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Many music video ideas are recycled and repeated, some more than others. This is a list of some less common but still recyclable concepts, motifs, visual flourishes, sight gags and camera tricks.
Showing what goes on behind the scenes at a concert or similar live performance. Particularly popular among hard rock acts.
- Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
- Bon Jovi, "Livin' On A Prayer"
- Phil Collins and Philip Bailey, "Easy Lover": shows the two preparing for an appearance on an Ed Sullivan-type television show.
- Foo Fighters, "Big Me"
- Danger Mouse, "The Grey Video": a video for the song Encore off of Danger Mouse's Grey Album.
- Morningwood, "Best of Me"
- Disturbed, "Down with the Sickness", at least partially.
All or portions of the video are done in reverse. Usually, although not always, makes use of how strange setting things on fire, getting really dirty, or smashing your guitar look when played backwards. Sometimes the singer will lip synch backwards, still others try to mime playing their instruments backwards as well, which looks totally wrong more often than not.
- Mute Math, "Typical"
- Jack Johnson, "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing"
- The Matches, "Chain Me Free"
- Remy Zero, "Save Me" (yes, the Smallville theme song)
- Coldplay, "The Scientist"
- The ending of ""Weird Al" Yankovic's "Amish Paradise"
- Nine Inch Nails, "Deep"
- Theory of a Deadman, "Not Meant To Be"
- Enigma, "Return to Innocence"
- Linkin Park, "Bleed It Out"
- Embrace, "Ashes"
- Elio e le Storie Tese, "Mio cuggino". They even acknowledge this in the beginning of the video, by saying it was filmed in "IndietroScope" (indietro means "backwards" in Italian). It is also lip-synched backwards.
- God Lives Underwater, "From Your Mouth": The entire video consists of reversed footage of one man eating.
- The Pharcyde, "Drop". The group performs the entire song backwards, and shows what getting 100 gallons of water dumped on you looks like in reverse.
- David Cook, "Come Back To Me"
- Cibo Matto, "Sugar Water" runs backwards AND forwards on opposite sides of the screen and briefly joins up in the middle. One side is flipped so it take a while to work out what's happening.
- Hammerfall, Any Means Neccesary is a clever variant.
- Self, Could You Love Me Now
- The David Bowie videos "Let's Dance" and "China Girl" both have brief but significant segments involving this.
- Def Leppard, "Two Steps Behind"
- Nelson, "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection"
- Peter Bjorn and John, "Second Chance"
- Keith Urban, "Days Go By" (bridge only)
- Def Leppard, "Me And My Wine"
- Queen, "I Want To Break Free" (specifically an homage to Coronation Street)
- Twisted Sister, "We're Not Gonna Take It"
- Cyndi Lauper, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
- David Bowie does this in both videos from 1999's hours... In "Thursday's Child", he and his current lover are getting ready for bed when in the bathroom mirror he sees a reflection of his younger self and an old lover. In "Survive", he broods alone in a cluttered kitchen, presumably over the breakup described in the song -- and then gravity goes askew.
Dance Hall Daze
Filmed in a dance studio, ball room, etc., with an appropriate corps of dancers snapping to the beat.
- Fittingly, Wang Chung, "Dance Hall Days"
- Paula Abdul, "Cold Hearted Snake"
- Peter Cetera/Amy Grant, "Next Time I Fall"
- Kate Bush, "Rubberband Girl"
- David Bowie, "Never Let Me Down"
- One Republic, "All The Right Moves"
- Def Leppard (again), "Hysteria" -- although it's in a train station, people are dancing cheek-to-cheek
- Nicola Roberts, "Beat of My Drum"
- Beyonce, "Love on Top"
- Beyonce, "Countdown"
Dancing In The Street
The Music Video equivalent to Crowd Song features crowds of random people "spontaneously" stepping into a full dance routine with the artist (usually a solo female R&B singer) in such unlikely locations as an inner city street, a high school hallway, a car park, or even the middle of a gang war. Sometimes uses a Carnivale-style free-for-all approach; but more often than not, full and complex choreography is employed.
