that are closer to the artists' hearts, that they can make music about as they are not as constrained by the industry.
A song popular even in the pop genre, "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor. Note the simple but catchy beats, frequent choruses, and upbeat but somewhat sexualised lyrics encouraging people to not worry about their bodies and body image in an entertaining way. It is quite a typical example of pop music that is designed for casual and enjoyable listening.

"Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths. A much older song than the previous one, and this time indie pop. Once again the instrumentation is catchy and upbeat, and their are frequent choruses and repetitions of certain lines. However, unlike the positive body image themes of "All About That Bass," this song deals with someone who used to have fights with their girlfriend (implied to be violent in some places,) but still loves her, and now she is in a coma and could die soon. This change of tone while adhering to pop conventions is one of the markers of indie pop.

The look of indie pop could probably be summed up as 'quirky.' This is because it takes a lot of cues from what is fashionable in the mainstream, but strays a little bit out of the spotlight as the artists put their own spin on it. So you will see the artists in the popular brands and/or with a strong sense of style, but maybe with a scarf or a colour scheme that you wouldn't usually see. The genre overall also tends to follow this pattern, with indie pop music videos being generally more colourful and interesting than a standard pop video, but otherwise very similar. I think this would benefit us as we could look at the standard conventions of music videos and then just put our own unique spin on them.
Meghan Trainor, a pop artist, wearing makeup and a leather jacket with styled hair to look good in a promotional shot. Click to enlarge.
The Smiths, an indie pop band, in a promotional shot, where they are also trying to look stylish but in a way less adherent to common fashionable items like leather jackets, and instead wearing, for example, jumpers. Click to enlarge.
The popular indie pop band Bastille in a promotional shot. They are wearing shirts referencing popular culture, such as Back to the Future and Twin Peaks, while one member has a stylish leather jacket similar to mainstream pop artist Meghan Trainor, and another has a similar hairstyle to a member of The Smiths in the above picture. Click to enlarge.
A promotional shot of indie pop band Miike Snow. Once again leather jackets are present, as are traditionally stylish fashion choices such as sunglasses tucked into a shirt collar and styled hair, as well as watches and jeans.
Indie pop developed when music became more common and accessible in the second half of the 20th century. Early artists in the 1980s took inspiration from their contemporaries and what music had influenced them, and used it to carve their own path. In 1986, NME released a compilation cassette called C86, which became a huge part of pop culture, and which continues to inspire today, and various independent record labels, like 1987's Sarah Records, emerged to cater to this new crowd of independent artists. As indie pop is defined by indie artists that produce pop music and/or become popular, and pop music is constantly changing, it has had a less defined path of development compared to other genres. Nowadays, indie pop tends to refer to both those artists that developed through this traditional path as well as any artist that creates the established pop music sound but in an independent manner- as such influence has come and continues to come from anywhere, especially pop culture.

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