Visual Review 9: Music Video

MGMT- Kids

“Kids” by MGMT was one of the first music videos to come into mind when seeing this assignment. It is a piece of visual art that simultaneously engages, enrages, and entertains viewers through unique visual techniques.

The video begins with a near-sepia colored colossal flame billowing in the background, and neon transparent font to indicate the artists and song name. This credit-like sequence is followed by a Mark Twain quote in the same alien-like font. The sequence ends and transitions into the video through the sepia flames creating intense texture and then a fade transition into the music.

The actual music portion begins in complete rhythm with sharp cuts between images and bright moving colors with wide varieties of hues, in stark contrast to the flowing movement and low color variation in the introduction. This sequence has a slow fade into a child in a crib in a very low-lighting environment with lighting coming onto the child from an angle above him. Creatures are behind the child in the lower third, and then the perspective shifts from birds eye to worms eye, as the viewers take on the child’s perspective. The camera does quick, unpredictable panning as the creatures grab at the child, and then pan slowly up and to the side in order to follow the creature’s movement.

Suddenly, normally lit hands come from the top left, pulling the child, with the camera panning at an angle to follow him, out of the screen.

Last image before cut
Following Scene

The director makes an interesting decision with every inch of this transition. The choice to use an almost-shocking quick cut as opposed to fading out, combines with the sudden color, subject and lighting shift to show the change in an off beat way. These two choices to make a significant visual jump are complimented nicely by the manner in which the subjects leave the previous scene out of the left side at an upwards angle, and seem to appear right in the equivalent location in the next scene, which develops fluidly into a tracking dolly shot, following a displeased looking, well-dressed mother and her child from the front, at eye level. This allows viewers to stare at the subjects in a manner that feels nearly face-to-face, except the woman does not look anywhere near the camera, and barely even glances at her child.

The creatively planned location, angle, and timing of when subjects exit and enter the frame is an ongoing visual theme throughout the video. It is implemented really creatively, and timed just right, so that when the camera tracks the subject off the frame, viewers begin to expect a scene change or turning of a corner. However, the style is even more creative due to how they vary the arrival and exit of different subjects. The style creates a fun surprise with how viewers can feel like they are just following someone into the next frame, but entirely different subjects also appear right at the angle where the other subject would be walking. This is a sort of high-end artistic homage to children’s cartoon characters, like Scooby-Doo, running in and out of various doors with different people and monsters coming out.

The music is well-flattered by this  delicate balance of grotesque and refined themes and visuals, because it is an incredibly free-form representation of an already quirky song, by an incredibly eccentric group.


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