- Many, many videos by Janet Jackson.
- Her brother Michael tweaked it a bit; his version featured dancing zombies. Not to mention that one with the gang war.
- The end of Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money" features this as a Dream Sequence.
- Ironically, David Bowie and Mick Jagger's video for "Dancing In The Street" featured only the two of them.
- Billy Joel's "A Matter Of Trust" uses the Carnivale approach.
- Parodied in Marianas Trench's "Shaketramp" where the first half is the typical form of this in old musical stlye but after getting hit in the head the lead singer is trasported to a modern times version of the same street where the locals aren't as willing to join in.
- Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet".
- "Dr Love" by Bumblebeez, where the dancers are largely shirtless older men with elaborate magic marker tattoos. Reportedly the band recruited homeless people, who got money and a free meal for their efforts.
- Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." Okay, the "street" was a stage set, but still.
- Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield". What a great way to fight off a pimp!
- Subverted in "Lucky Day" by Nicola Roberts. For most of the video, Nicola is prancing around New York with no real choreography to it, and then for a few inexplicable moments, two dancers pop out of nowhere and begin dancing with her. And then they leave again.
- Feist's "Mushaboom" starts with Leslie Feist waking up in her apartment and singing along to the song itself playing on the radio as she prepares for her day (which may or may not raise the Celebrity Paradox question). Then her toast pops out of the toaster and flies out of the window, she flies out after it, and a parade of people start dancing along behind her as she sings and plays guitar.
This video shows the band using a "classic" rehearsal space such as a garage, warehouse, maybe even a spare bedroom. Real big with young or just-starting-out hard rock bands, or with older bands looking to reconnect to such times.
- Metallica's "One", between clips from the movie Johnny Got His Gun, showed the band in a warehouse. An alternate version removed the film clips.
- Trixter, "Give It To Me Good"
- The Offspring, "Can't Repeat"
- Orange, "No Rest For The Weekend"
- Bowling for Soup's 1985 video is this with references to famous video tropes and bands.
- Billy Talent, "River Below"
- The Smithereens, "Blood & Roses"
- No Doubt's "Don't Speak" alters between this, the Performance Video and photo-session scenes.
- Weezer, "Say It Ain't So"
- My Chemical Romance did this in "I'm Not Okay" in between clips of high school shenanigans.
In The Studio
Footage of the artist actually recording the song in a studio. Can be actual documentary-style footage, a reinactment or a completely fictitious turn.
- Aerosmith, "What It Takes"
- Def Leppard used a fantasy-like, stylized interpretation of this for "Love Bites".
- After years of decrying trite video concepts, and after exactly three original videos of their own, Metallica quickly fell into this cliche with "Nothing Else Matters".
- Kyle Minogue's video for "Locomotion" included a brief scene In The Studio.
- Bon Jovi's "Born To Be My Baby", accentuated by manipulating the soundtrack to actually sound like a mixer changing and testing the various instruments' levels.
- Audioslave's "Like a Stone" and "Revelations"
- Nickelback's "If Everyone Cared"
- Los Campesinos!' "Death to Los Campesinos"-- though with the absolutely awesome twist of the band being attacked by kittens, unicorns, rainbows and confetti during the recording session. Yes, I'm serious.
- Rush's studio videos for "Limelight" and "Tom Sawyer".
- Julian Lennon's "Valotte" and "Too Late For Goodbyes." Not only were they essentially the same video with minor variations, they were released one after the other, and they were both directed by Sam Peckinpah.
- Blind Guardian's "Mirror Mirror" does this, combined with clips of the band members playing video games, getting into snowball fights, etc.
- An early example: the promo film for "Lady Madonna" shows The Beatles in the studio, but we don't actually see them performing the song. That's because it was filmed while they were recording "Hey Bulldog." Several decades later Apple used the same footage and put together a video for "Hey Bulldog."
- New Order, "The Perfect Kiss". Interesting because the band prefers their videos to be extremely strange and surreal.
