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Concept Video
This type of music video, rather than featuring the band performing the song, is presented as a visual narrative. These can be original stories, homages to a favorite TV show or movie, or anything else the performer or director comes up with. The video can also directly relate to the story of a Concept Album.

Concept Videos are a signature of the early-'80s "Golden Age" of MTV.

Often these make use of Talky Bookends.

Examples:

  • Michael Jackson is one of the kings, though not the originator, of this type of video.
    • "Thriller": Where a date turns into a real, live, dancing horror movie.
    • "Bad": Features Mike as a young man coming home from a prep school, and confronting his old friends from the 'hood.
    • "Speed Demon": Michael becomes a claymation rabbit named Spike in order to escape obsessive claymation fans. (Part of the Moonwalker anthology film.)
    • "Remember the Time": He's a magician who tries to rekindle the flame with an old lover... who is now married to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
    • "Who Is It": Directed by David Fincher, as Michael realizes his lover is actually a wildly successful prostitute. The darkest and most adult video he ever made and, possibly due to his kid-heavy fanbase at the time, it was never shown on U.S. television and appears only on the Dangerous: The Short Films compilation video.
    • Ghosts, a pastiche of black-and-white horror films combined with an allegory about his treatment by...well, everyone who wondered about his conduct with children, incorporates three songs ("2 Bad", "Ghosts", and "Is It Scary") and runs 38 minutes total, qualifying as an actual short film.
  • David Bowie knows this form well, and was one of the very first recipients of the MTV Video Vanguard Award (1984). A few examples:
    • 1979's "D.J." contrasts the public life of a Stepford Smiler radio deejay with the mental breakdown he's undergoing in private.
    • 1979's "Look Back in Anger" has him as an artist who finds that touching a portrait of himself as an angel affects his face instead of the portrait's.
    • 1980's "Ashes to Ashes" is a terror-enriched video which presents Major Tom's adventures as hallucinations of a man bound up in an asylum. (The concept is loose enough that it also works as a Surreal Music Video.)
    • 1984's Jazzin' for Blue Jean, like Ghosts, qualifies as a Short Film — it's a comic tale of a Celebrity Lie that features Bowie in two roles.
    • 1997's "I'm Afraid of Americans" has Bowie fleeing the "Johnny" of the song...but is this would-be killer just a figment of his imagination?
  • Taking Back Sunday's "Faith: When I Let You Down" tells the story of the OMGWTFTBS Cat, an anthropomorphic cat that abandons Taking Back Sunday for fame in Hollywood.
  • Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" adapted its visuals from Alice in Wonderland.
  • The famous video for Radiohead's "Just" has the band playing in a room while, outside, passers-by stop and ask a man why he's lying down in the street. The conversations are related via subtitles.
    • Radiohead has had several other concept videos as well. "Karma Police," for example, is about a man on foot being pursued down a country road in the middle of the night, as seen from the perspective of the driver chasing him.
  • Much of Queen's video for "I Want To Break Free" was taken up by a sequence which recast the band in drag as a parody of the British soap Coronation Street.
    • Queen's video for "A Kind of Magic" casts Freddie Mercury as a magician and Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor as bums living in an abandoned theater. In the middle segment, they are transformed into the actual band by The Power of Rock.
  • Perhaps the best example is Glen Frey's video for "Smuggler's Blues", which was a full-fledged four-minute movie.
  • ZZ Top's videos from the Eliminator album are also mini-movies unto themselves.
  • J-Rock band Orange Range did two videos for their song "Onegai! Senorita", one a basic Performance Video, the other a Concept Video that was a pastiche of Toku and the Japanese drama Densha Otoko.
  • Missy Elliot's "Sock It To Me", which borrows liberally from the Mega Man games.
  • "By the Way" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers had a very funny video about lead singer Anthony Kiedis being kidnapped by a taxi driver.
    • The "Otherside" video casts them as characters in a German Expressionist film. It's very weird.
    • And in "Californication" they were stuck in a video game.
  • The Chemical Brothers' "Believe" was a short film about a man experiencing hallucinations that a large piece of machinery from the factory where he works is following him. Not only was it dramatically cohesive and quite frightening, the visual effects are some of the best seen in any kind of film of the past five years.
