Aaron Brookes - Polaroids (Music Video)

Music Video Textual Analysis

Kelly Rowland - Stole (2002)


Will Smith - Men In Black


I am analysing two music video’s .The first is Kelly Rowland – Stole, which was directed by Sanaa Hamri. She is one of the few female music video directors and has also directed videos for the likes of Jay Z and Christina Aguilera. I am also analysing Will Smith’s – Men in Black which was directed by Robert Caruso who is also a film director. Both music videos belong to the same genre of music of pop, but I believe that they are different kinds of pop, Kelly Rowland – Stole I think can fall into a soul pop genre of song, while Will Smith is solely pop. I believe this to be true as Kelly Rowland has a more of gritty video and is more hard hitting. It is not like a common pop song it is more of a rap or hip-hop song, showing the streets and the ghettos and ghetto schools deals with hard hitting things such as shootings in schools and underage pregnancy and violent and abusive home lives in the lyrics in the actual song, soul tends to be more meaningful than pop songs that are primarily there to sell records, this soul/RnB song has a meaning in the lyrics and a message to send, this can be related to other RnB singers such as 2Pac’s – Brenda’s got a baby. While Will Smith on the other hand uses SFX aliens and has a number of dance routines, clips from the film Men in Black and even a cameo of Tommy Lee Jones. It almost has a comical feel good vibe which is common in pop songs and fits the genre better. It could also be put in the genre of soundtrack music as it is advertising Men in Black the film which was released just after this music video had come out and was also featured in the actual film.

I believe Men in black to be a performance video which is common in pop songs. It uses the normal conventions of a pop song, dance routines and a lot of camera time on the artist and some use of special effects or setting’s to capture the audience’s attention it doesn’t really have any main story to the lyrics of the song. But the lyrics in the song are talking about what the MIB do in their work referring to being “the galaxy defenders” and “we’re your first, last and only line of defence against the worst scum of the universe” these lyrics are amplified with Will Smith cutting to clips of him shooting aliens. On contrast to this music video, Kelly Rowland’s – Stole is all about the lyrics in the song. This is where the two videos contrast one being a performance and the other being a narrative. Kelly Rowland’s – Stole music video relates directly to the lyrics of her song, in the video she shown as unseen character singing to the audience explaining the story almost like a story teller. Although some parts of will smith – men in black relate to the lyrics as whole it is predominantly a performance video. Kelly Rowland describes what’s happening in the scene through the lyrics it also has almost thoughts from the characters in the scene in her lyrics what they were thinking in their heads for example “now, I wish I woulda talked to him give him the time of day not turn away, if woulda been the one to maybe go this far he might have stayed at home playing angry chords on his guitar” it almost sounds like a diary entry centred on the main character in the story the girl. The stole music video is almost like a mini film or short story, it starts with the kid getting up for school with Kelly in the background singing along to the scene, it uses lots of mid shots and close ups to show the kids emotionless face while he walks to the school and then down a corridor however in the actually lyrics it says that he “walks through that classroom door” (apparently at the release of this video, shootings had taken place in a high school in America where a classroom of students where killed by another pupil, Kelly Rowland reportedly changed the video so that it did not bare relation to the crime, hence maybe why the stories of the video and lyrics don’t match up completely).The song then cleverly almost uses a flash back and cuts to Mary who walks down the same corridor, to hear the guy shot she walks in to find him dead. The lyrics then describe how Mary has been affected by what she saw which changed her life, so it would seem in the lyrics again. It uses cut screens to Kelly Rowland sitting at a desk in a classroom this could have been the desk of the boy who had killed himself.