- Arctic Monkeys, "Teddy Picker"
- Parodied in a scene in Ben Folds Five's "Rockin The Suburbs", in which director "Weird Al" Yankovic adjusts the settings in post-production so that the song doesn't suck. (Literally. There's two sets of faders labeled "Suck" and "Rock".)
- A Perfect Circle, "Judith"
- Queen's "One Vision"
- Hall & Oates, "Go Solo"
- The Hold Steady's "Stuck Between Stations", though it seems to be set in a home recording studio. With bookends showing that apparently they've been re-recording the song over and over again for every cassette copy of it ("I don't understand why we can't just get these dubbed!").
- USA (United Support of Artists) for Africa in We Are the World, showing the soloists assembling around microphones, and then on the chorus, together with the choir of other big names, all in the studio. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, it included such names as Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon. The choir itself also featured the other Jacksons, the Pointer Sisters, and even Dan Aykroyd.
- In the same vein, Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas."
- "Sex Crime (1984)" by Eurythmics
- The videos for The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Spirits Of The Material World" feature this. "Magic" does cut between "studio" shots and random shots of the band cavorting around Martinique, but everyone who's seen the video chuckles at the sequence in the studio with Andy Sumner mugging for the camera while Sting sings "Must I alllll-waaaaaaays beeeeee aaaaaaaa-LOOOOOOOOOONE...."
- Eddie Murphy's "Party All The Time"
- The basic plot of Matthew Sweet's "We're the Same"
- Florence and the Machine's "What The Water Gave Me."
- ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme".
Another one popular with the Hard Rock crowd, this setting seems dependent on the theme of disorganization or destruction (yes, even the construction sites). Often with random fires scattered about, usually at night.
- Tesla, "No Way Out"
- Britny Fox, "Long Way To Love"
- The British-only video for Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" featured a house being demolished -- with the band inside.
- Green Day, "Brainstew".
- Testament, "Trial by Fire"
- "Teutonic Terror" by Accept
- Slipknot's "Psychosocial"
Yet another popular one for hard rockers in the late 1980s was to film on top of a skyscraper overlooking a cityscape. And yes, it's usually night.
- Guns N' Roses, "Don't Cry"
- Great White, "The Angel Song"
- Jonas Brothers, "L.A. Baby"
- Most of the 2nd video for Hall & Oates' "Say It Isn't So", filmed in New York.
- Hurricane, "Over The Edge"
- U2, "Where The Streets Have No Name"
- Which they infamously filmed without permits. The LAPD were not amused.
- Limp Bizkit, "Rollin'", though it was actually from atop one of the twin towers. Disturbingly, the band was sent a thank-you letter from the tower on September 10, 2001.
- Toto, I'll Be Over You. Subverted at the end, when it starts raining.
- Parodied in Simple Plan's "Perfect," which takes place on a rooftop...of a suburban home.
- Icehouse's "Crazy" did this on a high-rise in Sydney.
The Making Of The Video
Similar to In The Studio, this one is behind the scenes of the video itself. Most videos will tastefully limit this to a few scenes.
- Genesis, "I Can't Dance"
- Debbie Gibson, "Electric Youth"
- Flaming Lips, "Sponge Bob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy"
- Parodied in Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl": we are on the set of a video, but instead of Jackson in action a bunch of famous visiting folks (even Weird Al!) are trying to figure out where Michael actually is as the song plays. Turns out he's the one filming them.
- Also parodied in Phil Collins's "Don't Lose My Number", where various possible concepts (and subsequent behind the scenes) for the song video clip are shown; some of them are parodies of well-known music videos and films.
- Steve Perry's "Oh Sherrie" is supposedly filmed during a break from the filming of a different music video.
- Parodied in Wall of Voodoo's surreal video for "Mexican Radio". A brief long shot of the soundstage, just over two-thirds of the way through, shows the band continuing to play as the dissatisfied director calls 'cut' and orders the crew to break for lunch.
- Cobra Starship's video for "Guilty Pleasure."