  • Coldplay:
    • "The Scientist" was made into a heartbreaking story of...on second thought, it's best to watch it without knowing what happens.
    • "Talk" has the main band landing their '50s UFO-style spaceship on a seemingly desolate planet, finding a giant robot and activating it, after which it starts following them until they reach a mountain with a hole carved to fit the robot's contour. The video ends with the band returning to their spaceship and bidding the robot farewell as he sets himself inside the mountain's carved-out hole, but as he finds out one of the switches on his chest is stolen by one of the band members, he captures the spaceship in mid-flight and takes a bite out of it, presumably killing them. Then, the robot walks away, whistling.
  • Adam and the Ants' Prince Charming mixes Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (hell I am getting old).
    • There's also Stand and Deliver, where Adam dresses as a "dandy highwayman" who robs an old rich guy on horseback while taunting him and his wife about their lack of fashion sense. He then proceeds to crash through a window onto their banquet, dance on the tables while taunting more people, get arrested, and escape the gallows with the rest of the band.
  • Bjrk's "Bachelorette" video is a multiply recursive story of a girl who finds a book in the woods... about a girl who finds a book, in the woods.
    • As are All is Full of Love (lesbian incest robots being deconstructed), Cocoon (a naked woman being wrapped in a thread secreting from her nipples), Where is the Line (blob thingies attacking a pinecone), Triumph of a Heart (about a woman leaving her cat husband to go out partying, then coming back home with a hangover), Wanderlust (going travelling on a buffalo in a river with a rather aggressive backpack) and Army of Me (who knows).
  • Tom Waits' video for Downtown Train does involve him wandering around at night singing the song, but it also his neighbours' mixed reactions to this bizarre act. An elderly woman tries to pour water on his head.
    • "Lie To Me" is filmed entirely in still-shots.
  • The Decemberists' Oh Velencia is a sad little tale of love and revenge that works quite well with the song
  • Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" is the best 7 minute B-Movie ever. It appears to be a lost sci-fi Kung-Fu Western from the 80s, complete with lasers and last-minute rescues.
  • The Killers' video for When You Were Young is a sordid love story set in Mexico with some great production values
  • The video for Velvet Revolver's "She Builds Quick Machines" also went with the Western theme - cowboys attempting to rescue an angel chained up in a church.
  • The various Arcade Fire videos appear to take place in the same animated world
  • Guns N' Roses "November Rain" is a particularly overblown example.
  • Blues Traveller's video for Run Around was a tribue to The Wizardof Oz with the characters trying to get into a dance club.
  • Garbage's music video for The World Is Not Enough portrays the lead singer as a fembot / walking timebomb being constructed in an underground lair. She kills and replaces the actual lead just before she's scheduled to go onstage and perform the song, and finishes by blowing up the entire concert hall.
  • The music video for "Jaded" by Aerosmith features a fairy tale about a princess who has everything she ever wants, except feelings.
  • The video for "Love Is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. It's one of the first videos to have dialogue (however briefly) that wasn't in the song.
  • Paul McCartney has done a few as a solo artist.
    • "Off the Ground" has Paul flying.
    • One of the videos for "The World Tonight" is Paul playing with Linda outdoors—and I don't mean musically. (It's clean, though.)
    • "Your Loving Flame" has Paul fighting to get to a light, when everything is blowing the other direction or otherwise trying to obstruct him. That song was written for Heather, so this video would have Unfortunate Implications now...
    • "Dance Tonight": Paul gets a package that contains mischievous ghosts, including one with a mandolin. He does play at the end, but the song is finishing by then.
    • He's also done them with others: "Say Say Say" was a duet with Michael Jackson where they (and Linda) are traveling musicians/conmen.
  • All of the German industrial metal band Rammstein's videos except their first ("Du Riechst So Gut") are concept videos, some of which borrow from Quentin Tarantino films.
    • The 1998 re-release of "Du Riechst So Gut" got a new music video which was a concept video. Yay, werewolves.
  • Killswitch Engage's video for Holy Diver, an Affectionate Parody of the original video by Ronnie James Dio, depicts a knight questing to free a Sleeping Beauty type princess from the spell of an evil wizard.
