Music Video Overshadowing
Let's pretend for a moment that you're part of a band, and you've just finished your debut album. You got together and decided that you all wanted the song 'Cheese on Toast' to be your headlining single, which was a lighthearted, slightly satirical song about... cheese on toast. Your record label decides however that you need a special music video created for it, since they've pegged you as one of the next-biggest-bands and want to try and impress the critics.
A few weeks later, you're at home with a nice plate of cheese on toast, and you see your new music video appear on screen. It sounds good, and it looks good, but something doesn't seem quite right. Then it hits you: they've created the music video with a completely different story or meaning to the song
. This one has the cheese on toast fighting the war on terror against evil beard wearing cans of baked beans.
And not only that, everyone will believe that that's
what you meant the song to be about. It's just a form of Music Video Overshadowing.
In short, Music Video Overshadowing is when the music videos contrast with the songs themselves to the point where they begin to supplant the parent. Most music videos with a storyline are an example of this, especially when the song itself has no real subtext beyond 'Party with me' or 'I don't like you anymore', and a lot of the time the band itself will create videos like this to interest the audience. The only problem with this is discussions about song meanings usually devolve into arguments between 'This is what the words say' and 'This is what the video shows' groups.
Compare Lyrics/Video Mismatch
, in which the video and the song again have vastly different stories/meanings, but the video's doesn't overshadow the song's. This type of song is a prime candidate for a Literal Music Video
due to the humor in the contrast between the original and the new lyrics.
- "El Manana" by Gorillaz. Song: A love song about feelings un-reciprocated. Video: Noodle gets attacked by fighter jets who shoot down and blow up her floating island. She was presumed dead for a while, though this turned out to be untrue.
- The song could also be interpreted as someone losing faith in God as they're dying; note the sirens at the beginning and end of the song. This fits better with Noodle's supposed death.
- "Coffee and TV" by blur. Song: A person who wants to keep away from the world, and stay at home all day with his lover. Video: A Walking Carton of milk searches for a missing person, only for it to turn out to be their guitarist, Graham Coxon. Then he (Coxon) drinks the carton, killing him.
- "Down Under" by Men at Work. Song: An Australian man travels the world, and keeps meeting people who are interested about his home country. Video: Similar, only it's set in the Australian desert and it focuses on the loss of Australian natural beauty (which, to be fair, sounds more like something from Midnight Oil).
- "Today" by The Smashing Pumpkins. Song: a cheery-sounding song about suicidal thoughts. Video: Billy Corgan driving around in an ice cream truck, picking up James Iha in a dress, and then running into Jimmy and D'arcy at a gas station and they all paint the truck. And there's a whole lot of random people making out everywhere.
- "Tonight, Tonight". Song; Time passes and the world changes, but your memories will never fade. Video; A Victorian couple (played by Tom Kenny and Jill Talley) travel to the Moon on a zeppelin and fight aliens. Influenced by the early silent film A Trip to the Moon.
- "Take on Me" by a-ha. Song: A guy will be gone soon, so he wants to sleep with this girl. Video: A girl visits a comic book land, and meets a biker guy. He somehow becomes real... until their next video. The "Literal Version" rewrites the lyrics to match the footage.
- "Mr. Hurricane" by Beast. Song: An emotionally disturbed young woman loves someone she calls Mr. Hurricane, who is trying to help her. However she's also attached to her own rage, which she equates with the beast from What Rough Beast. Video: A man made out of bees. Bees. Beast. Get it? Get it? Don't mess with the "bees", Mr. Hurricane...
- "DVNO" by Justice. Song: The pretentious club scene (and the title is a reference to the club El Divino). Video: The lyrics presented in the form of epic parodies of Vanity Plates and other logos.
- "Hold On" by Korn. Song: A message of encouragement based on lead singer Jonathan Davis's battle with Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease that almost killed him in 2006. Video: A bullriding contest set in the fictional town of "Ballsville", in which the band members must literally "hold on" to the bulls while making groan-worthy "balls"-related puns.
- Also, "Freak on a Leash". Song: Jonathan Davis is frequently worried and suffering (because of how the music industry treats him). Video: In an animated section directed by Todd MacFarlane, the girl from the album's cover is nearly shot. Then comes literal Bullet Time as the bullet breaks the fourth wall out of the artwork and starts blasting everything before meeting the band, who "returns it to sender".
- "Dancing with Myself" by Billy Idol. Song: A twofold meaning about being alone and, well, masturbating (Idol himself denied it). Video: A new spin on the lyrics by transplanting the meaning slightly; he's still alone, but because he's trying to singlehandedly fend off hordes of zombies.
