Saturday, June 06, 2009

Music: Tribute to the Music Video Parody

The music video (in the form we know it today) is only about thirty years old, but even since the beginning, they have been ripe for parody. Editorially-challenged directors, pompous productions, ego-stroking close-ups - a bad music video can inadvertently celebrate the worst excesses of popular music.

Thankfully, the music video parody has been around for almost as long, bringing things back down to Earth with humor. It's nice to see that in the YouTube age, the tradition started off by "Weird Al" Yankovic is alive and well:

"On a Boat"

There are two kinds of rap music video - the kind that shows how hardcore a rapper is (bragging about how they're going to kill you and your friends, along with shots of urban squalor), and the kind that shows you how rich a rapper is (throwing wads of cash at the camera, rolling around in fancy cars).

"On a Boat," a single from The Lonely Island's "Incredibad" album, makes fun of the latter:

The addition of T-Pain makes a decent parody into a classic - his echoing on the chorus lends authenticity to the soundtrack, which is what every parody music video strives for. On a casual listen, most people would not realize the song was making fun of rap cliches until they focused in on the lyrics.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart"

Many music videos are fairly staid affairs. They might show the band playing in a warehouse, or some simple story involving the band members or the lyrics. For some reason, though, a few people take the music video as a chance to get ultra-surreal or artsy.

The "literal video version" meme on YouTube really skewers this trend:

The above parody of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by dascottjr is one of the best I've seen, since it hews closely to the phrasing and melody of the original song, and since Bonnie Tyler's original music video is so easy to make fun of.


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