  • They Might Be Giants' "I'm Impressed": Cardboard fascist robots playing Blood Sport in a coliseum.
  • Kate Bush used to love making weird mini-movies for her songs in the 80s. Notable examples include:
    • "Experiment IV", a horror movie pastiche in which a bunch of government scientists in a spooky military facility, including Dawn French and a pre-House Hugh Laurie, create an unstoppable sonic weapon. As you expected it might, the weapon, played by Kate Bush in a ghost outfit, rampages around and kills everyone horribly. Hoorah!
    • "Cloudbusting" - this one is based on the life of Wilhelm Reich. The reclusive scientist pursued by naughty government types is played by Donald Sutherland, Kate Bush plays his eight-year old son (in a hilariously unconvincing child costume) and H.R. Giger designed the very cool rain machine.
    • "Hounds of Love" - a pastiche Hitchcock thriller.
  • Rosn Murphy's clip for "Movie Star". Drag queens and lobster rape, anyone?
  • The Dixie Chicks video for "Goodbye Earl" is a short film about exactly what the original song's about: an abused wife and her best friend deciding to kill said wife's rotten husband after he beats her one time too many and she ends up in the hospital... played for gleefully sadistic laughs. It also features a zombie!Earl in the street dancing scene at the end, and the abused wife is played by the chick who played Elaine (you know, the kooky secretary who was always inventing things like "the face bra"?) on Ally McBeal. Quite possibly one of the most twistedly funny music videos ever.
  • "Take On Me" by a-ha.
  • Concept videos with no budget or plot: "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles & "Fish Heads" by Barnes & Barnes.
  • The Residents' videos usually bordered this and Surreal Music Video.
  • Blind Guardian's "Another Stranger Me" combines a Performance Video with a story about a schizophrenic police detective being driven (more) insane by his other selves. The video for their cover of Mr. Sandman is either this or a Surreal Music Video; either way, it's horrifying if you're afraid of Monster Clowns.
  • Meat Loaf's video for I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) is "Beauty and the Beast" with motorcycles and directed by Michael Bay!
    • His video for Rock and Roll Dreams Come True is a post-apocolyptic romance with Angelina Jolie.
  • REM:
    • "The Great Beyond" combines this with Video Full Of Film Clips: The band is doing a live TV broadcast/recording session interrupted by commercials (clips from the film the song was written for, Man on the Moon) — then Michael Stipe discovers the Fourth Wall: tap the camera lens, and any TV broadcasting them shakes...it ends when he smashes the wall and they emerge on a street one of the TVs was sent scooting along.
    • The video for Man-Sized Wreath features an enigmatic figure being pursued by animated squares, playing a Pac Man Fever - type video game, and finally imitating a certain Tianmen square protester, with a limousine composed of the aforementioned squares replacing the tank. It's... odd.
  • Foo Fighters:
    • Everlong tells a story involving bizarre dreams from which the dreamer can connect back to reality by way of a phone call. Also Dave Grohl's giant bitchslap of death. Combined with Evil Dead.
    • The "Walk" video is an updated Whole Plot Reference to Falling Down, with Dave Grohl in the role of William Foster: Grohl even wears the same outfit, although he's carrying a guitar case instead of a briefcase.
  • Elton John's This Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore had a video with the concept of showing Sir Elton ... but not as he is now; instead, it's the mid-70s version, played by Justin Timberlake. Elton saw the performance and was spooked by how dead on it was.
  • Styx's 'Mr Roboto' got this treatment, too. Then again, it came off a Concept Album that inspired a Concept Concert ...
  • Take That's video for "How Deep Is Your Love" sees the band being held captive by a stalker. And ends with Gary Barlow, tied to a kitchen chair, being pushed into a reservoir.
  • Back in the 60s, a popular Korean crooner finds himself suddenly unable to debut his brand new song due to... personal reasons. The producers' solution - put the five attractive backup singers in the limelight for once, and they sing it instead - and the song becomes a massive hit. The name of this impromptu new girl group? The Wondergirls.
  • Dethklok's Thunderhorse. It tells the story of a barbarian (Played by Nathan) who recieves word that his queen is being held captive and defiled by an evil dude (Skwisgaar). So he rushes to save her, killing the guards (played by the rest of the band) in the process.
