Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

SOPHIE’s ‘Faceshopping’ as (Anti-)Lyric Video

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2019), 13, (2), 209–230.

Abstract

In previous studies of music video’s semiotic triumvirate of music– image–text, it is most common to focus on the first two and more or less ignore the role played by words – perhaps because lyrics only rarely strike us as the most prominent part of this totality of communicative layers in music video. However, recent years have witnessed the birth of a new music video genre that places a greater emphasis on words than is usually the case, namely the so-called lyric video, that is defined by graphically replicating the sung lyrics as text in the image. This essay traces the development and definition of this particular music video genre, providing theoretical reflections on the role played by words and lyrics in music video in general and in lyric videos in particular. It is argued that lyric videos in fact run counter to what we normally expect of music videos. This is demonstrated through an in-depth analysis of SOPHIE’s ‘Faceshopping’ that reads as a critique of the lyric video genre from within the genre itself. Like this video, the essay maintains that the creative clash between the three different registers of music–image–text is indeed the most fundamental aspect of music video aesthetics.

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References

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Chion, Michel (1994) Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. Trans. and ed. Claudia Gorbman. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Chion, Michel (1999) The Voice in Cinema. Trans. and ed. Claudia Gorbman. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Chion, Michel (2012) ‘100 concepts pour penser et décrire le cinéma sonore’, accessible as a free download if you provide an email address via http://michelchion.com/texts. Also features a translation by Claudia Gorbman under the title ‘100 Concepts to Think and Describe Sound Cinema’ (Accessed: 28 October 2019). Google Scholar

Chion, Michel (2013) ‘The Audio-Logo-Visual and the Sound of Languages in Recent Film’. In: Richardson, John, Gorbman, Claudia & Vernallis, Carol (eds). The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.77–88. Google Scholar

Chion, Michel (2017) Words on Screen. Trans. and ed. Claudia Gorbman. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Cohen, Noam (2010) ‘A Hit Song on YouTube, Unnameable on the Radio’, The New York Times, 30 August. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/business/media/30link.html (Accessed: 28 October 2019). Google Scholar

Gabrielli, Giulia (2010) ‘An Analysis of the Relation Between Music and Image. The Contribution of Michel Gondry’. In: Keazor, Henry & Wübbena, Thorsten (eds). Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, pp.89–110. Google Scholar

Goodwin, Andrew (1993) Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Google Scholar

Greenfield, Patricia M., Bruzzone, Lisa, Koyamatsu, Kristi, Satuloff, Wendy, Nixon, Karey, Brodie, Mollyann & Kingsdale, David (1987) ‘What Is Rock Music Doing the to Minds of our Youth? A First Experimental Look at the Effects of Rock Music Lyrics and Music Videos’, Journal of Early Adolescence, 7 (3), pp.315–329. Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna (1985) ‘Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s’, Socialist Review, 80, pp.65–108. Google Scholar

Jullier, Laurent & Péquignot, Julien (2013) Le clip: historie et esthétique. Paris: Armand Colin. Google Scholar

Korsgaard, Mathias Bonde (2013) ‘Music Video Transformed’. In: Richardson, John, Gorbman, Claudia & Vernallis, Carol (eds). The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.501–521. Google Scholar

Korsgaard, Mathias Bonde (2017) Music Video After MTV: Audiovisual Studies, New Media, and Popular Music. New York and London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Korsgaard, Mathias Bonde (2019) ‘Changing Dynamics and Diversity in Music Video Production and Distribution’. In: Burns, Lori & Hawkins, Stan (eds). The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Video Analysis. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp.13–26. Google Scholar

McLaren, Laura (2019) ‘Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”: The Lyric Video as Genre’. In: Burns, Lori & Hawkins, Stan (eds). The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Video Analysis. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp.163–180. Google Scholar

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Racette, Amélie & Peretz, Isabelle (2007) ‘Learning Lyrics: To Sing or Not to Sing?’, Memory & Cognition, 35 (2), pp.242–253. Google Scholar

Railton, Diane & Watson, Paul (2011) Music Video and the Politics of Representation.Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Google Scholar

Russo, Julie (2009) ‘User-Penetrated Content: Fan Video in the Age of Convergence’, Cinema Journal, 48 (4), pp.125–130. Google Scholar

Vernallis, Carol (2004) Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Wiedeman, Reeves (2015) ‘Genius Idea’, The New York Magazine, 4 January. Available from: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/12/genius-minus-the-rap.html (Accessed: 28 October 2019). Google Scholar

Williams, Kevin (2003) Why I (Still) Want My MTV: Music Video and Aesthetic Communication. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Google Scholar

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‘Wide Awake’ [music video], Katy Perry, Tony Datis, USA, 2012. Google Scholar

‘Wow’ [music video], Beck, Jimmy Turrell, USA, 2017. Google Scholar

‘Ya Hey’ [music video], Vampire Weekend, Greg Brunkalla, UK/USA, 2013. Google Scholar

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Author details

KORSGAARD, MATHIAS BONDE