Rant #15- What’s Wrong With English MVs?

I know I promised a rant about how English singers are lazy, but I kind of wanted to get this one out before I do another rant that makes me annoyed.

Those of you who don’t know me should know that I am VERY concerned with English MVs. That is why, after I get my film degree, I plan to go to Korea, get my masters (there is this amazing film college in Seoul I REALLY want to go to) and work my way up to a director of Korean MVs for a long time. After I have a lot of experience I plan to try and bring the Korean style of MVs over to the US, and also to maybe establish a Korean-style entertainment company to create singers who… you know… actually sing.

But anyways that’s not for a long time. For now I’ll just rant about what needs to be fixed and what isn’t bad.

1) Lighting
Status: Passable
Within English MVs nothing really stands out in the lighting department for me. Of course, if the piece isn’t visually interesting then how can you really say if the lighting helps that? I like MVs that, when they go with an abstract storyline, have some kind of new lighting feature that carries through their MV. The celebrity doesn’t need to be the center of the action, in some cases they can just be what makes you notice just how cool the lighting is.
Best Lighting Ever: Super Junior’s “Minah (Bonamana)/ Beautiful (Obviously)” MV.

2) Wardrobe
Status: Unimaginative
While it might be less confusing to the audience if the singer wears the same clothing throughout an MV, it’s visually dull. In English MVs you tend to see one of three things: 1) The singer wears the same thing the whole time 2) the singer wears something you would usually see worn on the street, making them  seem more like just a normal person 3) They wear something horribly outlandish you would NEVER see in real life (Lady Gaga takes option 3 and runs with it). That’s not necessarily bad- the costume kind of depends on the song and any story in the MV itself. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll just give you examples and you can kind of see what I mean.
Worst Wardrobe: Adam Lambert’s “If I Had You”

Best Wardrobe: It’s really hard to stand out in this category in my book. Not that I can’t think of MVs where the outfits were good, but the outfit is good depending on the MV itself, so you can’t say “Oh, that’s the best” because they are just too different. But it *is* however easy to say “Was the co-di (costume director) on crack???”

3) Solo Shots
Status: Desperate Work Needed
English MVs tend to be story MVs. A lot of them include shots of the singer standing alone in some part of the set you also see populated by background people at other times. I don’t know how to explain it, but it kind of feels awkward like that. If you are going to do a solo shot of a singer then you should change the scenery entirely. It should still fit into your overall story theme, but don’t just clear out the extras and film the solo shot. Oh- and don’t film in front of flat walls or cars, that’s overdone and DULL. If you want to go for a solo shot it should always be in front of a larger background. Like a hallway or with trees behind them or something. A flat wall just feels like you threw them in a corner for the shot (*cough*every Cascada MV *cough*). Oh- and if you want a close up of their face, then ZOOM THE CAMERA IN. Don’t put it right in front of them! I can’t tell you how many solo shots of singers just make them look cross-eyed from staring at the camera. That goes for all MVs, regardless of what country they are from.
Worst Solo Shots: Any Cascada MV, Dong Bang Shin Ki’s “Rising Sun” (too TOO cliché)
Best Solo Shots: Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry”, F(x)’s “LaChaTa” (each member had their own set)

4) Set Design
Status: Dead and Buried
Let me clarify what I mean by this. I don’t mean the set in general (i.e. any location they filmed at). I mean stages built for the MV specifically. Um… Another example: Adam Lamber’s “For Your Entertainment” was filmed in a building, they didn’t make the walls and everything themselves. I guess I mean more like sound stages or studios. Does that make sense? Ok, good. If you only use pre-existing spaces in MVs then it feels very real and very easy to relate to sure, but it’s also visually familiar and people will loose interest. It doesn’t mean the whole MV should be shot at locations from scratch, but there should be scenes where the staff had to work.
Worst Set Design: Any Cascada MV.
I know I pick on Cascada a lot, but that is because her MVs have got to be some of the worst things I’ve ever seen. EVERY MV is filmed in the same location (or at least it looks the same) and at the same time. Her clothing, the lighting, her solo shots- all look exactly the same. I can’t keep track of what shot is from what MV. A singer should NEVER use the same set twice if it is a real-life location. Similar sound stage designs are ok, as they are more of a call back then a literal replay of what you just saw.
Best Set Design: FT Island’s “Bad Woman” (LOVE the lighting trick with the musicians moving in front of the light in a pendulum-like fashion)
Best Linked Set Design: Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” and “Minah (Bonamana)/ Beautiful (Obviously)”.
This is what I mean when I say the same set is OK if it’s a sound stage. “Bonamana”‘s sets are meant to reflect the dancing stage of “Sorry, Sorry” and link the two songs. It also works because both songs have similar beats and the pace is near identical if not outright identical. Since it isn’t an actual physical location they can get away with using it twice.

5) Story
Status: Take your medicine
A story doesn’t need to be 1) completely linear in it’s approach and acted in a dead-on fashion or 2) so abstract you need a PHD in psychology to get what’s going on. English MVs are almost exclusively story MVs, but even then it’s like a half-baked project. There is some kind of story that started out, then was totally ignored in the middle, and finally came back with some ridiculous ending in the last four seconds. If you are going to have a storyline you need to make it strong (without overriding the song) and consistent. Not every shot has to contribute to the story, but I’d say at least half of them should. I’m going to start going back through and counting the shots in semi-story MVs to see the balance (I won’t post it here, just for my own interest).
Worst Story MV: Cascada’s “Dangerous” (she’s got all the worst people working for her) and Davichi’s “Time, Please Stop” (I LOVE the song, but the story is too loud)
Best Story MV: Super Junior’s “It’s You” and Super Junior- M’s “SuperGirl” (this one is a great example of balance)

Status: -_- Mummified
WHY DON’T ENGLISH SINGERS DANCE?! The only one’s I’ve seen dance are Chris Brown and Lady Gaga (she has a great figure… I’m jealous…). With the popular theme in the US being songs with stronger beats (aka- Dance songs) you’d think singers would start to dance more. If you are going to feed their voices through an auto-tuner then at least they should be kick-A dancers, right? Apparently not. Maybe because choreography takes time and effort- and why put in work when you can skate by for a few years on looks alone? Singers look AWKWARD when they are just left in every shot to wave their arms and do that awkward dance kids do in Junior High when they have no one to dance with. You know what I’m talking about. And some singers you can tell really WANT choreography- like Nick Carter in pretty much any stationary Backstreet Boys MV, he always makes up his own in the background and looks really strange twitching on his own. I think there needs to be some kind of strong choreography movement. If a singer released a dance song with a strong dance to go along with it the popularity of the song would increase substantially. Try it. AND NOT WITH JUSTIN BIEBER.
Worst Dance MV: Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor” and Backstreet Boys “Drowning” (Nick is seriously loosing it there)
Best Dance MV: Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” (I know, I didn’t want to choose another Super Junior MV, but this is a case where the dance, in my opinion, really made the song more popular than it would have been just on it’s own) and After School’s “Because of You”.

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