tishaturk: (TV: Buffy)
[personal profile] tishaturk
Quick note on VividCon: I am still figuring out the best way to find mutually agreeable interview times, but I should be emailing people about that today or tomorrow. (VividCon! Yay!)

And now the real point of this post: Let's talk about vids that own their songs.

Song choice is one of those perennial discussion topics for vidders and vidwatchers (and also the subject of one of my favorite sequences in OTW's documentary series on vidding, where a bunch of fans are asked what makes a good vid and "song choice" is the first response from something like half a dozen people). It's a topic I find fascinating, because a vidder's or viewer's sense of what constitutes a good--or perfect--song choice is profoundly subjective, and so there are song choices about which people strongly disagree, but there are also song choices that produce pretty broad consensus about their awesomeness or appropriateness.

[personal profile] nestra made a post several years back about the difference between good song choice and genius song choice, and [personal profile] sherrold made a comment to that post that has stuck with me ever since, in which she said of [personal profile] astolat's "Uninvited": "I can't hear the song without seeing the vid in my mind's eye."

That comment, for me, captures exactly what it means for a vid to own a song--a phrase that made immediate sense to me the first time I saw people using it. Owning a song is a separate category, at least for me, from good or perfect or genius song choice, and I've been trying to work out what I think the difference is. There are plenty of vids where I think the song choice is terrific or inspired, but I can still think of the song separately from the vid. For a while my working theory was that the distinction has to do with how I first heard the song: if I knew the song before I saw the vid, or had pre-existing associations with the song, the vid was less likely to own that song. But then I remembered "Haunted," [personal profile] flummery's Odyssey 5 vid (which frankly owns EVERYTHING EVER, not just that song); I knew the song before I saw their vid, and in fact I'd already seen a pretty good vid set to that song, but once I saw their version? That was it for me. Whenever I hear that song--when it comes up on shuffle or whatever--I think of their vid. I hear "I will always miss you," and I see the earth blowing up. Similarly, [personal profile] gwyn and [personal profile] feochadn's Charlie Jade vid "I Remember" is set to an R.E.M. song I knew and loved for well over a decade before they vidded it, but once I saw the vid I realized that the song was always about trying to communicate across collapsing universes and I just wasn't smart enough to see it yet. These examples demonstrate that, for me, songs I didn't already know may have an advantage over songs I'm familiar with, but unfamiliarity can't be the full explanation.

But I don't know whether my experience is representative or not! So tell me: Do some vids own songs for you? What's the difference between great song choice and a vid that owns a song? What's it like to listen to a song that's owned by a vid? Do you see specific clips from the vid in your head, or does it just make you think about the characters and the show?

Date: 2010-07-29 11:10 pm (UTC)
ua_the_terrible: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ua_the_terrible
I love this question of vids owning songs, especially when it is juxtaposed with the subtly different idea of great song choice. Nestra puts it really well in that post you link to when she (he?) writes, "It's got to be a song that fits the vid *perfectly*." Yeah, I think that is a good way to think about the way the song relates to the vid: the song fits the preexisting story/idea/argument of the vid. However, when I think of a vid owning a song, I tend to think about that relationship (song supplementing vid) being reciprocated in some ways. A vid that owns a song, whether or not I'm familiar with it beforehand or not, gives a body to the song that just wouldn't be there without the vid.

Take for example "Ring them Bells" by sisabet (as you know, one of my favorite vids). I'd heard the song before seeing the vid and liked it just fine. The old time feel created with Dylan's voice and the marching of the piano are wonderful, and I love the sound of the words. However, I've never really related to the lyrics. He uses pretty words and neat phrases, and I'm sure that he's singing about something that is potentially (hopefully) important to him, but I've never felt that. Yet, after watching sisabet's vid, the pretty words are infused with a compelling, relatable story for me. Yes the lyrics fit the story/argument sisabet wants to present, but the story/argument sisabet wants to present gives the lyrics a reason to be, it gives them a deeper layer behind the pretty and poetic. That vid owns the song and beyond just thinking about sisabet's ideas when I hear "Ring them Bells," I can now relate to that song in a way which would have been impossible for me without that vid.

Date: 2010-07-31 06:42 pm (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
However, when I think of a vid owning a song, I tend to think about that relationship (song supplementing vid) being reciprocated in some ways. A vid that owns a song, whether or not I'm familiar with it beforehand or not, gives a body to the song that just wouldn't be there without the vid.

I really love this distinction. I'm not a vidder (except in my head) (yet), but I can think of vids that do this, and even more vidless songs that get stuck to certain stories or characters for me, and become ten times more than they were without the association.