- Aqua's Bumble Bees is another parody. The director with a thick French accent proposes three concepts: an Animated Music Video with Aqua as CG bugs (obviously inspired by A Bugs Life), a weird Hot for Teacher clip (with the faces of Aqua's male members creepily superimposed on kids' bodies), and Aqua in silly and extremely cheap bug costumes.
- Parodied in Alan Jackson's "That'd Be Alright", where a crew decides to accept Alan's sarcastic suggestion to film a music video without him. Eventually, this leads to them trying to find look-a-likes, Syncro-Voxing previous Alan Jackson videos, and even secretly filming him in his personal life.
A hard rock take on Dancing In The Street, this is a simple and intuitive choreography wherein the band members stalk across the stage together, in time to the beat and in step with one another.
- Van Halen, "Best Of Both Worlds"
- Hurricane, "I'm Onto You"
- Non-Music Video example: in The Breakfast Club, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez do this during the "rock out in the library" scene.
- Ok Go's This too Shall Pass Has a Marching band music video, with a Literal Marching band. Even the music is replaced with marching band instruments.
The artist (usually a solo singer) filmed against a featureless, all-white or all-black backdrop. If black, expect a spotlight to travel back and forth across the singer, illuminating her for a second and then plunging her back into darkness. Bonus points if the video is itself Deliberately Monochrome.
- Paula Abdul uses both versions for "Straight Up".
- Many of Jody Watley's videos.
- An unreleased version of Queensrÿche's "Another Rainy Night (Without You)".
- The Police's "Every Breath You Take", spiced up with multiple layers of photography.
- Their video for "Roxanne" is arguably a variant -- it's an all-RED backdrop.
- James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", to some degree: the all-white backdrop is actually a cloudy sky, and James is sitting along a tall boardwalk with white floor.
- Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime" (a Green Screen cornucopia)
- Also, the Picture In Picture in "Road To Nowhere"
- One version of the video for REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" combines this with the "In The Studio" variant.
- Two of the videos My Bloody Valentine made in support of Loveless use this trope :
- "To Here Knows When" is largely random blurry and heavily psychedelicized footage (including a person dancing, mirrored on both sides of the screen, lots of pink filters, and close-up shots of Kevin Shields' guitar), but does take place against a White Void Room backdrop.
- "Soon" is a simple Performance Video, but once again thrown through a ton of blurry filters and taking place in a completely white setting. Also, random shot of Bilinda Butcher dancing.
- And they later re-used this trope for the video for "Swallow", which is, once again, a white background with random blurry footage and lots of pink and other colours bleeding through the filters.
- The official music video for Restart's Signature Song "Recomeçar" has mostly footage of the band performing in front of a white background. Their clothes are white as well, at least until the first chorus begins and the colors kick in. It also gets some Backwards Action (see above) near the end.
- The music video for "Levo Comigo" uses this too, only there the background is black.
- David Bowie did this twice in The Seventies, using all-white voids in "Life on Mars?" and "Be My Wife".
- Rick James' "Superfreak" uses this, with minimal set dressing.
- Arctic Monkeys' "Cornerstone" features just the singer against a white background.
- Beyonce's "Single Ladies"
- For most of both versions of Hall & Oates' "Say It Is't So" videos. Also shortly seen in their video for "Your Imagination" and possibly used in "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and "You Make My Dreams" if you don't count instruments as props.
- Extreme's "Rest in Peace" (the background also strobes between black and white)
- Tyler, The Creator's Yonkers
Movie Tie-In Music Video
Prevalent in the 80's and 90's, movie tie-in music videos were songs from film soundtracks performed by an artist or band -- plus members of a film's cast. This was different (but not mutually exclusive) than a Video Full of Film Clips in that most (or the entirety) of the video had a unique plot (that takes place before, during or after the film), and is intended to be part of the same movie universe or continuity. Although these types of videos were frequent in past years, they are a rarity in the 21st century.
- Robert Englund has appeared in character as Freddy Krueger in several tie-in music videos, including Dokken's "Dream Warriors" from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors (where he appears at the end explaining he just had a nightmare) and The Fat Boys' "Are You Ready For Freddy" (from A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 The Dream Master), where the band inherits a house owned by one of the member's deceased uncles, but it was originally Freddy Krueger's house. Robert Englund appears in character and stalks them around the house. He even raps at one point!