- "Voices, pt. 1" by MF DOOM. Song: DOOM's plot for world domination, that gets foiled at the last second. Video: DOOM being haunted by images of himself as a supervillain, basically exact opposites.
- "Prayer of the Refugee" by Rise Against. Song: Immigration. Video: Consumerism - the band performs in a supermarket.
- "The Reason" by Hoobastank: Song: A fairly standard love song about someone finding a reason to become a better person for the one they love. Video: An elaborate bank heist.
- "Sunsets" by Powderfinger. Song: Your standard love, regrets, etc. Video: An actiony anime-styled Samurai Jack ripoff.
- "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles. Song: An old lady nobody knows dies alone, and you should feel bad for not trying to befriend them. Video from The Beatles: She doesn't die, but is saved, and they all throw a party for her. The stanza detailing her Lonely Funeral is still included.
- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness. Song: A cheery, bombastic, upbeat love song with a good deal of sexual innuendo. Video: The band is aboard a star ship. Lead singer Justin Hawkins, caught somewhere between Ambiguously Gay and Camp Gay, gets out of a hot tub, exposing his bare posterior to the camera in the process, gets felt up by a furry alien thing, then writhes around on a bed in what looks like Elvis's clothes before rocking out with the rest of his band. Stuff happens, and they end up destroying an alien attacking the ship with the Power of Rock.
- "Sonne" by Rammstein. Song: A boxer (Vitali Klitschko) takes out his opponent. Video: The band are six masochistic dwarfs working in a mine to support Snow White's escalating gold dust habit.
- "Who'd Have Known" by Lily Allen. Song: A lovely song about a maturing relationship. Video: A creepy video in which Lily Allen stalks and then kidnaps Elton John.
- "Fuck You", also. Song: A Take That against a generally unlikeable person, who is vaguely hinted at being George W. Bush. Video: A first person bizarre video where Lily changes things around with her finger while walking.
- "Leave Me Alone" by Michael Jackson. Song: A romantic relationship has come to a bitter end. Video: Michael is trapped in/by an amusement park built from all the strange tabloid rumors about him (up through 1988, mind you). In this context, the lyrics are Michael pleading to both his listeners and the media to just let him be and stop humiliating him and hounding him (he did get his wish after his death, though).
- "All Nightmare Long" by Metallica. Song: Describes a Cosmic Horror who chases even during dreams. Video: The Soviets create a Zombie Apocalypse and conquer America.
- "Mary Jane's Last Dance" by Tom Petty. Song: A love song about leaving childhood behind, or perhaps marijuana. Video: A mortician takes home the corpse of Kim Basinger for a romantic dinner.
- "I Get Off" by Halestorm. Song: About a woman who gets off on a peeping tom getting off (yeah, you read that right). Video: A woman getting interrogated and watched in a completely non-sexual way through a 1-way mirror. Justified in that it's doubtful that the moral guardians would like Lzzy Hale masturbating in a video (and Lzzy probably wouldn't be too happy about it either).
- "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf. Song: A man swears to his lover that he'll always cherish her and never leave or be inconsiderate. Video: The Beast runs down some cops on his motorcycle, leads the Beauty to his mansion where he wins her heart, and the two ride off into the sunset as the police show up to arrest him. Directed by Michael Bay, which pretty much says it all.
- "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through". Song: The Power of Rock will always help you out when you need it. Video by Jim Steinman: In a fog-covered dreamscape, a shirtless young man pulls an electric guitar out of a stone, and does a ballet-ish dance number with a woman while the Spirit of Rock (Steinman lip-synching Rory Dodd's vocals) watches. Video by Meat Loaf: The Spirit of Rock (Meat Loaf) protects a teenage runaway played by Angelina Jolie from street gangs in an industrial dystopia.
- "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". Song: Ex-lovers run into each other again years after a bitter breakup and find themselves remembering why they fell in love in the first place. Video: Man has an encounter with the ghost of his lover, who died in a motorcycle crash. (The video for Celine Dion's version of the song, interestingly enough, has exactly the same plot, albeit with a Gender Flip) The video by Pandora's Box, the first group to record the song, also opens with singer Elaine Caswell dying in a motorcycle crash, but thereafter descends into a much more psychedelic sequence, including more of the leather-clad ballet numbers Jim Steinman was so fond of in The '80s.
