We live in a terrible time for music.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to have this huge, unending virtual mall where all the free music is instantly available and where you are also sometimes offered videos of people having intercourse in lots of neat ways. But at the same time, the fact that there is such a ridiculously large amount of available content makes bands start pulling gimmicks out of their asses to get their music noticed.
In this please-oh-please-click-my-link age of digital music, bands do a lot of wacky things to “go viral,” “stay connected with their online fanbases,” “synergize outside the box,” and a bunch of other meaningless buzzphrases that have absolutely nothing to do with making music. If the Internet was a real place, it would be Times Square at rush hour and bands would be the guy decked out in head-to-toe neon bodypaint screaming about his magic wand until people gave him change.
But by far, one of the stupidest promotional things bands do to get their content noticed is the waste of YouTube space known as the lyric video. I don’t mean lyric videos that 13-year-old fans make for fun. I mean lyric videos that bands or labels release themselves.
The main problem with lyric videos is that they are brain cell-killingly pointless. If you are so proud of your song that you think it merits the bandwidth and people’s time, make a real video. Millions of kids watched Kurt Cobain smash his guitar in a smokey gym full of anarchist cheerleaders in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and started their own bands. I’m pretty sure no one’s ever watched a bunch of 3-dimensional words flying at them and was inspired enough to put a band together.
When a band releases a lyric video, they are basically admitting that they make music for Twitter-obsessed tweens who have the attention spans of goldfish. A song is an art form, one meant to be digested and analyzed forever and ever. If you beat people over the head with a lyric video as if they are mindless invalids, you are basically reducing your “art” to a 4-minute soundbite. You might as well turn your song into a gif (which bands have done).
The other obnoxious thing about lyric videos is that they seem to be reserved for the most talentless, barely literate bands that have a tenuous grasp on the English language and a basic understanding of iMovie. Here are some words of wisdom from a lyric video by a band called These Hearts, for example:
“I'm miserable/ Like there's a part of me missing/ My thoughts and actions are contradicting”
Wow, These Hearts, congrats on mastering the subtle nuances of the concept of rhyming and having the poetic skills of freshman in an introductory-level creative writing course at a community college.
Here’s another from Hawthorne Heights, who embedded the words to the lyric, “As the white flag begins to fly…” on top of a white flag. DO YOU GET IT?:
And one more from Killswitch Engage who manage to repeat the line “I am with you always” about 9,000 times while at the same time making us feel like we’re trapped in a level of DOOM:
Watching lyric videos feels like watching that asshole in college who would make Powerpoint presentations with every single word he’s saying on the screen. Yes, we can hear you and we can read. Either lose the Powerpoint and speak or shut up and let us read.
Worse than the bands are the enablers—the semi-notable music blogs and websites who post lyric videos as if they are actual news. Guess what. Lyric videos are not news. Incidentally, neither are the unveilings of album tracklistings or announcements that bands are working on new material. Of course they are. That’s what bands fucking do. Please learn to differentiate what constitutes “news” and what constitutes “a gigantic promotional circle jerk.”
So, bands, either shit or get off the pot with your videos. If you want people to respect your art, either make a real music video or, CRAZY IDEA, don’t make a video at all. Either way, just put an end to this terrible fad.
But hey, congrats on all your Tumblr likes!