Of the ~200 vids I've got stowed on my hd (and I'm still missing many, many classics), let's see...

Icebound Stream, definitely. First exposure to song, plus that footage is so striking! The combination blew me away. When I listen, yes, I'm seeing the vid in my mind.

We Go Together, I am sorry to say, has utterly hijacked its tune, forever. But I'm mostly cackling to myself about the concept, rather than remembering specific clips.

[personal profile] f1renze's My Rights Versus Yours is what [personal profile] ua_the_terrible describes: interesting, yet enigmatic lyrics turned gorgeously specific, like they were just waiting for someone to notice they've always been about Slings & Arrows.

[personal profile] charmax' Boom Boom Ba (Xena) is the opposite: OVERWHELMINGLY FABULOUS VISUALS just...tentacled their way inside a sexy but fairly blah tune, and now owns it completely.

And one more for contrast's sake: here's a vid that doesn't own its song, but whose song choice is nonetheless jaw-droppingly effective. [personal profile] kazbaby's Eurydiceverse is a shipper vid for a Stargate slash pairing that has almost no supporting footage. She might as well be vidding a crossover. It's not as visually slick as the stuff I tend to think of as VVC House Style, with its meticulous sightlines and whatnot, but by god, it sets its mood and makes its point. 3:00 onward, especially, just kills me -- but without good ol' Placebo she'd be dead in the water.

So, it depends. Sometimes the song is stronger than the vid and holds it up. Sometimes a weak song weakens an otherwise well-executed concept. Sometimes a great vid makes a good song better. Sometimes they're perfectly weighted. Sometimes a great vid transforms its song (see Sloane's Too Many Dicks), which is an extremely important phenomenon to notice when making arguments about Fair Use.

Date: 2010-08-31 12:11 am (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
But in the context of a vid, the song’s story is transformed.

What a compelling way of looking at it. I'm going to be thinking about this.

I'm also interested in your point about vidless songs that do the same kind of thing; this is the point of fanmixes, yes? I have occasionally wondered if fanmixes (or for that matter songfics) are the gateway drugs for vidding...

That'd be a resounding "Yes"! I currently don't have the tech to support a vidding habit, but I'll be washing dishes or something with my mp3 player on "shuffle" and suddenly a vid will start assembling itself in my head, out of the blue. I fanmix all the time, as consolation. I wrote about the impulse here.

Date: 2010-07-29 11:22 pm (UTC)
iulia: Leslie Knope in a hospital bed, eating a waffle (Default)
From: [personal profile] iulia
Some vids definitely own songs for me, and it occasionally goes a step further--some vids own singers for me. For example, due to the brilliance of Dualbunny's BSG Starbuck vids (three of them, set to various songs by Pink), now Pink = Starbuck. Even when I hear a song by Pink that hasn't been used in a vid, I start thinking of how it could be made into a Starbuck vid. As another example, um, Britney Spears = reboot!Kirk :)

Date: 2010-07-30 01:18 am (UTC)
klia: (flowers)
From: [personal profile] klia
Song choice is always hugely important for me because I've always strongly associated music with specific emotions and memories (or time periods). And, I think, having that... baggage, for lack of a better word... is why I tend to imprint on certain vids, and why I'm really picky about the way a song's mood, tempo, lyrics, and emotions mesh (or contrast) with the source.

I used to think I always imprinted on the first (good *g*) vid I saw to a certain song, but I don't. Like, she'll kill me for this, but as much as I loved [personal profile] gwyn's (Now and Again) version of Kryptonite, the [personal profile] flummery girls' I-Man vid is the one that immediately comes to mind whenever I hear that song. Maybe I had more emotional resonance with I-Man? I'm not sure. And I didn't see their DW Handlebars vid first, either, but it's the one I always think of when I hear the song (and before seeing that vid, I *hated* the song; if it came on the radio, I couldn't change the station fast enough!)

Speaking of owning a song -- Little Lion Man is suddenly a hit song, getting lots of radio play, and every time I hear it I can see [personal profile] killabeez's SPN vid in my head. Oh, Dean! <3

Date: 2010-07-30 04:18 am (UTC)
ghost_lingering: Minus prepares to hit the meteor out of the park (today I saved the world)
From: [personal profile] ghost_lingering
[Note: all the examples I'm giving are based on vids that are currently on my HD right now; they might not be the best examples, but I'm too lazy to hunt better ones down. And, I really love all the vids I mentioned even if I'm using them as examples of vids that don't completely own the song. Aaaaand, sorry, I totally failed at looking up links. If you don't have any, let me know and I'll find them for you.]