- "Bad For Good", by Jim Steinman. Song: This isn't just a phase, i'm going to be like this forever and i'm never gonna change. Video: In a cave which is totally not some cardboard rocks on a soundstage, Jim Steinman pulls an electric guitar out of a stone (again) and throws it through a stained glass window to what turns out to be Sleeping Beauty's bedroom. As he watches, five young men wake her up, strip to their underwear, demolish the set, and do a synchronized ballet number with her.
- "Total Eclipse of the Heart", by Bonnie Tyler. Song: Emotionally fragile woman pines for the man who has turned her world upside-down. Video: Bonnie Tyler wanders around a Victorian manor inhabited by boarding school kids, ninjas, fencers, American football players, an army of Arthur Fonzarelli clones, demon-possessed choirboys, and even more underwear-clad male ballet dancers.
- "Steady As She Goes" by the Raconteurs. Song: No matter how hard you try to conform to societal norms, you'll always end up feeling like you don't fit in. Video: The members of the band compete in a soap box derby, and Jack Lawrence wins thanks to Paul Reubens helping him cheat.
- "The Last In Line" by Ronnie James Dio. Song: We're the trodden-upon Butt Monkey's of the world and things aren't getting better for us. Video: A teenage boy gets trapped in a falling elevator and ends up enslaved in an underground Crapsack World, where only Dio can save him.
- "Love Like Woe," by The Ready Set. Song: a guy sings about how he's trying to make his girlfriend stay in love with him. Video: A party in a deserted camp cabin is attacked by vampirish men with glowing green eyes who kidnap the lead singer and turn him into one of them.
- The international version of the music video actually fits with the song more, detailing the lead singer going through with a plan to get his girl back through coming over to her house with gifts (including giant stuffed toys and a pony!) only for the girl's mom to show up and tell him that she's over at her dad's house.
- "Pork and Beans" by Weezer. Song: A Take That on the music industry; Rivers Cuomo doesn't care about what the executives think he needs to do, and will do what he wants. Video: The band plays while a wide array of Memetic Mutation victims show up.
- Or its a song about all these folks deciding to be themselves and do whatever makes them happy, rather than letting others decide for them. Which is actually pretty close to the song itself, except with lots of memes thrown in.
- "You Could Be Mine" by Guns N' Roses. Song: a guy tells a girl they could've been together. Video: The Terminator is sent by SkyNet to kill Axl Rose (The song was part of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack).
- "Asylum" by Disturbed. Song: Built around the dual-meaning behind the word "asylum", referring to an institution and a safe haven, in that the darkest places within the mind can hold their own kind of comfort (the inspiration for the song comes from the memory of a lost loved one becoming this). Video: A depiction of an actual asylum and a delusional patient's attempts to escape from it.
- "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. Song: Dad misses the important moments in his son's life because he's busy with work, and realizes too late his son has grown up just like him. Unofficial video created for a BBC PSA: Dad misses the important moments of his son's life because he's an IRA foot-soldier constantly in and out of jail, and realizes too late that his son has grown up just like him.
- "California Gurls" by Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg. Song: A Location Song about how California and its girls are the best. Video: A Sugar Bowl featuring girls dancing in skimpy dessert outfits and Snoop leading an army of CGI Gummi Bears.
- "Human Touch" by Rick Springfield. Song: We all need a hug or a pat on the back every once in a while. Video: Rick and a bunch of other nuclear holocaust survivors are temporarily revived from hibernation chambers to have a little dance party.
- "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats. Song: A protest against bouncers stopping dancers from "pogoing" to new wave music. Video: The band's singer, a midget, and an unknown woman dance and sing in medieval times, culminating in an epic maypole dance.
- "Baby Don't Forget My Number" by Milli Vanilli. Song: A fairly simple pledge of always being there to support a lover, at least over the telephone. Video: "Singers" Rob & Fab bike through the city trying to track down a piece of paper with a girl's number on it that Rob lost. They don't find the paper, but end up at the girl's house anyway.
- "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" as well. Song: A man laments his breakup with a girl he had always suspected was stringing him along. Video: Rob plays a painter, and Fab plays some guy who has a boat. When Fab attends the debut of Rob's new painting, a portrait of a girl, they realize they've both been dating her. Rob burns the painting on the beach as Fab sails off away from his troubles.
- "Sock it to Me" by Missy Elliott. Song: Intercourse with You. Video: Mega Man.
- "Get Back In Line", by Motörhead. Song: The world sucks, the deck is stacked against you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Video: A group of British businessmen party in a casino where they're literally gambling with people's lives. Motorhead show up, trash the place, and kick their asses, and Lemmy leaves with two cocktail waitresses on his arms.