    • Murmaider, which is about mermaid murder, tells the story of a group of mermaids who murder some other creatures and their eggs, so a demon mermaid murders them, then the only survivor attacks the demon one.
  • Tori Amos has a couple of videos like this, including:
    • "A Sorta Fairytale", which is a touching story about a leg lady and an arm man falling in love, then transforming into full human beings.
    • "Jackie's Strength", which is about a bride-to-be avoiding her wedding ceremony, then meeting her young self at the end.
    • "Spark", which is about a woman tied up in the woods trying to escape from her kidnapper. She finally gets to the road, and she stops a car. She tries to get the people in the car to cut the rope tied around her hands. Instead, they presumably cut her and leave.
  • Journey's Steve Perry did two, the first, "Oh Sherrie", in which he gets fed up with his director's pretentious Shakespeare Heroic Fantasy-inspired Concept Video, stomps off the set, and sings the song to his girlfriend instead. The second is "Strung Out", a prequel to "Oh Sherrie" in which he meets the pretentious director and the clueless record company representative, and they rail-road him into the Concept Video idea.
    • And Phil Collins did a Concept Video for "Don't You Lose My Number", in which potential directors keep proposing increasingly-trite Concepts for his next video.
    • The video for Christine McVie's "Love Will Show Us How" is also about the making of a music video for the song. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Battlelore's entire videography. It's not hard to imagine that if they had the time and budget, they would just make a Lord of the Rings Fan Fic film with their music as the soundtrack.
  • Country queen Reba McEntire is famous for these - her music videos nearly always tell a cohesive story. Her breakthrough hit, "Whoever's in New England," was her first single to get a music video, and she's stuck with the same concept ever since.
  • Electric Six are good at making bizarre but cohesive music videos with a concept. Although not always linear, they match the song enough to usually qualify as a non-non-sequitor. For one of their albums they even decided to try to make a music video for every single song and almost managed to.
    • The video for "There's Something Very Wrong With Us" has the vaguely menacing, although seemingly mundane at first, narrative of the lead singer sporting a receding and aged hairline driving around Portland, Oregon while being tailgated by an ambulance. This is interspersed with shots of troubled night-life. It's only when the video reaches around thirty seconds to its end that it is revealed the driver is Death, piloting a hearse, who dons his full cowl along a cheap plastic Halloween scythe and has beat the ambulance and the paramedics to their mutual destination.
    • Down At Mcdonnelzzz appears to be about a centaur with a Vanilla Ice haircut and a plastic katana crashing the night shift of a Mc Donald's with a giant 90's-style parking-lot party, complete with numerous 40-oz bottles of liquor and a Delorean. The film also parodies Mc Donalds' corporate trademarking by having scantily-clad women eat pixel-blurred hamburgers with lusty gusto.
  • My Chemical Romance's "Na Na Na Na" video is this at full blast, featuring an on going battle between the Killjoys and the BL/ind coperation in a dystopian desert wasteland.
    • Repeated in the "Sing" video, in the same 'verse.
    • They have a pretty long track record of concept videos (or at least videos that feature equal amounts of concept/storyline and the band performing).
      • In fact, in the making of "Famous Last Words" they comment on how strange it is for them not to do a concept video.
  • All of Lady Gaga's videos since Paparazzi have been this.
  • The Rolling Stones's "Under Cover of Night": Man tries to sneak out of fascist Latin-American country.
  • Jay Chou, now known for Kato, is primarily a hiphop/R&B artiste whose music videos mostly count as this - sadly, the big-budget FX and recurring Chinese gangland motif led to allegations that it was all done with Triad money. All bets are out the window if you can get a cameo from Danny Trejo, though.
  • Most of Gackt's music videos fit this trope:
    • Returner ~Yami no Shuuen~ is about a woman awaiting the return of her samurai husband from the battlefield. Gackt sings the lyrics from the woman's perspective while playing the role of the husband in the video.
    • Flower's music video deals with the loss of a friend and Gackt's grief over it.
    • Last Song's music video is about the grief of a man who's girlfriend just broke up with him, and his attempts to write her one last song.
