So What Does It All Mean? Analysis of a pop promo: The Blackout’s ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.’

Hey guys, I came across this on Twitter yesterday:

So while we wait to see The Blackout’s new up and coming music video, I thought I’d post this. It’s an analysis of a music video that we had to do for a uni project last year, I chose to analyse TBO’s ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.’

Enjoy!

Critical Analysis of a Pop Promo.

When looking at The Blackout’s video for, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, from their second album ‘The Best in Town’ – recorded during a live show at London’s Islington 02 Academy in September 2009- it is apparent that the video is mainly a performance video.

 

The video consists of cuts between the band performing and fans waiting to enter the venue while the band meet and mingle with fans, signing things and having pictures taken.
The video uses fast paced editing, which fits the mood and tempo of the track, as well as suits the expectations of the youth of today –or the ‘YouTube generation’ -who need their attention to be captured throughout, otherwise they will lose focus and interest.

This seems to be reaffirmed through the use of attention catching bright colours, as well as the use of lights during the performance aspect, and the colour of the surroundings and the fans themselves.  It also cuts from colour to black and white at points. This could be seen as another attempt to keep the viewer interested, though it could also be said those particular snapshots could be made to look timeless through the use of grainy black and white film. It was filmed during a gig, and is therefore devoid of the distraction of narrative and concept, rather, choosing to let the music be shown in its natural environment of a live show.

The idea of a performance video has been and still is, very typical of the rock genre and artists of that genre, as rock music by its very nature is very truthful and gritty as is the atmosphere of a live show as it’s just the crowd and the band and the connection between the audience, the band and the music, contrasted to the mainstream pop industry whereby everything is squeaky clean and spoon fed to you.

Rock music has become more accepted in recent years with bands like Biffy Clyro and Kings of Leon becoming increasingly popular with the mainstream. And it appears that bands that have more to say, and use metaphor and imagery in their lyrics to express meaning are seemingly more comfortable with letting the song speak for its self rather than dressing it in narrative concepts.

However, whilst that is true, it is still the case that heavier rock and bands such as ‘Slipknot’ and ‘My Chemical Romance’ are not embraced – and are often demonised – by the mainstream. Thus the outlet of music still creates a sense of familiarity, comfort and -in some cases – escape for its audience due to their lack of identification with what the mainstream say they ‘should’ be listening to.  As Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance put it: “You’re supposed to come to a come to a rock show because you’re not cool anywhere else”…“If only the cool people were allowed in there’d be no one coming to the shows.” Therefore the surroundings of a live show could be seen to create a community for ‘rock kids’, and this promo is somewhat demonstrating that.

In previous years rock music was also seen as very ‘other’ as it was something outside of the mainstream ideals. For example the 90’s saw popularity grow for bands such as Nirvana and Papa Roach however, this was overlooked by the mainstream at the time, due to their embracing pop music culture.
However, the idea of the performance video has always been popular with rock artists for example, Papa Roach’s video for first single, She Loves Me Not features the band playing, while cutting throughout to youths vandalising the area and such. Likewise, the video for Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit is performance based.

I chose this particular promo to analyse as I have an interest in the band and I believe that the video is very typical, of the genre and its type of artists as it adheres to unspoken conventions of the genre in the way that it is performance based, and I like the idea that bands can capture audience’s attention, sometimes more so, by letting the song breathe and producing a performance video as it is how it is and doesn’t hinge on the pretence of conceptual ideas. The trend of performance videos is carried through to today, with artists such as Black Veil Brides and You Me at Six utilising performance in their videos.

I would say that the majority of the target market is reflected in the video its self: older teenagers to early 20’s (15-21) who have quite a quirky style involving dyed hair with layered or asymmetric cuts, piercings, dark eye makeup, skinny jeans and colourful – and more than likely – band t-shirts, with a keen interest in the band, if not in music in general. Thus breaking away from the social norms of the mainstream and the idea of squeaky clean pop stars.
The promo also features You Me At Six’s Josh Franceschi – who lends guest vocals to the track – as well as members of Kids in Glass Houses and Young Guns. This inclusion of other bands may also entice fans of those bands to watch the video that, maybe they wouldn’t have watched otherwise, thus getting The Blackout exposure to potential new fans and expanding their fan base.

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