Lyrics/Video Mismatch

After all, what image best fits a song about inner strength than a child running for his life?

This describes the situation where a Music Video follows a distinct conceptual narrative — but it's a narrative which has absolutely nothing to do with the song's lyrics or theme nor with the band's overall image, save (perhaps) only the thinnest of connections. Typically, no justification of the concept (such as All Just a Dream) is ever attempted.

Many videos which qualify as homages might fit into this category; in fact, quite a few of our Notable Music Videos are examples of Lyrics/Video Mismatches. If taken too far, you can end up with a Surreal Music Video. Sometimes this results in Music Video Overshadowing.

Examples:

Alternative Rock
  • Asian Kung-Fu Generation's "Kimi No Machi Made" is about a guy who wants to fly over to his lover's town like a bird. The music video, on the other hand, is about a synchronized swimming duo persevering despite getting attacked by a giant lobster in the middle of a competition.
  • Big Country's "In a Big Country". The lyrics are about encouraging someone who's feeling depressed. The video is some sort of spy drama involving scuba diving and rappelling down a cliff.
  • The Birthday Massacre's "In The Dark" is a song about a screwed-up relationship where everything is going wrong. The video is about a strange doll that comes to life, leads the singer through a very weird landscape and abducts her.
  • CAKE:
    • "Love You Madly" depicts an Iron Chef-style cooking contest.
    • "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" shows the reactions of people listening to the song on headphones.
  • Cracker's "Low" is basically a Love Is A Drug song. The video, however, is mainly about their frontman boxing Sandra Bernhard... and losing pretty badly. It could be some sort of metaphor about dysfunctional relationships, mind you.
  • Crash Test Dummies' cover of "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" is about a martyr in Italy who discredits the Vatican by coming into town and spreading wealth and generosity around, which eventually results in him being crucified on television. The music video (a tie-in to Dumb and Dumber) follows Jeff Daniels' Harry, who's visiting Canada, stopping a robbery at a church and getting unfairly blamed for it. He then gets locked up and tried in court before being visited by an angel and hanged (and falling to the ground unhurt before fleeing the crowd). Notably, this mismatch is highlighted in the video - guest vocalist Ellen Reid sings "Peter Pumpkinhead was too good, had him nailed to a chunk of wood" before panning the camera over from the tied-up Harry to a noose.
  • Foo Fighters:
    • "Everlong" is a heartfelt love song... with a Surreal Music Video where the sparse romantic elements are Played for Laughs.
    • Likewise, the video for "Big Me" is an Affectionate Parody of Mentos commercials out of a tender ballad.
    • "Learn To Fly" is an introspective song about spirituality and coming home, while the video is a bizarre Airplane reference in which Tenacious D guest stars and several band members appear in drag.
  • Garbage's "Special" looks like a clip out of Crimson Skies and it has nothing to do with the song.
  • Imagine Dragons:
    • In "Radioactive," the singer experiences empowerment after "the apocalypse" causes him to awaken in "a new age." In the music video, a young woman rescues Imagine Dragons from Lou Diamond Phillips, by sending her teddy bear to slay a puppet monster. It still delivers themes of empowerment, just not in a way that takes the song's lyrics literally.
    • "On Top of the World" details the nervousness of declaring love for someone. The music video sends the band to The Sixties to televise a staged moon landing.
  • A Perfect Circle's "The Outsider" deals with someone trying to convince his friend not to commit suicide, and eventually concluding that if the friend does decide to shoot themself, they should do so far away from him. The music video has a woman escape from jail and meet up with a crew of female criminals called the "Bikini Bandits", who proceed to cause reckless destruction on people's properties and in a convenience store before being arrested. The video tries to justify this by calling the lead female "the outsider", and having people quote the lyrics "why would you throw it all away like this" and "they were right about you, suicidal imbicile", but it doesn't work.
  • The Postal Service's "We Will Become Silhouettes". Song: A morbid reflection on post-apocalyptic life, as told by one of the survivors. Video: A suburban family (dressed in fashions from The Seventies) sings karaoke in their living room, packs some supplies, goes on a bike ride and enjoys a picnic lunch on the foothills of a nearby mountain. Even with the vague inference that the music might be set After the End (as evidenced by a handful of homes the quartet ride by, which are shown with cracks in them), any connection is non-existent.
  • Radiohead's "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere.)" is about paranoia and being afraid of things that aren't there. The music video is a blend of CGI and live animation in which Thom Yorke is forcibly turned into a tree.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins, "Tonight Tonight". The video is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the 1902 sci-fi short A Trip to the Moon.
  • Starflyer 59's "No New Kinda Story". The lyrics are pretty vague, but seem to be about the singer's life being no different from a story. The video is a tribute to 8 1/2 and The Seventh Seal, with a man getting poisoned by his car's air conditioning and then losing a chess match against Death.
  • Taking Back Sunday's "Faith: When I Let You Down" is about Adam telling his friend not to lose faith in him no matter what. The video tells the story of an anthropomorphic cat called the OMGWTFTBS Cat who abandons Taking Back Sunday for fame in Hollywood. He gets famous, parties really hard, pretends Taking Back Sunday don't exist, his career crashes, he gets overshadowed by a non-anthropomorphic cat, and he finally returns home to his friends, Taking Back Sunday.

