When I invite people over to my house, I like to show them two things.
1. My Batarangs
2. Powerful Music Videos
For those of you who live outside of my zip code, I can offer you the videos. Here are, what I believe are great music videos with powerful messages. Because there are plenty of videos to choose from, I chose to focus on male artists this time around. I’ll follow up with a sequel of female artists, and then conclude the series with the most powerful music videos of all time. In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy these music videos and comment with some of your own.
Disclaimer: I know these music videos are not without their flaws, and some of their messages can get a little mixed. But overall, I picked videos that had a great impact on you and really tried to get a good message across. Alright, enough of that. Let’s get into:
FIVE POWERFUL MUSIC VIDEOS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
5. Imagine Dragons-Demons
I guarantee that you have heard this song on this radio in the past year. It plays like the typical rock hits of the last year: a catchy chorus, belty lyrics and an emotional crescendo. The music video, however, is a little different than typical rock.
The video starts out at a concert, leaving you thinking it’s as original in that rock music video category as the black eyed peas are to…well any other music. But the tone changes quickly when we zoom in close into a girls’ eyes and see that she’s struggling with the loss of her parents. After a few moments, it zooms back out and eventually into two more perspectives.
The message is simple: Everyone has their own struggles that they deal with. The key to making this video powerful lies in that concert setting. The video could have easily been shot with the band performing elsewhere, with the stories at the forefront. Instead they are depicted as simulataneous. This video effectively says that your problems, your “demons” may even be present while you’re doing something you enjoy. It also says that it’s normal, as it zooms into the bands’ lead vocalist at the end. It may not offer a solution, but makes sure that anyone suffering silently knows that they may not be alone.
4. Ill Mind of Hopsin 5
Many of you may not even have heard of Hopsin, but I’m perfectly okay with introducing you. He is a Los Angeles based rapper known for his strong messages and emphasis on countering popular culture. One of Hopsin’s early hits was “Sag My Pants”, which parodies Soulja Boy, among others. With a bio like that, you can get behind him.
The video sets us in a dark room with several teenage-early twenties stereotypes. They sit around, smoking and drinking like there’s no tomorrow. That’s the set-up before Hopsin knocks all of them down with a furious rant. He laments cultural standards placed on women, black men and even rappers in a relatively short amount of time.
“Do you even have any goals?
Aside from bagging these hoes.
And packing a bowl.
Well let me guess, NO.
You’re only in school because your parents make you go.
When all you do is play beer pong and hang out with your bros.”
This is just a sample of the mostly NSFW lyrics. The messages are again, pretty transparent through the lyrics. At the end of the day, you certainly don’t have to agree with all of his messages or how he states them. But you can’t deny that you leaves you thinking by the time the video’s through. This is tough love−and rap at its finest.
3. You and I
Here’s another song that you probably heard on a loop on the radio this summer. John Legend’s smooth love ballad was just his latest in a series of hits during his career. Even though I was single, I went out and bought chocolates to give them to that special person in my life :).*
*Since I’m single, that would be me.
The music video is a simple setup but tells a much more complex story. We see flashes of women of all ages, sizes and races looking in a mirror. They each see their reflection and have different responses. Some cry, some seem insecure and others are just taking a few minutes to look at themselves. We see a large range of stories in just a few minutes. They are all, in their own ways, beautiful.
The overall message is one of self-acceptance and confidence. Not just of your outward image, but who you are in the world. One of the most striking images comes with an older woman…but I will let you see that moment for yourself. Another thing that is great about this video is that it is so unlike other r and b videos. A good number of them focus around one beautiful woman being romanced by the male singer. “You and I” sets itself apart simply by making the bold choice to feature many more beautiful women.
2. Make It Stop
Rise Against is no stranger to making songs that revolve around powerful messages. It was so easy to find meaningful songs from this group that they could have their own list! But for fairness sake’, I just let them have one.
Make It Stop is pretty straightforward. It follows three teenagers in high school as they struggle with bullying. The reasons are not explicitly clear, but you can draw some of your own conclusions. Meanwhile, we see clips of Rise Against playing. The most stirring of these images is the lead singer holding up names of kids who have committed suicide while saying them slowly. And to compound this all, we see a series of “get better videos” from various sources. It’s a combo of real, orchestrated and heartfelt.
The message is shining and clear: It gets better. Similarly to Demons, the song does not pretend that there won’t be struggles. You will doubt yourself, and may even doubt that your situation will improve. It’s up to you to take your life within your own hands. You have to find the strength to go on*. This is a message that doesn’t limit itself to just bullying, but does a damn good job at striking out against it.
*Strength to go on is, coincidentally, another rise against song. ;D
1. We Exist
Arcade Fire rounds up this list. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about them before this song. But I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to.
The video revolves around a man who dresses like a woman to go to the bar in a small town. I am oversimplifying the story, but that’s just so I don’t want to ruin anything. Honestly, see it for yourself. Did I mention it stars Andrew Garfield of Amazing spider-man fame? Did I mention that he’s a tremendous dancer in this video? Did I mention that you should go watch it for yourself? Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.
The message of the video comes in mulitiple parts. It encourages each person to accept who they are inside. To strike against the cultural norms and bullying. This video tells you that you are beautiful in every form, but you still have to find that strength to live and fight against your inner demons every day. This video encompasses everything I loved about the four previous and highlights something vastly more important: it was created.
Arcade Fire has gone on record to say the song was originally thought as a conversation between a father and his gay son. However, they chose to focus on a transgender protagonist. If you need evidence of how rare that is, name five other shows besides Orange is the New Black or True Blood that feature transgender characters prominently. Also to note, they were going to get a transgender person to play the lead until Andrew Garfield’s passion for the project made him a frontrunner. It doesn’t hurt that his current starpower brought more people to the video. Admittedly, his inclusion got my attention. So for combining so many messages and going out of their way to ensure their music video had a message, Arcade Fire’s We Exist is music video you can no longer pass by.
Happy viewing, and stay tuned for the sequel :D.