In response to Jem’s latest Blog on her Video.www.jemcooke.com
Ah yes the music video. I totally get it! It’s where you are asked to arrive at a strange studio, be surrounded by people you have never met, be bossed about by some aspiring just-out-of-art-college director, mime to one of your songs, and move your arms and legs about in a sort of wedding dance routine in order to convince the public that this is better than the live stage version and will promote the song more effectively.
It was great to see a great programme about the legendary Steve Windwood. A profile of an amazing musician; Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and so much more. What was interesting to note, was that despite some incredible material, and stunning vocals, he very rarely looked at the camera, choosing instead to look like he was actually performing the song, and further concentrate on the instrument he was playing. This was definitely the style of the time, and born out of unfamiliarity and possible embarrassment, as much as an attempt at authenticity.
Then, you see Higher Love, which I would imagine is still his greatest pop hit to date, and he’s bouffed, preened, lacquered, and permed, and actually dancing ‘arm-leg-arm-leg’ like someone’s Dad at a family function. I’m not sure that it sold any more because of this rather disconnected presentation but it was certainly something for MTV to play.
I’ve seen the lovely Cliff doing what everyone called his ‘Dog-poo’ dance. I think Brotherhood of Man started it during one totally forgettable Eurovision song contest, by lifting alternate legs to inspect the underside of the shoe, whilst doing various ‘thumbing ups’ with opposite hands? But did this improve the sales anymore? I don’t know, but I doubt it.
Now we have surpassed thankfully the MTV Video and descended into the YT bedroom shabby of videos being done on IPhones and edited in something equally cheap to offer the anti slick reality; the ‘Let’s do it right here, I can look like I’m about to take an overdose’ performance. This is equally uninspiring and, more importantly, meaningless.
What is essential here is honesty and transparency. In a time where ownership is vital, and the fans need to have a little piece of their artist, there is no room for self-consciousness or embarrassment.
Pretend no one is there Jem, and sing your heart out. It’s what you’re great at doing, and the rest is just candied tosh!!
I would love to think that a polished expensive video would make a significant improvement to sales, and that your YouTube presence being further enhanced would lead to a healthy bank balance. Genuinely I would. Goodness knows we need all the help we can get! But so much better to feel confident and happy in yourself and that you are representing the song, the sentiment, and the reason for being, and yourself, rather than trying to fit into a formula that is already out date before the final fade from the mains, and video uploaded.
When YouTube becomes obsolete, perhaps the best way will be to revert to the analogue method and spend more time going to play to the fans live, and finding that they like you so much they willingly pay for what they hear.
Now that is a novel idea. I’ll be there with the large hat!