creativity vs cash (1)

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What Makes a Music Video: Creativity vs. Cash at the VMAs

26 Aug , 2015  

Edmund Benson
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Edmund Benson

Online Marketing Strategist at ProAdviser Australia
Part of the awesome ProAdviser team. Economics major at the University of Sydney. Lover of Innovation Tech, US Sports and World Travel.
Edmund Benson
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With MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) coming up this Sunday it’s time for us to look at what makes some music videos so successful. Does investing more money lead to success? Or is it about creativity and innovation? Let’s break some of the music videos in contention for awards this weekend to work out what makes them stand out from the pack.


  1. 7/11 – Beyoncé

A.K.A. “How to make millions by dancing in front of your GoPro …if you’re Beyoncé”

We are kicking this off with Beyoncé’s simple yet effective music video for 7/11. Filmed predominantly on GoPro, the home-made style of this feature sees Beyoncé dancing in various locations through what looks like a hotel suite. I’m feeling a throwback to 2012 Justin Bieber (Beauty and a Beat) with the whole GoPro selfie thing but unlike Bieber, Beyoncé is flawless. But why make such a simple video? Although Beyoncé has the money for crazy production value, innovation and creativity are what stand out in the current generation of music videos. Disagree? Well try arguing with her nominations for ‘Video of the Year, ‘Best Female Video’, ‘Best Pop Video’, ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Editing’ at this years VMAs. Goes to show you don’t need boatloads of cash to make it big.


  1. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

A.K.A. “Ed Sheeran, in the ballroom, with a camera”

Next up we dive into the ballroom to watch Ed Sheeran waltz his night away with professional dancer Brittany Cherry. The entire ‘Thinking Out Loud’ clip is filmed in a single ballroom setting (which turns out to be the Tiffany Room at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles), using only lighting changes and camera pans for variation. Usually in scenes like this, different camera angles disguise the artist’s ballroom blunders, but the video actually shows that Sheeran can pull off some moves. Like 7/11, the simplicity and creativity of this clip give it the edge, leading to its nominations for ‘Video of the Year’, ‘Best Male Video’, ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Pop Video’.


  1. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno

A.K.A. “That song that’s on the radio …again”

From dancing in the ballroom to dancing on the streets, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ hit single “Uptown Funk” was one of the most critically acclaimed songs of 2014. But how does it rate as far as music videos go? Just like the song, the Uptown Funk film clip is colourful, lively and charismatic and Ronson doesn’t spare expense on the production quality. To be frank, I’m going to say whilst a lot has been invested in this music video, the success of the hit is really carried by the musical innovations of Ronson and Mars in the single itself. Uptown Funk is in the running for ‘Video of the Year’, ‘Best Male Video’, ‘Best Pop Video’, ‘Best Collaboration’ and ‘Best Direction’.


  1. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar

A.K.A. “How to get your friends to do your work for you”

Finally, let’s go to the end of the spectrum with Taylor Swift’s video for ‘Bad Blood’. Oh my god, this is a star studded cast if ever I saw one! Taylor Swift joins forces with Kendrick Lamar, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Ellie Goulding, Hayley Williams and Jessica Alba – just to name a few – in this dystopian adventure. Production value and celebrity faces are the names of the game here, but I have to admit it’s kind of cute that each cameo artist got to choose their own ‘stage name’ for this film. Bad Blood is up for ‘Video of the Year’, ‘Best Collaboration’, ‘Best Art Direction’, ‘Best Cinematography’, ‘Best Direction’, ‘Best Editing’ and ‘Best Visual Effects’.


From cheap GoPro selfies in Beyonce’s ‘7/11’ to the gloss and glam of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ there are a variety of films in the running for the VMAs this year. Will raw creativity and talent outshine production value? Or are celebrity cameos and special effects just too exciting for the masses?

Which video do you think deserves to win this year? Let me know in the comments below.

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