Have you ever wondered about what different music video kinds exist? Then look no further than this article, where we'll look at every type of music video.
If you're looking for inspiration for your next music video or just want to learn about music video types, read along!
If you are interested in learning the craft yourself, check out our article on Filmmaking 101.
5 main types of music videos
There are five main types of music videos that you typically see. Performance, Narrative, Concept, Lyrics, and Animated.
But what exactly are they? Read along and find out, along with some of the best examples we know.
1. Performance music videos
This music video is probably the oldest and most commonly used music video. In performance music videos, you'll typically see the band, well, performing - meaning it's a recording of them playing on their instruments.
A performance-based music video can include dancing, lip-syncing, and band members playing their various instruments. It can even be a recording of them playing live in some cases.
However, that doesn't mean that you can't be creative with a performance music video. Typically the bands are located in various exciting locations that connect with the song and the feeling they're trying to create.
Performance music videos are more uncomplicated to film than other music video kinds, and it's great for when a band wants to create a video with a low budget.
It was also the standard before the other types of music videos became popular. Hence, most old music videos are performance-based.
Top 3 performance music videos
- Foo Fighters - My Hero
- Weezer - Buddy Holly
- Slipknot - Duality
2. Narrative music videos
A narrative-based music video is a music video where the artist(s) are trying to tell some sort of story.
It is essentially a short film based on the song. Narrative music videos typically include a structure of a beginning, middle, and end.
There are also usually no lip-syncing or musical performances in the video. The band creates a narrative around the lyrics relating to the song's themes.
There are exceptions, depending on which type of narrative music video it is. There are three different narrative techniques used in music videos: Illustration, Amplification, and Disjuncture.
If the director uses illustration, they create a music video where the narrative is based purely on the song.
The video will usually include a direct reference to the lyrics. The scenes are a more or less direct representation of the meaning of the lyrics.
The director will utilize their creative genes when creating the music video with amplification. Here the lyrics are still closely connected to the music video.
It can have complementary scenes not necessarily in the verses but relate to the themes and amplify the song's meaning.
Lastly, disjuncture is when the narrative becomes detached from the song's meaning. Here the director chooses to create a new meaning or theme through the video.
It is essentially a narrative video that might not make much sense on the first viewing.
Top 3 narrative music videos
- Michael Kiwanuka - Cold Little Hearts
- Kendrick Lamar - These Walls
- Childish Gambino - This Is America
3. Concept music videos
Concept music videos are videos without a storyline and typically have no relevance to the lyrics themselves.
The concept music video is usually based on the artist's vision. It can be seen as a way to expand their creative vision with the song.
The concept music video typically includes a performance or a narrative, so the audience doesn't get all lost. But while there might be a smaller narrative in the video, there is typically no structure to the video.
What makes these types of videos so attractive is their uniqueness which can sear into the audience's brain.
Audiences will get fascinated by trying to understand the video, or just because it's so eccentric, they can't forget it.
For example, who can forget the interpretive dancing between Maddie Ziegler and Shia LaBeouf in Elastic Heart?
And who could really take their eyes away from Childish Gambino's intriguing performance in Sweatpants?
When talking about concept music videos, we typically talk about two types: Thematic videos and symbolic videos.
- Thematic videos are based on a theme. The music video uses a theme based on the genre or the song's meaning. This could be the setting of the music video or a specific color.
- Symbolic videos are made up of different frames that build meaning with each other. It typically features a lot of fast shots and well-utilized lighting.
Top 3 concept music videos
- Childish Gambino - Sweatpants
- Sia - Elastic Heart
- Coldplay - Paradise
4. Lyrics music videos
Lyric music videos are just what it sounds like. Music videos with lyrics on the screen as the song goes along.
These videos were extremely popular in the early days of YouTube, albeit they were usually uploaded by a third-party source who didn't have the rights.
Lyric videos started out as windows movie maker videos, with a blue background and the lyrics listed on the screen. But slowly, the industry adopted it and started making official lyric videos with matching fonts and colors.
They have transformed from a modern karaoke-type video to become more creative and innovative.
The lyric music videos typically include a font that matches either the theme or the genre of the song and the background color and font color that goes along with it.
In some cases, the words can be animated to give more meaning to the music. Outside of that, there's usually a lot of movement in the lyric video, so it's not just static text shown on the screen.
Let's take David Guetta's Shot Me Down. It's animated like a comic book, with the lyrics appearing in a text bubble. The lyrics are animated alongside a narrative animated story.
Another example is Adele's Skyfall lyric video. Skyfall was the official song for the James Bond Skyfall movie. It shows different background footage that changes as the song progresses, getting more intense.
Lyric videos are typically used when the artist(s) are unavailable to shoot a music video for the release of the song. The lyric video is also a cheaper way of releasing a music video.
Top 3 lyrics music videos
- David Guetta ft. Skylar Grey - Shot Me Down
- Adele - Skyfall
- Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea - Problem
5. Animated music videos
Animated music videos mean everything from a simple 2D animation to stop motion or CGI. Animation music videos typically follow the same structure as other music video types.
In some ways, you can see the animated music video as a hybrid.
If we look at famous animated music videos, we can look at Kanye West's Heartless. This video features an animated version of Ye performing while walking around at night in his City.
The music video resembles a live-action video and took inspiration from the 1981 movie American Pop. The footage looks so real because they used a rotoscoping technique, where they shot all of the footage in real life and had a team of animators drawing on top of it.
Gorillaz is an energetic band whose entire branding revolves around them being animated. Another favorite music video is Gorillaz's 19-2000, which features the band driving around in the desert.
Gorillaz also released a web browser game alongside the music video that allowed people to drive around just like the video, with the song playing in the background. It shows another way to be creative with your music video and utilize multiple platforms.
Top 3 animated music videos
- Daft Punk - One More Time
- Gorillaz 19-2000
- Kanye West - Heartless
Create your own music video
I hope you enjoyed learning about the different kinds of music videos.
If you want to make a music video yourself, consider reading our article on music video production. Here you'll learn everything you need to know about the production of music videos.
About the instructor
Eypee Kaamiño is a videographer for documentaries and tourism. His background is working in the music industry, in which producing music and music videos was the main job.
What are the different types of music videos?
Performance, Narrative, Concept, Lyrics, and Animated music videos.
What are the 4 main types of music videos that were initially developed?
Performance, Narrative, Concept, and Animated music videos.
What are concept music videos?
Concept music videos are videos without a storyline and typically no relevance to the lyrics themselves. The concept music video is usually based on the artist's vision, and can be seen as a way to expand their creative vision with the song.