Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones

Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones

Language: English

Pages: 360

ISBN: 082234162X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Music videos are available on more channels, in more formats, and in more countries than ever before. While MTV—the network that introduced music video to most viewers—is moving away from music video programming, other media developments signal the longevity and dynamism of the form. Among these are the proliferation of niche-based cable and satellite channels, the globalization of music video production and programming, and the availability of videos not just on television but also via cell phones, DVDs, enhanced CDs, PDAs, and the Internet. In the context of this transformed media landscape, Medium Cool showcases a new generation of scholarship on music video. Scholars of film, media, and music revisit and revise existing research as they provide historically and theoretically expansive new perspectives on music video as a cultural form.

The essays take on a range of topics, including questions of authenticity, the tension between high-art influences and mass-cultural appeal, the prehistory of music video, and the production and dissemination of music videos outside the United States. Among the thirteen essays are a consideration of how the rapper Jay-Z uses music video as the primary site for performing, solidifying, and discarding his various personas; an examination of the recent emergence of indigenous music video production in Papua New Guinea; and an analysis of the cultural issues being negotiated within Finland’s developing music video industry. Contributors explore precursors to contemporary music videos, including 1950s music television programs such as American Bandstand, Elvis’s internationally broadcast 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert, and different types of short musical films that could be viewed in “musical jukeboxes” of the 1940s and 1960s. Whether theorizing music video in connection to postmodernism or rethinking the relation between sound and the visual image, the essays in Medium Cool reveal music video as rich terrain for further scholarly investigation.

Contributors. Roger Beebe, Norma Coates, Kay Dickinson, Cynthia Fuchs, Philip Hayward, Amy Herzog, Antti-Ville Kärjä, Melissa McCartney, Jason Middleton, Lisa Parks, Kip Pegley, Maureen Turim, Carol Vernallis, Warren Zanes

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Digital Suite, a package of thirteen digital channels from MTV Networks including MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV Español, VH1 Classic, VH1 Hits, VH1 Soul, and VH1 Country—we cannot avoid the conclusion that there are, in fact, many, many more hours of music television available now than ever before, even if MTV itself has moved away from video as the staple of its programming. And while we might be encouraged by MTV to confuse MTV and “music television,” it seems that such confusion is no longer

(Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001), 45. See ibid., 29–62; and Terenzio, MacGillivray, and Okuda, The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America, 1–16, for outlines of the conflicts each technology faced in the public market. Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp’” (1964), in Against Interpretation and Other Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1966), 277; 282–84. Ibid., 277. For anthologies providing an introduction to the debates surrounding camp, see Moe Meyer, ed., The Politics and

pot of gold and the Pink Floyd song “Money,” which commences with the jingling sounds of a cash register, is clear. The figure of the pot of gold thus serves as an associative link between the two different songs on each soundtrack. This associative substitution allows for a rereading of the scene, in which, as with “The Great Gig in the Sky,” a different yet related narrative subtext and emotional tenor emerge. In the original film, Dorothy’s reaction to the sight of Oz, while represented as

fourth section explores the ways that music videos treat close-ups of the star. The final section looks at several of the means by which editing can reflect musical features. I argue here that music video editing’s varied roles work to enable relations between sound and image. The Basics: Shots and Edits When constructing a taxonomy of shots and edits in music video, we can begin with traditional narrative film practices. Within the rather large possible taxonomy of music video edits, it is

anticipated. One of my favorite examples of cinema’s fragmentation of the body and how the viewer participates in its reconstruction is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. In one of the film’s first scenes, the camera reveals a woman’s legs as she tiptoes on a table. We as viewers may have the pleasure of thinking about the woman—even as we are reminded, as the camera follows an elderly male servant’s entrance into the room, that we might feel some shame in doing so. In a subsequent tighter

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