- Lady Gaga
- "Bad Romance". Song: About being in love with a best friend, and wanting more. Wanting the love, the sex, the abuse, everything; because what she has just isn't enough. Video: Lady Gaga is grown in a cloning tank and put on the block at a slave auction. A man wearing a gold strap-on beard buys her, but before he can consumnate his purchase she burns him alive with the power of dance-pop. Cover by the Demonstration: While the band plays, a woman puffs on a cigar, sips Evan Williams, and hires a holographic stripper to dance for her. As the song progresses, the stripper crawls to her, takes its top off, and kisses her before dematerializing with a message that her credit limit has been reached.
- "Paparazzi". Song: Stalker with a Crush. Video: Lady Gaga's boyfriend throws her off the balcony during a makeout session. Half-crippled, she comes home and murders everyone in their mansion before poisoning his drink and turning herself in.
- "Telephone". Song: girl is trying to party at the club, but can't concentrate because her man keeps calling her. Video: Lady Gaga is thrown in prison for murdering everyone in "Paparazzi". She is abused by the guards, makes out with a butch girl, and exposes her genitals to the camera in order to dispel internet rumors about her being a hermaphrodite. Beyoncé breaks her out using the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill, and the two of them poison everyone at a roadside diner in an homage to Natural Born Killers. About the only connection is the telephone hat.
- "Born This Way". Song; Don't be ashamed of your sexuality, because you can't be anything other than what God made you to be. Video - actually a pretty straightforward performance video - aside from the 3-minute spoken word intro, with a Star Wars-ish orchestral overlay, in which Gaga becomes the star-child from 2001 and gives birth to ultimate Freedom and ultimate Evil, and realizes that the latter must exist to defend the former.
- "Judas". Song; The singer despairs over being in love with a man who has betrayed her in the past and who will betray her again. Video; Jesus and the Twelve Apostles are a biker gang. She warns Jesus of His imminent betrayal, and He orders her to kill Judas - but she refuses to pull the trigger, and when Jesus realizes she has sided with His betrayer as well, has her stoned to death.
- "I Will Follow You Into The Dark", by Death Cab for Cutie. Song: A love so powerful that not even The Nothing After Death can end it. Video: Ben Gibbard is playing guitar in his one-room apartment when he notices a tiny hole in the floor. As he goes about his daily routine, the hole grows larger until it encompasses the entire room and he falls in, wandering off into the darkness as a final shot shows the apartment empty with no hole in the floor.
- "Always", by Erasure. Song: Love ballad wherein the singer wishes to forever be with the one he loves. Video: In a Japanese garden in the winter, a man swears everlasting love to his woman, and The Power of Love melts the snow and brings on spring. A demon attacks, returning the snow and freezing the two in ice, but his love remains so strong that he melts the ice and defeats the demon. Video game adaptation courtesy of Adult Swim: A cybernetic unicorn dashes endlessly through a rainbow-colored dreamscape, accompanied by singing dolphins.
- "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down. Song: A man asks his girlfriend if she'll still be there for him even when he feels depressed. Music Video: An elderly former Super Hero who lives in a pest filled apartment, spies a woman being harassed by her boyfriend. He dons his old Super Hero costume and chases after the mean boyfriend, at one point he's beat up by a gang of goths, but makes it out of it in time to crash through a bar's skylight on top of the mean boyfriend. All while the band themselves are performing in the bar for a bunch of elderly Super Villains.
- "No Rain" by Blind Melon. Song: Someone struggling to get over their isolating depression. Music Video: A young girl does a tap-dance routine dressed in a bee costume, is mocked by an unseen audience, and runs off. She then wanders through the city, trying to show her act to completely disinterested passers-by. Finally, she comes upon a field full of people in bee costumes dancing around and joins them, having finally found acceptance. It could be argued the video concept isn't supplanting the meaning of the song so much as adding a more hopeful You Are Not Alone spin to it. Still, more people seem to remember the bee girl herself than the video's plot or the song's lyrics anyway.
- The Toni Braxton song "Unbreak My Heart" is about a woman mourning the end of a relationship because her man has walked out on her. However, in the video, the man has died.
- "Sorry's Not Good Enough" by Mc Fly. Song: A man's girlfriend has left him over a trivial argument, but she won't listen to his apologies. Video: Tom is in a restaurant with a girl and trying to persuade her to come back to him. It is eventually shown that the whole restaurant is a fake set and she is secured to the table with duct tape, making the standard breakup song seem very sinister. She eventually manages to free herself and escape.