Country
  • Shania Twain, "Gonna Getcha Good". Ah yes, I remember TRON.
  • At least half of the videos ever directed by Roman White among them, Carrie Underwood's "So Small", which somehow turns a song about The Power of Love into something about a car wreck which is then "frozen".
  • Easton Corbin's "All Over The Road" is about a guy explaining to the cop who pulled him over that no, he's not drunk; he just can't drive straight because his overly-amorous girlfriend keeps distracting him with her affections. The video is about a beautiful woman robbing a convenience store and taking the singer hostage, leading to some epic car chase scenes when the cops start chasing them.
  • Reba Mcentire had a few of these. One example is "Why Haven't I Heard from You."

Dance/Electronic
  • Art vs. Science's video for "Parlez-Vous Francais". The song is about asking French girls to take off their shirts and something about spying on the sexy, Cha-Cha-ing neighbours. The video, on the otherhand, is about a bad mime picking a fight with another mime after being shown up at miming (or...something) and the escalating mime-battle that ensues. It's actually quite well choreographed.
  • As mentioned in the page quote, David Guetta ft. Sia's "Titanium" is a short film about a boy who discovers Mind over Matter powers and is chased for it. When the song's about good empowerment, being impervious to criticism and feeling well about yourself.
  • Inna's "Endless" is lyrically a "please don't go" Breakup Song, but the video is about her getting out of an abusive relationship.
  • Many of Fatboy Slim's videos. Best known is "Weapon of Choice", which despite the lyrics portrays Christopher Walken dancing and flying on a hotel.
  • Most of Project Pitchfork's videos are surreal mind screws that have little to do with the song lyrics.
  • The Boomtang Boys' "Pictures". The song revolves around a woman remembering the summer she spent with a man, and how the only things she has are photographs to remember him by. The music video has a girl become infatuated with a cardboard standee of a man (which somehow becomes animated and can move around), makes out with it, then goes on a date with him (and eventually ditches him for another cardboard standee) while her friend looks at her like she's lost her mind.

Fan Works
  • Any number of videos of movie tie-in songs, by virtue of the video desperately trying to make up for the fact that the song has no relation to the movie.

Folk
  • The Polish band Shannon's music video of the Breton folk song Tri Martolod, which is about three Breton fishermen who sail to Newfoundland, consists of ... a random string of Celtic and Medieval cliches? Nolwenn Leroy's version is not much better, being a video about children lost in the woods...

Hard Rock
  • The Darkness' "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" features an alien attack straight out of the 1950s.
  • Def Leppard, "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" (second version). The giant silos, a guy walking through a machine shop/factory, weird bondage fetishes on a raft with two guys wearing gas masks — none of this has anything to do with the song itself.

Heavy Metal
  • Dio's "Holy Diver" looks like a somehow cheaper rendition of an Ator movie.
  • Anthrax's video for "Nothing." The song is about a friendship (or relationship) falling apart; the video is just one long gag about the band's name (the band is seen playing the song under a microscope on the back of a cow, get it?).

Hip-Hop

Industrial
  • Angelspit's song 'Toxic Girl' is about a very evil woman. The video... shows three people who buy a sex doll, use it and are supernaturally compelled by it to kill themselves. Vividly.

Nu-Metal/Alternative Metal
  • Slot's video for 'Лего' (Lego) is a gore-less take on the Saw franchise, in which lead singer Daria Stavrovich - aka Nookie - takes on the Jigsaw role and "kills" her bandmates one by one. Cache is killed in a bomb blast, Dudu is asphyxiated when the air is pumped out of his room, ID is poisoned by a glass of spiked champagne and Nixon is handcuffed, tied up inside a bath and drowned.

