Evaluation Question 1b) How did you use, develop or challenge genre conventions in your music video?
How did you use, develop,
or challenge genre
conventions in your music
EVALUATION QUESTION 1B
What is genre?
Many scholars have contributed a definition to the word ‘genre’ and an understanding of what it
means is a crucial step in categorizing a media text. For instance, Denis McQuail suggests that genre is
a “practical device for helping any mass medium to produce consistently and efficiently and to relate
to the expectations of its customers.” More over, Jacques Derrida argues that a “text cannot belong to
no genre, it cannot be without a genre. Every text participates in one or several genres, there is no
For our track, ‘Kings’ by Samuel Ford, the genre is Indie Folk, characterised by acoustic guitar/
percussion, vocals, often the piano/ keyboard and other traditional folk instruments. On top of the
music having genre conventions, the music videos for artists within this strand of music also have
typical features, often reinforcing the aspects/ meanings of the music. For an artist/ institution,
meeting the conventions of genres are useful because they can “permit the creation and
maintenance of loyal audience which becomes used to seeing programmes within a genre” but also
so “they can rely on readers already having knowledge and expectations about the works within a
genre” (Christine Gledhill). These quotes suggest that meeting the genre conventions that the
audience expect to see reinforces their support for the artist and makes the product more
entertaining overall. Therefore, we were very keen to use and develop some of the conventions of
indie-folk music videos.
What are the conventions of Indie-Folk
and how did we use them?
The acoustic, raw and simplistic nature of Indie-Folk music is reflected in the music videos for its artists. Tracks often
feature a thin texture, usually a vocal melody with some accompaniment and the provocative instrumentation is paired
with equally poignant lyrics. The emotive sound of the music is reinforced through the conventional features of their
For example, the locations are almost always a natural setting with an emphasis on the environment. This can be seen
across many music videos from this genre, including in Ben Howards ‘Old Pine’ (A) and Fictonian’s ‘Little Blue Book’ (B).
We took inspiration from texts like these and used lots of interesting, natural locations in our production (C) to reflect
the acoustic and organic sound of our track. One online user I found during my research, commented on this genre of
music by stating: “If nature had a voice this is what it would sound like.” (D) and this is shown through the use of natural
locations in music videos like ours.
In addition, music videos from within this genre tend to incorporate a sense of movement or a reoccurring theme of
travel. This can be seen across the work of artists including in the music video for The Lumineers’ ‘Ophelia’ (E) where the
lead singer, Wesley Schultz, leaves a live performance to walk/ dance along the street, closely in sync with the track. This
can also be seen in the brilliant music video for Bon Iver’s ‘Holocene’ where a small boy wakes up and walks across very
scenic locations (F). These themes are common in these music videos as they re-emphasize the emotive, up-lifting and
reflective sound of the tracks. Seeing someone walk/ run/ cycle alone through a natural environment, evokes deep
thought/ emotion, consolidating the feel of the music. This conventional idea of a ‘journey with the music’ is one we
used during our music video production (G) as the characters travel throughout the video and the plot develops in time
with the track – i.e. the climax of the song is paired with the climax of the narrative.
What are the conventions of Indie-Folk
and how did we use them?
The poignant lyrics and inspirational music typical of this genre is reflected in music videos as
they usually only include very few characters. This is to reinforce the personal, emotive feel of
the track. Examples of music videos from artists within this genre that use very few characters
include Tenterhook’s ‘Go Easy’ (H) which features two characters in a relationship, so the
audience builds up a close relationship, with the help of the tone of music, to these two on
screen. In addition, the music video for The Head and the Heart’s ‘Lost in My Mind’ (I) only
features the band members as they walk across natural locations before singing/ playing along
with the track. Again this is done to reinforce the intimate associations of this genre and to build
up a close relationship between the audience and the characters on screen, or in this case the
We used this convention as we similarly only cast two characters, Samuel and Lucy (J), to create
a personal feel to the music video and immerse the audience further in the narrative. We named
the male character Samuel to contribute even more to the development of a relationship
between the audience and our artist.
What are the challenges to it?
Music videos from this genre are very often narrative music videos, i.e. the audience follows characters as a story is
constructed. However, more and more artists are drifting away from a strict narrative music video (typical of this genre),
and challenging it by include some/ all performance scenes, more frequently seen in other genres like Heavy Metal/ Rock
(K). Either, the performance elements are incorporated with other shots of the artist (often travelling through natural
locations), are lip synced by the characters, or just make up the entire video. This is done perhaps to help the audience
“derive pleasure from observing how the conventions of the genre are manipulated” (Steve Neale). The music video for
Benjamin Francis-Leftwich’s ’Shine’ is a good example of one which challenges conventions by including shots of natural
locations/ the artist, as well as performance shots (L). Furthermore, the music video for The Lumineers ‘Ho Hey’ is
another example of how genre conventions are beginning to be challenged as it features a combination of performance
and narrative shots (M).
However, as the “boundaries between genres are shifting and becoming more permeable” (Nicholas Abercrombie),
some artists have began to produce entirely performance music videos for their tracks. For example the video for
Daughter's ‘Youth’ (N) features the band playing the track in a darkly lit room. Others have created videos using footage
of a live performance, like for Mumford & Son’s ‘I Will Wait’ (O). We didn’t use any performance elements in our music
video because we wanted to firmly establish our up and coming artist within the genre of their music video, and thus,
sought to create one very typical of an Indie-Folk artist. However, on reflection, a stronger relationship between the
audience and the music video could have been created if the character of Samuel, representing our artist Samuel Ford,
lip synced along with the track. In this instance, we have used conventions of the genre as we used a typical format.
However, some may argue we simultaneously challenged it as we haven’t conformed to the “Constant process of
negotiation and change” (David Buckingham) within this genre, by featuring some performance elements.