Sooooo, be warned, I wrote a lot. Er. IDEK.

There's a couple of things for me, that make a vid really own a song. First the song has to sound like either the character(s) or the show or the idea being vidded. Second, I have to watch the vid and come out thinking: "That song was written for the vid" instead of "that song was a really good fit" (or "wtf, song-show disconnect!"). Third, the vid has to be made in such a way that what's going on visually doesn't contradict with the lyrics or the music. And fourth and finally, there is some level on which that vid could not have been made with any other song.

The first point is where I get most hung up on that gap between good vid/fine song choice and a vid owning the song and it's also probably the most idiosyncratic. With some fandoms people have an easier time agreeing on what the show "sounds" like (how many Firefly vids are to folk or country songs with a slightly modern edge or rather disjointed sounding songs for River?), but for other shows I think you start getting more and more personal. For example, "Start the Commotion" by Danegen is a fun vid and I like watching it, but neither Hardison or the show read as hip-hop to me, so I have this sound disconnect going on—the entire time I'm watching I know I'm watching something that someone made about a show, if that makes sense? Besides being the "wrong" genre of music, things like a male vocalist being used for a vid about a female character (or vice versa) can sometimes (not always) throw me too.

I think it's also important to note that vidders can make their vid look like the song, instead of just choosing a song that looks like the footage. Lim's "I Am Lamb" is a good example of that. On it's own, SGA does NOT look like Johnny Cash sounds, but she made a vid that very much looks like the music sounds. It doesn't own the song for me, because there are times when (IMO) there is too great a disconnect between the story she's telling and the story that the song is telling, but it's a good example of how visual effects can be really, well, effective.

The second point I think is fairly self explainatory, or at least I don't feel like I have anything else to add to it.

I think the third point is where I might differ from a lot of people, because I think the way that I think of lyrics in vids is different from the norm. (Maybe this isn't the case anymore; I just know that when I first started watching vids I read a bunch of meta and came away feeling like I should be ashamed that I think that literalism has a place in vidding.) Vids that work with the lyrics to create metaphors (Sea Fever; Land by … shoot apparently it was a challenge vid at VVC so I have no idea who made it; The Mountain by Shalott & Melina; and you know, a hell of a lot of good vids out there) are awesome, but I feel like there's a goodly portion of vids where the vidder strays from the lyrics, not for the purposes of metaphor, but simply because the lyrics aren't telling the story that they want the vid to tell or because they're afraid that being literal will mean being heavy-handed or corny. And that divide between the vid's story and the song's story often distracts or confuses me.

That isn't to say that I don't sometimes love vids that do this; Convenient Parking by Cherry is probably the best example of me being confused by the juxaposition of the lyrics and the vid's story, and yet I fucking LOVE that vid; it sounds creepy just like it should, and the story is perfectly clear and handled brilliantly, but every time I stop to listen to the lyrics I go: "convenient parking, wtf does that mean?"

Aaaaaaand, I don't really have anything to add re: the fourth point either.

One thing though … when it comes to my own vids (or vid ideas) there are some songs that I can't think of in terms of anything else (for example, "Sadie Hawkins"=Elle Greenaway to me and nothing else) because the song owns the vid idea. It's like it's the song that's deciding. But other songs I've vidded, or even that I have ideas for, don't have that same pull. "We Will Become Silhouettes" means something specific to *me* but I can imagine someone else vidding it completely differently, for example.

Now! Vids on my HD right now that I think own their songs:

Jerusalem by yunitsa
Listen, when one of the musicians comments on the vid post saying that if he could he'd make the vid the official music video, you know that there is some kind of wonderful synchronicity going on. This is a really good example of a vid that makes use of the fact that the story and the song come from the same country and culture.

Ok, so to do a bit of navel gazing in relation to this vid … Jerusalem is by the Indelicates who I've actually made a vid to. But my vid most definitely does NOT own the song, despite the fact that I think the song choice works. My vid, which was a Slings & Arrows vid to the song Unity Mitford, doesn't really follow the intent of the song (understatement) though it doesn't ever contradict the lyrics themselves. But, going by the title, the song is supposed to be about one of Hitler's lovers and … my vid most definitely isn't about that & I even changed the vid's title to purposefully try to go away from that. This isn't to say that matching up a song's intent to the vid's intent determines whether or not a vid owns a song, but I think that if you stray too far from the song's intent you're probably getting into a song that's a good fit territory, instead of a song that seems *made* for the vid. Which, bringing this back to Jerusalem—this vid stays a lot closer to what the song seems to be about and I think, in this case anyway, that works in the vid's favor.

