I’ve chosen to write about music videos, specifically those for contemporary R&B music. Contemporary R&B, which today is just called R&B, uses a mixture of elements from various music genres, including rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, and hip hop. Some people call R&B “urban contemporary” music. Today, the use of hip hop and dance beats are most commonly used, and mainstream R&B’s sound is mainly based on rhythm. The abbreviation “R&B” originated from rhythm and blues music that had become popular in the 1970s. R&B is most commonly performed by African-Americans, and originated in the 1980s after the end of disco music’s popularity. The mixture of R&B with hip-hop has increased in the 21st century, with some recording artists also combining traditional R&B with different pop styles.
Music videos have 5 main genres: performance, story driven, special effects, dance, and animation. R&B music videos most commonly use performance, story driven, and dance video forms. Performance videos typically show the artist or band giving a live performance of their song in different settings that give the video a specific theme. These are beneficial in that they allow the artist to control the energy of the piece. For example, Rihanna’s music video for her song “Only Girl (In The World)” falls into the performance genre, depicting Rihanna singing in a field of flowers and other locations that give the video a surreal, whimsical theme.
Story driven music videos depict a narrative that plays out to the lyrics of the music, emphasizing the words the artists are singing. Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s music video for their song “Dilemma” uses the lyrics the artists are singing with the visual shots of the two artists to tell a story of their love for each other and their desire to be together, but how they end up with different people in the end. In Rihanna’s music video for “Unfaithful,” she is the only person singing. The video tells the story of her infidelity to her boyfriend and its effects on him.
Dance music videos depict the artist and sometimes others dancing to the beat of the music in different locations. While this form of video requires a lot of time because of the choreography involved, it allows the artist to show off their dancing skills, and the choreography emphasizes the rhythm of the music. An example of a dance R&B music video with a group of dancers is Chris Brown’s “Run It” music video. On the other hand, Cassie’s “Me & U” music video shows the artist dancing alone.
The purpose of creating a music video is to increase the fan base for the artist and make the artist more money. The most important reason for an artist producing a music video, however, is to establish an artist’s identity and shape the way that people see that artist. The intended audience for R&B music video’s is generally African-American; R&B music was even originally termed “race music.” However, these music videos also have a non-African American fan base, and focus on pop beats and culture that appeal to a wider audience.