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Whither the music video?

Country Musings by Robert Loy, July 1997

Hey, how many of y'all remember MTV?

I mean, remember when it used to actually be Music Television? Now you'll find game shows and talk shows and young people with free money and a free beach house in something ironically entitled "The Real World," but you'll see precious few music videos.

What happened?

I'm not sure, but (wouldn't you just know it?) I have a theory. MTV used to be all quick cuts and blonde bimbos, eye candy, nothing challenging. When you pander to those with microscopic attention spans, it's inevitable that sooner or later they're going to switch channels altogether.

What does this have to do with country music? Have you watched CMT lately? Try it sometime and count the number of scenes measured in milliseconds. Count the number of barefoot blonde bimbos. (David Lee Murphy deserves credit in this category; in his "All Lit up in Love" video the blonde doesn't take off her shoes until the video is almost over - now that's daring innovation.) Be advised, however, you'll need a heavy duty calculator for either endeavor.

I'm concerned because I love country videos. I love CMT. I love the fact that they show solely videos. I don't want them to follow down MTV's path. The last thing I want to see is a handful of twenty-something hillbillies in a free double-wide in CMT's version of "The Real World."

But to tell the truth, I am not sure what the point of a video is. Is it just another hawking tool to sell more CDs? Or is it an art form? Is it nothing more than a chance to ogle members of the opposite sex? (Don't be embarrassed. I know every time I see Patty Loveless's red hair and green eyes it feels like Christmas to me.)

Next time we'll talk about some effective videos - and some ineffective ones. And because it's so fun to be nasty, I'll name the worst country video of all time. Til then, consider this - has a video ever convinced you to buy an album? Are there songs you like but hate the accompanying video or vice versa? Talk about this amongst yourselves or talk to me (Sir_Galahad@Juno.com), and we'll compare notes in 60 days.

(By the way, CST has been deluged with letters demanding another "Talk Back to Your Radio" column. (Thanks, Mom.) I'm not ready just yet, but I wanted you to know that every time I hear Tanya Tucker sing about how she loves "The Little Things" I want to ask her if she's referring to little things like a gram of cocaine.)