    • Kimi Ga Oikaketa Yume's music video shows a man waiting at a cafe for his girlfriend. Despite many attempts, he can't get any of the waiters to wait on him, and starts to get frustrated that nobody seems to be paying any attention to him. He eventually leaves, only to have a car drive straight through him and a waiter walk right through his body. He then realizes the reason nobody can see him is because he is dead. He was killedon the way to the cafe.
  • Tinie Tempah's Wonderman video, basing itself on a kind of 'Bionic Man' superhero origin story, parodying most related tropes (Including having Ellie Goulding as a Hot Scientist throughout).
  • Do Not Forsake Me oh My Darling's "Episode 1: Arrival" video is a shot-for-shot remake of the title sequence to The Prisoner, with drummer\vocalist Sophia Cacciola as the title character and bassist Michael Epstein playing everyone else. The band even uploaded a version that has the actual Prisoner title sequence playing out in one corner of the screen, so you can see just how much detail was put into the recreation.
  • The video for Pavement's "Painted Soldiers" combines a little performance footage (actually just Scott Kannberg recording guitar and vocals in a studio) with a plot about the members of the band getting word of being fired, one by one... At the very end, it turns out they've all been replaced with members of Veruca Salt, who mime to the song in a video-within-a-video. The original concept had them all replaced by Weezer instead, by the way).
  • Depeche Mode's videos started pretty badly, until Anton Corbijn introduced a more concept-driven impetus "(Enjoy the Silence" probably the most iconic from his era.)
  • Several of Panic! at the Disco's videos, including "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" (a circus wedding filled with clowns in lingerie), "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" (a funeral with the ghost of the dead person trying to prove the murderer), and "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" (a world where people's heads are encased in fish tanks and breathe underwater).
    • "Build God, The We'll Talk" probably belongs here, too, and might be the best example. It's all about a "porno mime" and a groupie falling in love, having a relationship(all in mime) then that relationship falling apart through(mimed) infidelity.
  • Stabbing Westward's "Shame" alternates footage of the band playing in a rehearsal space with subtitled scenes of a woman trying to escape her psychotic stalker ex-boyfriend (fitting it's Obsession Song lyrics). Despite being full of creepy and dramatic moments, there's a humorous Twist Ending to it all - throughout the rehearsal space scenes, band members keep secretly mouthing things and gesturing to each other, then leaving the room, eventually leaving lead singer Christopher Hall to play the song by himself... It turns out the entire plot was a movie-within-a-music-video, which everyone in the band decided to sneak out of rehearsal to watch in the theater
  • The Darcys' "Don't Bleed Me" is about people trying to flee a doomed Toronto.
  • Pelican's "Dead Between The Walls" and "Lost in the Headlights" share a tongue-in-cheek narrative about their status as an instrumental post-metal band. "Dead Between The Walls" starts out seeming like a straight Performance Video with the band playing in a desert alternating with some atmospheric footage of a car speeding down an empty freeway. Then the driver (a bearded man who has more of a stereotypically "metal" image than the band themselves) gets out of the car and starts wandering the desert while wielding a microphone - it becomes apparent he's trying to track down the band and sing with them. He catches up to the band just in time for the song to end, and leaves disappointed. "Lost in the Headlights" starts with the same bearded man watching the "Dead Between The Walls" video, then continuing to try to track the band down, with much the same results.
  • Fall Out Boy have many a concept including vampires, High School Dance and many with All Just a Dream.
  • Two of Pentatonix's videos thus far have been Concept Videos.
    • Their first video, for their cover of "Starships" by Nicki Minaj, has them mustered out of the space program, whereupon they construct a spaceship out of random household objects.
    • In the video for their cover of "Aha" by Imogen Heap, the band members (as zombies) stalk a man and his girlfriend.
  • Tool's videos are a great example, particularly "Sober" and "Prison Sex." The band barely appears in these at all.
  • Imagine Dragons spends their video for "It's Time" exploring a desolate wasteland of a city, and eventually launching an explosion that parts the storm clouds and sends frontman Dan Reynolds to the heavens. Additionally, their video for "Demons" intersperses footage of the band performing the song on stage with listeners flashing back to moments of emotional turmoil. See the band's entry on Lyrics/Video Mismatch for more examples.

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alternative title(s): Concept Videos
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