- "Another Postcard" by Barenaked Ladies. Song: An anonymous person with an unknown motive harasses the singer by mailing him massive amounts of novelty chimpanzee postcards. Video: A King Kong-inspired B-Movie pastiche called Chimp!, in which a giant chimpanzee terrorizes Toronto before climbing the CN Tower... which is then revealed to be a rocket, which the chimp rides into space. Oh, and the Barenaked Ladies are performing in the tower while all this is going on, but they don't get much screen time.
- "I'll Always Come Back" by K.T. Oslin. Song: A woman and her bed buddy. Video: A mother returning home to her husband and son.
- "My Girl" by Hoodoo Gurus. Song: A guy suspects his girlfriend is cheating on him. Video: Lead singer Dave Faulkner owns a racing greyhound named My Girl and trains her for a big race.
- "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum. Song: A woman wonders why her partner won't perform cunnilingus on her. Video: Hillary Scott and Beth Behrs go out and "get so crazy that they end up getting arrested".
- "Drop Dead Gorgeous" by Republica. Song: About a volatile on-off relationship, but the singer always forgives her partner's lies because he's "drop dead gorgeous". Video: The band plays in a futuristic-looking house while singer Saffron trashes the place in a manner more typical of videos associated with angry breakup songs.
- "Black Widow" by Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora. Song: The singer despairs that the man she's in love with is no longer emotionally invested in her, and vows to make him love her so hard he'd be willing to die for her. Video: A Quentin Tarantino pastiche that begins with Michael Madsen stepping into a diner with girlfriend Rita and ordering a bacon-and-cheese sandwich. When the waitress, Iggy, fails to deliver a sandwich that's cheesy enough for his tastes, an overbearing manager sends her back to make a new one - and while chopping lettuce for the sandwich, she descends into a Kill Bill-esque fantasy sequence wherein she and Rita become ninja assassins and infiltrate a nightclub in order to assassinate Madsen.
- "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John. Song: A sexually aggressive woman takes the lead and asks her date to have sex with her. Video: Olivia plays a fitness trainer at a gym.
- "Steal My Girl" by One Direction. Song: The singer is jealous that so many other men are interested in his girlfriend. Video: a Music Video Within a Music Video, as directed by Danny DeVito.
- "Man Down" by Rihanna. Song: A woman faces emotional and practical consequences after publically shooting a man in anger (unpremeditatedly). Video: Rihanna plays a popular girl who is raped by a man after dancing with him at a club, and later surreptitiously shoots her rapist. Cue controversy.
- "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. Song: Allegorical Intercourse with You song involving religion. Video: A gay couple being targeted by homophobes.
- This trope is part of the reason why the Canadian alt-rock group Rusty suffered from a polarizing (and damaging) reputation when they debuted in the mid-90's. "Misogyny" is a song about spousal abuse, and how a man can emotionally and physically manipulate his wife. The music video consists of band footage intercut with clips from a black comedy called Hustler White, which deals with a man who tries to solicit a gay hustler and has absolutely nothing to do with the song or lyrics. The band eventually developed an unflattering reputation as a result of the video's subject matter, and put a damper on their careers before they could really take off.
- "La La La" by Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith. Song: A Breakup Song, where the narrator is Ignoring by Singing to cope with the crumbling relationship. Video: Inspired by a Bolivian folk tale (with added The Wizard of Oz overtones), a boy uses Ignoring by Singing to improve his and other people's lives, and then faces a demon using this technique.
- Sia's "Chandelier". Song: An Ode to Intoxication. Video: A Dance Moms star prancing around an empty house in Nude-Colored Clothes.
- There's also her "Titanium" with David Guetta. Song: A song about being proud of yourself. Video: A boy discovers Mind over Matter powers and is chased for it.
- "Bronte" by Gotye. Song: An account loosely inspired by the singer's friend's dog being put to sleep. Video: A little girl grows up and has to leave her imaginary friends behind.
- "Turn The Page" by Bob Seger. Song: The hard lifestyle of a musician who is constantly touring in places that may not appreciate him. Video by Metallica: A Single Mom Stripper drives from place to place, stripping and picking up tricks while her daughter waits forlornly in hotel rooms.
- "Whiskey in the Jar". Song: An old Irish drinking song about a highwayman who is betrayed by his old lady. Video by Metallica: A bunch of heavy metal chicks throw the wildest party ever and thrash the hell out of their house.
- "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails: Song: An depressed guy sings about what's been itching at him (possibly drugs). Video by Johnny Cash: An old man looks back at his life that he knows will end very soon.