- Michael Jackson's "Childhood" from Free Willy 2 features the child actors from the film singing the chorus to the song while Jackson sings in a forest.
- Queen's "Princes of the Universe" from Highlander includes a swordfight between Freddie Mercury and Christopher Lambert.
- "The Power Of Love" from Back to The Future, performed by Huey Lewis and The News. Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) makes a pit stop at a club to see the band, but someone takes the DeLorean on a joyride while he's watching the performance.
- "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" from Dumb and Dumber, performed by the Crash Test Dummies. Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) foils a robbery while on a trip in Toronto, Canada, and gets a pumpkin stuck on his head in the process.
- Will Smith is a major proponent of this - almost every film he's starred in has an accompanying music video, in which he appears in-character (often with other members of the cast) and directly interacts with the singer (along with clips from the film).
- In Diana King's "Shy Guy" video from 1995's Bad Boys, Smith and Martin Lawrence appear as the two titular cops of the film, reacting to the singer's presence and trying (miserably) to dance to the music.
- Wild Wild West from the 1997 remake of the same name. In the video, Jim West (Smith) pursues a Back From the Dead Dr. Loveless, who has once again kidnapped Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek). Although the music video premiered months before the film came out, it is a semi-sequel to the film, and ignores most of the movie's ending (namely, Rita has apparently left her doctor husband, and Loveless has appeared alive and well without explanation).
- Speaking of Will Smith, his videos for the Men in Black franchise (the self-titled track from the original film and "Nod Ya Head (Black Suits Comin')" from the sequel) features him as J, doing a stage performance together with aliens.
- Due to Mike Myers' role as the film's lead character, many of his appearances in the tie-in videos from the Austin Powers Trilogy fall under this:
- Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger" (from The Spy Who Shagged Me) involves Austin going to a British club to see her perform, and driving her back to his place afterwards.
- The music video for Dr. Evil's "Hard Knock Life" (from Goldmember) shows more of the duo's escape from prison.
- Britney Spears' "Boys" involves Austin trying to dance with the pop singer at an exclusive party.
- Another Britney Spears one is Crazy, in wich the main couple from the movie Drive Me Crazy -Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier- have many cameos.
- MC Hammer's "Addams Family Groove" from The Addams Family, where the singer is tormented by Wednesday and Pugsley. Most of the cast of the film (including Raul Julia, Angelica Huston and Christina Ricci) appear.
- Had child molestation accusations not derailed it, Michael Jackson would have done a similar video for the sequel Addams Family Values ("Is It Scary") in which he would be aided by Wednesday and Pugsley in confronting a mob accusing him of being a freak. He later revived the project as Ghosts in 1997, but dropped the Addams trappings.
- In El Debarge's "Who's Johnny?" from Short Circuit, Stephanie Speck (played by Ally Sheedy) attends a courtroom trial for Johnny 5, who is busy wreaking havoc with his antics while a reel of footage from the film plays in the background. Steve Guttenberg evidently didn't want to take part in the video, because is represented (as a witness on the stand) by a cardboard cut-out.
- Both of the Ghostbusters films include music videos where members of the cast ham it up for the cameras. Ray Parker Jr.'s title theme song had a music video where the titular team dance in Times Square, while Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" (used in the sequel) had various actors (including Rick Moranis as Louis Tully) reacting to ghosts appearing in New York.
- The end credits for Down Periscope include a music video for "In the Navy", with the Village People interacting with the movie's cast, interspersed with some footage from the movie. At various points, star Kelsey Grammer appears in most if not all of the Village People costumes.
- Korn's video for the second Tomb Raider film, Did my time, has Angelina Jolie all dress up in a Lara Croft style having a sort of mental battle with the members of the band.
- A variant of this appears when a musician (or an actor who sings) who has a starring role in a film performs in a music video "in-character", which makes the video an extension of the film's backstory or plot:
- Beyonce performing as Foxxy Cleopatra in "Work It Out" from Austin Powers In Goldmember.
- Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks in the song "City of Crime" from 1990's Dragnet: The Movie, where they reprise their roles as Joe Friday and Pep Streebeck. The duo interrogate criminals, explain the plot of the film through verse and perform ridiculous choreographed dance numbers!
- The entire cast of There's Something About Mary starred in a music video for The Foundations' "Build Me Up, Buttercup". Various cast members lipsync the song in character and perform a grand medley together at the end of the video.
- While he played the movie's villain and had top billing, David Bowie appears as himself in the two videos derived from Labyrinth and the interaction with characters seems to be the result of travel between the "real" world and movie world. In "Underground", his trip into a mysterious alley results in an encounter with Hoggle, the Junk Lady, and company. In "As the World Falls Down", Hoggle is witness to Bowie singing to a portrait of a woman who, elsewhere, falls for a photograph of him.
- In a variant of this, the video for Rascal Flatts' "Life Is a Highway" (from the Cars soundtrack) features Cars footage mixed in with shots of the band singing.
Sending Insightful Messages To Strangers
Self-explanatory. Someone (not necessarily the artist) covertly sends messages to random people. Likely recipients are: Couples, someone who Cannot Spit It Out, a pensive/lonely person, and--if they're not the ones sending the messages--the artist themselves. Can be Anvilicious if laid on too thick, but otherwise a perfectly good concept.
- Rob Thomas' "Ever the Same." The first video to use this concept--and very well. The messenger is a guy and his pigeons, and the recipients include a group of children, an old man, a suicide jumper played by Rob's wife, and Rob himself. Interestingly, the actual messages are never known; we just see the reactions to them.
- Nickelback's "If Today Was Your Last Day." The title alone makes this one of the... less subtle versions.
Tear Down The Walls
Most common in heavy metal videos, this involves someone literally breaking through the wall of the set, usually the guitarist using his "axe" appropriately.
- Accept's, "Balls to the Wall" fits this trope perfectly
- Aerosmith, "Angel"
- In Run DMC's remake of "Walk This Way", Steven Tyler pushed himself through a wall.
- Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" included a scene where he put his guitar through a bathroom vanity. The reason? He wanted the video to include "an action sequence".
- Switchfoot's "Meant To Live" involved the band using power tools to destroy a room. Depending on how you see it, The Power of Rock may have caused a minor earthquake near the middle of the song to help them out.
- In Motorhead's "Killed By Death," Lemmy drives a motorcycle through a wall. They then replay it... in slow motion. He leaves by breaking through the opposite wall.
- In Dokken's "Dream Warriors", the guitarist breaks through a wall playing a blazing solo on a skeleton guitar.
- At the end of "Into the Void" by Nine Inch Nails
- A slight variant appears in the (sadly defunct) hardcore band Snapcase's "Typecast Modulator" video.
- Scar Symmetry has this happen quite a bit in their video for "Morphogenesis."
Shows the artist travelling the world, using exotic locations as backdrops. Sometimes filmed on location (a potentially expensive proposition), sometimes utilizes rear-projected stock footage. A more budget-friendly option is to tour a specific city or similar region, taking in only local monuments.
- Phil Collins, "Take Me Home"
- Huey Lewis and The News, "Heart Of Rock And Roll" (various U.S. locations as called out in the lyrics)
- Randy Newman, "I Love L.A."
- The Killers, "Read My Mind" (various places in Japan, mostly Tokyo)
- Part of Michael Jackson's "Black or White" is a variation where he's clearly on sets but gets down with various dancers of different ethnicities in an "It's a Small World" kind of way.
- The Kooks, "She Moves in Her Own Way"
- Echo & the Bunnymen, "Nothing Lasts Forever" (in and around Marrakech, Morocco)
- Manic Street Preachers, "Motorcycle Emptiness"
- Arctic Monkeys, "Fake Tales of San Francisco"
- Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" was filmed on location in Sri Lanka by Russell Mulcahy.