Friday, 4 September 2009

Textual analysis of a music video

This summer I went to see an album samping in London. Imogen Heap! She is has just recently released her new album and a single complete with video. She is quite kooky and different in my opinion, so here is First Train Home, by Imogen Heap.

@Elegie_'s #heaptweetup photoset@Elegie_'s #heaptweetup photoset

The video opens with a very interesting close-up of Imogen looking through a transparent circle. A different way to open a music video, in my opinion. The camera then cuts to a close-up of what's on the other side. A point of view shot for the audience. This shot beautifully matches the opening lyric "bodies disengage..."
As she begins to sing, the camera pans out, making her face smaller and smaller. To me it seems that right away Heap is challenging the hegemonic values of miming in a music video. In most videos, usually the singer just sings to the camera. In this case, she is not actually interacting with the audience. The transparent object is like a barrier almost, keeping the audience intriguid.
Before she interacts with the audience, we are shown one last point of view shot of the bodies disengaging. There is a bright fade out and the audience have broken the barrier and are now in the picture. The people are repeated and blurry tieing in to the opening lyric of the next verse

"it's just an echo game...". She begins to mime directly to the audience, and the camera switches between her and the people.

"The urge to feel your face, and blood rushing to paint. My handprint". When it comes to her handprint, she mimes slightly aggressively, as she passes the camera.

The end of the second verse is built up of different cut-up angles of Imogen lip syncing. As the chorus starts, she begins to run. A sense of rush is built up, "first train home, I've got to get on it".

"Temporal deadzone, where clocks are barely breathing. Yet no-one cares to notice, for all the yelling, all night clamour to hold it together"

As she sings about no-one taking any notice, the walls that surround her move closer away. The use of the word 'clamour' anchors the idea of rushing.

"I want to run in fields, paint the kitchen and love someone"

As Imogen sings about her desires, the walls close in on her playing on the idea that perhaps she hasn't got enough time, and she is rushing to do all these things before the walls close in on her.
This idea is then anchored by: "No I can't do any of that here, can I?" As that lyric ends with a retorical question, it seems Imogen is telling the audience and perhaps if she was speaking in conversation she would expect you to agree.
She then breaks out of the box and continues to run as we return to the chorus.

"So what?"
Towards the end of the video, she seems a little frustrated as she runs around, sings to the camera, leans against a wall in a fed-up manor and waves her hands around sarcastically.

"What matters to you, doesn't matter, matter to me. What matters to me, doesn't matter, matter to you. What matters to you, doesn't matter matter to them. What matters to them, doesn't change anything"
There is something quite playful about the ending of this video. She watches herself running around, a point of view shot shows her playing with the circle in a hamster-like way. As the camera cuts between shots of her laying down in the circle and her playing with it, an idea is built up that other people's opinions do not matter. As she picks up the circle like a box, she goes home.

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