The song doesn’t really change pace throughout and it is pretty slow, which I think was done to help get the point across of the song. It uses flashback scenes to show the kid being bullied at school by others, but the focus point is Mary with the lyrics saying “now, I wish I woulda talked to him give him the time of day not turn away, if woulda been the one to maybe go this far he might have stayed at home playing angry chords on his guitar”. Throughout the videos it uses close ups of Kelly singing, and in one particular shot she is actually crying which I think helps to show the emotion in the music video. In contrast to the Will Smith video and men in black they use lots of quick cuts and dissolves to emphasize the quicker pace of the song. It uses mid shots with Will Smith which is common in a performance video to show a lot of the artist. The editing in Will Smith’s – Men in Black is very choppy with straight cuts from close ups too mid shots to long shots every 2-3 seconds I think this is to go with the pace of the song, keep the audience entrained with the frames changing. On the other   Kelly Rowland’s – Stole has a slower pace to its editing, as it is telling a story It wouldn’t seem right if it was cut every two seconds like the Will Smith video as this is a narrative video not a performance video, also the song it’s self is rather slow so having it cut quickly wouldn’t suit the song right. Most of the editing is done with Kelly and The story like she is the story teller and showing you her story. Cutting from close ups to her to then the actual story.
In the videos I don’t believe they are trying to sell themselves to be on sexual display, as I do not think that they have been made in this way. Kelly Rowland wanted to promote a message and Will Smith his new film, so it doesn’t really have any big references to sexual display as it would be rather distasteful. The record company in Will Smiths – men in black are very much selling him and the movie “Men in Black” is using clips from the film and a cameo from Jaime Lee Jones to attract the audience to watch the music video. It also uses special-effects which would not have been seen in music videos, back then for example the CGI alien dancing with Will Smith, which I think helps to sell the track. The image of the artist at the beginning makes him look like a serious character dressed in all black suit and ray bans to hide his eyes. Also using a low angle shot when he enters the building makes him look powerful. He then starts to relax when you see him cut to a walk through where he starts to dance, which makes him look like a funny guy and the dance routine at the end then makes you think that he is not serious at all. Wearing a suit and dancing with an alien makes him look almost comical. This in relation to his older music videos is a little more serious but they both bear the same comical performance and tone to them.

The video uses lots of props from the film Men in Black, which again I think helps to sale the music video as a whole package. While on the other hand Kelly Rowland’s – Stole sells the track by telling a real message to people, it is rather extreme for a pop video compared to others, but I think that the record company wanted to sell Kelly as a strong woman. As this was her first break away music video from her former band destiny’s child, the record company may have illustrated this music video like this as a lot of people can relate to being bullied at school it also has references to teenage pregnancy and also gang violence which is very close to some peoples real lives. The image I get of a Kelly Rowland is that she is almost angelic in the video for example at the end she is dressed in all white and there is a light shinning down on her, she looks like a story teller how she is presented throughout the track. Also the clothes Kelly Rowland are rather significant at the start as her top has both an image of Notorious B.I.G and Tupac who both lost there life to gang violence and both were at war with each other it was said she wore this as their lives were stolen, which I think is another message the video is trying to get across, in all I think the video is almost selling a message of peace in my mind with the quote at the end “think before you act”.

To conclude I believe the purpose of Will Smiths – Men in Black is primarily to promote the film Men in Black, the audience would be teenagers/young adults as he would have been known around the time for such TV shows as the Fresh Price of bell air which was a smash hit. It could also be people interested in the movie as I think this came out before the movie so it gave people a taste of some clips to wet their appetite. The actually beat in the song itself could also get people’s attention as the beat used in the song is from an older club classic which adults might associate with ( Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots). The genre of music is most definitely a pop video. It does exactly what a pop music video is suppose to do entertain. While on the other hand Kelly Rowland’s – Stole I think holds a different purpose it’s too lunch her as a solo artist but I also think she wanted to make this video to promote a message that she held close to her hearts and many others have in their lives. The audience her video is predominately teenagers as the whole storyline is about teenage life really, as a successful music video I think it promotes a good message and has helped Kelly to become known in her own persona. So As a whole I think they are both very effective in what they are achieving to do one to promote a film and one to promote a message and a solo Artist.


Patrice Rushen - Forget Me Nots ( Uses same beat as Men In Black)