Icebound Stream by Sisabet
This vid sounds like a) Victoria, and b) polar bears, so! I can't hear this song without thinking of the vid.

The Glass by thingswithwings
I don't think this vid could be made with a different song; not only is the intrumental so lovely, the title of the piece is a summation of the quote which inspired the vid (that slash is what happens when you take the glass away). I think other slash vids with the same pairings can be made, but they wouldn't mean the same thing.

Unforgivable by Keely
I'm partial to this vid, because it explores and condems basically everything that angers me about the Harry Potter books/movies AND it's a Luna vid, and IMO she's the one bright spot in the later half of the series. Anyway, I think that the song sounds like Luna, but, perhaps even more why I think this vid owns the song is because both the song and the vid are arguing for an interpretation that I agree with like no other. So I guess I mention it because I think part of why I was sold on this song right away is because it fits so well with an argument that I've made hundreds of times already.

Half the Man by isagel
So when I watch a vid for the first time, I usually look up the lyrics. If I remember correctly this vid uses only the chorus of the song, which I think proves that you can make a song that would otherwise be a fine choice or even a poor choice and craft it into a song that would be owned by the vid.

Nobody Loves You by Hazelk
This song is almost cheating since it's sung by Shirley Mason who plays Catherine Weaver, but I think that it proves that outside influences can make a song work even better. Anyway, I have trouble connecting with T:SCC vids because I often have trouble really getting into the song choice (even for songs I LOVE), but this one had me right away—it sounds like the show, it sounds like the character (not surprising!), and the story it tells works so well with the story of the show/vid.

Red by Obsessive24
This is an example, I think, of a vid that strays from the song's original intent, but that still works remarkably well. For the brief flurry of time that I was a Merlin fan, this vid *was* Arthur to me, and it's one of the few Merlin vids that holds up now that I don't feel fannish about the source anymore. Anyway, it's the chorus that sells this for me as *the* Arthur song, because it describes, exactly, what I was hoping for for Arthur in the series. (If only the writers lived up to it … ) Oh, and, I think it's a good example of how to use the title of a song. Red! Even the *title* seems made for Arthur & Camelot.

Marina by … I think Keely? It's another challenge vid, sorry.
Anyway, this is a good example of a song that fits the vid idea, because I think in this case the idea/argument that the vid is trying to make is more important than the show it was made with. So while I can see this vid being made in other ways, I can't see the vid being about anything other than what it's about. If that makes sense?

…And that was tl;dr. Anyway, to be honest, you should take everything I said with a grain of salt, because I fucking LOVE vids to the song "Holding Out For A Hero" and will defend to the death the artistic integrity of those who make them. So clearly when it come to the popular wisdom of song choice I totally fail.

Date: 2010-08-01 02:33 pm (UTC)
rivkat: Dean and Castiel (dean and castiel)
From: [personal profile] rivkat
Since the song just came up on my iTunes, I realized I did have one of these: giandujakiss's A Charming Man, to The Wondersmith and His Sons, Astronautalis. Every single line fits and provides new insight into SPN's Castiel, which I remembered just by listening to the song. It's so good, in fact, that I'm not sure that a non-SPN fan would even get it--the way that the Dr. Who Handlebars is in a few places ("just because I don't like them"), as compared to something like ST:TOS You're So Vain, where the thematic stuff adds a ton if you are a fan but the vid itself is I think still accessible.

Date: 2010-08-30 02:45 pm (UTC)
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
From: [personal profile] rivkat
Do you have a list of accessible vids you use to introduce the form? Because I too am doing a lot of speaking on this. I generally do either something Star Trek or the Iron Man Handlebars, though that's now aging a bit.

Date: 2010-07-29 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
I don't know if I can articulate the idea any further but, I do absolutely agree with you on the examples you gave. Those vids definitely own their songs.

I would also add Talitha's "Fireflies."

My current obsesso-vid that I have been watching over and over is Kiki's "We Are All Connected" for SGU. It is beautiful and brilliant and moving but, I can still imagine other ways to use the song. I can imagine other choices that might have been made for each clip and think about why she chose this shot over that shot and how she used movement.

The vids that own their songs are a bit harder to parse that way. They look like they spring into existence as a whole and it is hard to imagine one bit without the other bit.


tishaturk: (Default)
Tisha Turk

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