Pop
  • Before we even begin, about 90% of what Channel Awesome contributor Todd in the Shadows reviews can end up on this list. Including the quote at the top of the page from his review of "Titanium" (listed above in Electronic).
  • Ayumi Hamasaki, "Angel's Song" features Ayumi transforming into a werewolf and fighting off bad guys from her using kung fu.
  • Will Young's "Friday's Child" opens with Will learning to swim and moves on through him improving, winning medals and eventually swimming the English Channel.
  • Lights's "Ice". The lyrics are about a boyfriend who's a male Ice Queen, the music video is about Lights fighting her Evil Twin.
  • "My Oh My" from Aqua. The lyrics involve references to medieval kingdoms and Robin Hood, but the music video is about how pirates treat their captives.
  • "Take Me To Your Heart" from Rick Astley. The lyrics are about dating, but the music video is about studio work.
  • Lady Gaga's video for "Telephone" is the queen of this trope.
    • The "Alejandro" video might top "Telephone" in sheer lyrics/video disconnection.
  • Maroon 5's "Payphone" is about a breakup. The video is...about a guy that works at a bank getting involved in a skirmish with criminals and then being chased by cops. While a payphone does appear in the video, it doesn't really have anything to do with the plot.
    • "One More Night", also. The song is about a man in an abusive relationship with a woman, but every time he wants to leave her, she forces her love onto him, making them stay together yet again. The video is about a boxer who's wife leaves him with nothing while he's in a match for...who knows what reason.
    • "Maps" hits this trope pretty hard. The song is about a man still feeling for a woman no longer in a relationship with him. The music video starts off with Adam Levine rushing to the hospital and seeing a woman in urgent care, flashing back to the woman getting hit by a car, flashing back to Levine cheating on the same woman while at a party, finally flashing back to Levine and the woman getting ready for the party. Not helping is the Soundtrack Dissonance, as while "Maps" is very upbeat, the music video is most certainly not.
  • The video to David Hasselhoff's version of "Hooked On a Feeling". The song is about falling in love. The video features motorcycle riding, riding a dogsled, meeting elephants, and just about every cheesy thing you can think of.
  • Katy Perry's "California Gurls". The song is an anthem to the beautiful ladies of California. The video features Katy in Candyfornia, complete with a matching dress.
    • The song "Dark Horse" is about, in Katy's own words, "a witch warning [a] man to not fall in love with [her]", and if so, she would be his last. The video, while not entirely out of touch with the song, as it features Katy using magic of sorts, features her as the queen of an overly-colorful Ancient Egypt, complete with blue-skinned servants.
  • The 1984 song, "Yo, Little Brother" by Nolan Thomas is about the older brother finding out the titular little brother has gotten into the wrong crowd that he himself escaped from in the past. The music video on the other hand had the older brother looking like a 1950s child version of Max Headroom, the little brother like a 7-year-old Billy Idol and the "wrong crowd doing things they shouldn't oughta do" are a kid dressed up as Prince (that can't dance,) a mini-Rick Ocasek, a mini-Bruce Springsteen and a mini-Cyndi Lauper (that would've made a better Boy George,) who simply play Charades. Aside from a more Lighterand Softer approach to the song, it was a prequel to Milli Vanilli as the kid in the video, Nolan Thomas was lipsynching Elan Lanier's song in an obnoxious case of Executive Meddling.

Pop Punk
  • Just about any video by Coheed and Cambria. Considering how the band works, it isn't surprising.
    • Their video for "Welcome Home" actually shows us much of what the song is about. "Devil in Jersey City" also shows us things in The Amory Wars, though not actually stuff that happens during the song. "The Suffering", however...
  • If anyone is willing to explain what Fall Out Boy's song "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me" has to do with vampire hunting, please enlighten us.
    • And if anyone can see the connection between the lyrics of "Sugar We're Going Down" and human-deer hybrids, that would seriously en-deer him/her to us.
    • Let's not even get started with their Young Blood Chronicles series of music videos. They start out okay, with the "Light 'Em Up" video seeming to be a pretty direct interpretation of the song, but that quickly goes south with "The Phoenix" and particularly "Young Volcanoes", a song about a triumphant young group, with a music video that involves eating things that should not be eaten.
  • A good number of Zebrahead's videos. Two good examples are "Broadcast to the World", which has the band as news reporters and has sock puppets destroying a city, and "Postcards From Hell", where the members of the bands are mysteriously dying. At the end, it's revealed that they were murdered by a man in a teddy bear costume.
  • Green Day, somewhat: While most of the stuff from American Idiot ("Holiday", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Wake Me Up When September Ends") has a video relatively relevant to the song, the videos aren't related to the plot of the Rock Opera itself.

