Florence and The Machine's track- Dog Days Are Over offers transcendant harp plucking and soaring vocals and a sound that manages to sound both haunting and glorious at the same time.
Listen to the track for a moment.
Close your eyes. What images do you see? What emotions do you feel?
I always picture a couple abandoning their own wedding and escaping into the sunlight of open fields free from responsibilities. For me it captures that freedom of casting off ones problems and the joys of that escape into a care free state.
Whats interesting is that everyones response to a song is different and shows how one sound can inspire a range of different visual interpretations.
The first music video for Dog Days Are Over was released before the success of Florence's first album, Lungs. As such its production values reflect that of the more modest beginnings of her career with a low budget and all filming done using natural light. It has a very indie feel to it which fits the videos general playfulness and loose structure. The director has heard the track and visualised an Alice in Wonderland 'down the rabbit hole' world. The colourful nature of the mise en scene with decorative costumes and characters adds to the surrealism of the video. There is no coherent structure to the narrative but its playfulness and freedom of expression is conveyed a lot through editing. I like how the different paced editing is explored and matched to the pace and tone of the music. The slow sustained moments in the song are emphasised by the use of holding some shots for longer periods drawing attention to the hazy dreamlike quality of the video. When the song moves into its joyous crescendoing chorus at the end, the frequency of cuts increases and the sense of celebration within the song is captured.
When Florence became a big success with large sales of her debut album, the song was re-released as a single again by Island records and a new music video was made to accompany it.
|I really liked the use of coloured gas as an easy special effect.|
Its instantly visually striking, creating shapes and swirls that frame the artist.
|The single spotlight on Florence emphasises the focus of the video.|
It is her story, however where the previous video focused more on what she was watching,
here it is much more about watching the protagonist herself.
|African American Gospel is taken as visible influence on this|
wide shot depicting the choral celebration. The symmetry of the shot
is particularly interesting and draws the focus to Florence at the front.
|A greater number of close ups such as these draw attention to the profile of the artist.|
I liked the choice of angles used here in relation to where the artist is facing
as it seems to add a greater dynamic nature to her performance.
Watching the video it is at once both completely different and clearly similar to the previous one. Gone is the exterior setting to be replaced by an interior studio and photographic artificial lighting. The stylish, uncluttered look is there to make a point about the artist it is selling. It is trying to convey a professional, glamourous side to Florence and the machine, promoting an image that is better suited to a mainstream audience. The old indie music video is replaced with a pop music video that tries to fit those very different conventions with more close ups of Florence herself. As a viewer, your are drawn further into her performance through the jump cut editing.
The visibility of the clear cut editing and the static nature of the camera so in contrast with the previous video, frame the film as if it were a collection of individual paintings. However the creative and artistic aesthetic of the video with colourful costumes and an array of randomised characters draws parallels with the original music video. At the heart of both videos, is a sense of celebration that is portrayed as the song hits its euphoric chorus.
Seeing both videos I really grasped the idea that it is possible for a similar mood to still be evoked by very different filming methods and visual looks.
Then in 2009, as part of the BBC electric proms, an event Florence and the Machine played at, the track was made into the one of their new music shorts. Filmmaker Keith McCarthey won the competition with his idea for the song and had a short film commisioned. The film's concept is of a psychological experiment between two people called the 'Ganzfeld Procedure'.
As a film inspired by music as opposed to a music video, the music is more the soundtrack to the video as opposed to the central focus of it. Its manipulated to fit the mood and changes in tone of the film, fading in and out. For me, having that strong storytelling aspect with defined characters brought a greater poignancy to the song. The emotions behind it resonate when fitted to personalised story.
Comparing these videos, inspired by the same song made me fully realise the flexibility of music videos as an artform. It is possible to concieve almost any concept provided its in video format. The variety of styles, filmmaking techniques and forms displayed in these 3 videos is testament to the creative freedom granted by the medium.What interested me was the storytelling challenge of introducing a narrative and developing it within a rough 5 minute time frame without any sound other than the music.