Yes, Popular Music Can Be Nuanced

WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO EXPRESS THINGS WITH METAPHORS AND MUCH MORE SUBTLETY, THAT’S WHEN YOU ARE DOING YOURSELF A DISSERVICE BY MAKING A VIDEO. — GEORGE MICHAEL

Editor’s Note: The 1960s television series Gilligan’s Island is mentioned in this blog post. This post was written before we were notified that actress Dawn Wells had passed. There was no intention to disparage the show or her performance.

R.I.P. Dawn Wells

I found the above quote online. You can interpret the statement however you want, but any of us who have seen many music videos — and thought carefully afterward — know it isn’t always true.

The video of She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5 (2002) was an example of a story much different — although equally fascinating — being produced after a song’s lyrics were complete. Kelly Preston portrayed a character who wasn’t mentioned in the lyrics, but in the course of a few minutes her presence changed the entire scenario. She brought additional depth to a song which already went over the heads of people who don’t listen to lyrics.

Another example is White Light by George Michael (2012). Mr. Michael began work on writing that song shortly after he recovered from a severe case of pneumonia, and as the work progressed he explored topics not directly related to surviving illness. He never gave up subtlety, though. You could have written an entire dissertation (well, at least a 1,000 word essay) on White Light after watching the video.

I won’t include links here, but you can find the authorized YouTube uploads easily by going to YouTube’s site.

Some entertainment allows us to relax and not think. However, each time we do that, we risk missing something. Gilligan’s Island reruns may be an easy refuge for shutting down our intellects without having anything get past us, and there are times when we need a non-thinking outlet. We do artists — and ourselves — a disservice when we make a habit of being spoon fed, though.

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