Pop Rock
  • Duran Duran, "Come Undone". The lyrics appear to be about offering to help a person who's coming apart at the seams. The video is about a woman performing an underwater escape from chains and a male transvestite, among other images.
  • Scissor Sisters, "Mary". The lyrics are gentle encouragement for the titular Mary (Jake Shears's best friend) not to be sad. The video is about a bored woman working in a call center who tunes out and envisions an animated fantasy sequence based on Rapunzel (and produced by Don Bluth.)
  • Pulp, "Disco 2000." The song itself is about the singer's unrequited love for a childhood friend called Deborah, but loses her when she becomes popular with guys after puberty, and meets her at a class reunion in 2000 by which time she has married someone else. The video is a love story about a completely different couple who meet and hook up at a disco in the 1970s (although the woman's name turns out to be Deborah.)

Power Metal
  • Dragonforce's "Operation Ground and Pound"... tentatively linked, in a general sense, but the song does not mention Starcraft-esque ships at all. Also, the guitar solo features Herman and Sam playing a fighting game on a Turbo-Grafx 16.

Rock
  • Pat Benatar, "Shadows Of The Night": she's a WWII flying ace. Or possibly just dreaming of being one
  • Don Johnson, "Heartbeat". Don, a photographer, chases a beautiful figment of his imagination while rocking out with Dweezil Zappa.
  • Any number of Huey Lewis and the News' videos.
  • Hoodoo Gurus, "My Girl": lead singer Dave Faulkner plays a racing greyhound trainer preparing his hound (named My Girl) for a big race. Totally tongue-in-cheek (but poignant in its own way), but people took it literally and assumed the song itself was about a dog! Eventually whenever reporters asked the band to explain any of their songs' lyrics, they'd always say "it's about a greyhound."
  • Les Trois Accords skirts between this and Surreal Music Video. Then again, their songs are rife with surrealism and Word Salad Lyrics.
  • "It's Inevitable" by Charlie is set in a huge bakery, and looks at first like its boy-stalks-girl lyrics will be played out by two of the chefs. Then one character's clumsiness kicks off a gigantic food fight, making it "inevitable" that everyone on the set will get a faceful of frosting.
  • The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" appears to be about the band trying to run out on their girlfriends... while wearing cowboy outfits... and then the women pursue them with boomerangs. The UK version, on the other hand, is pure Sweet Dreams Fuel.
  • This trope may have been the reason why Canadian rock band Rusty's reputation suffered poorly in the late 90s. "Misogyny" is a song that deals with spousal abuse, and how women keep going back to their abusers, even after the latter apologizes and swears to be more respectful. The music video mixes performance footage with a mid-90s Sunset Boulevard-ripoff/softcore drama called "Hustler White", where a journalist goes to Los Angeles and becomes infatuated with a male prostitute. The confusing music video led to accusations that the band was gay, which would haunt them until their dissolution several years later.
  • Theory of a Deadman's music videos have vague interpretations of the titles... and nothing else:
    • "Make Up Your Mind" is about a man telling his girlfriend that they have to patch up their differences if they want to maintain their sanity. The music video is about a bride who begins having second thoughts as she's walking down the aisle at her wedding, starts making out with several men in the aisles and eventually kills herself by jumping off a nearby cliff as the wedding party watches.
    • The lyrics for "Santa Monica" are about a man who watches as his girlfriend drives him to the boiling point (including pouring gasoline on his bed and lying about everything) before breaking up with him and leaving for Santa Monica. The music video not only gender-flips the perspective (it follows the girlfriend instead), but the narrative is completely different. The girlfriend loves her boyfriend but doesn't tell him where she's going, moves to Santa Monica and becomes a model before being driven to prostitution and having a breakdown (while her boyfriend doesn't feel guilted and moves on with his life), then moves back and goes to reconcile with him as the video ends.
    • "Since You've Been Gone" deals with a man who's in a turbulent relationship with a woman and is constantly begging her to stay with him, to the point that he's trying to guilt-trip her by insinuating that she has nowhere else to go. The music video takes place on a ranch with a husband who is forced to watch as his wife succumbs to a vague illness, and eventually remembers the time they spent together.

Alternative Title(s):

Narrative Non Sequitur