A friend of mine just posted the video for “Hands Up in the Air” by Timbaland, ft. Ne-yo on Facebook, and I thought I’d check it out. Parts of the song as well as some of the footage were familiar to me, and maybe are to you, from previews for Step Up: Revolution. (There are various versions but this is one of the most in-depth.)
Now watch the video:
Putting aside the movie for a moment and looking at the music video, can I just say…WHAT!? If I were the director I would be embarrassed. The video is completely incoherent, possibly due to its attempt to be simultaneously autonomous and an advertisement for the movie. I am reserving judgment on the actual song until I hear it again, but it seems to have a somewhat similar incoherence…though I’m not a music buff.
This is certainly not the first time that specific songs have been tightly connected to dance movies–or even the first time that clips from the movie have appeared in the music video for the song (although I can’t think of any specific instances and I’m trying to write this quickly so I don’t abandon it like the other posts in my drafts folder). But here’s one of my favorite songs that was highly connected with Step Up 2–“Church” by T-Pain.
I actually haven’t seen the second Step Up, but you can see that this video has a sort of Step Up/Dance film kind of aesthetic, without referencing the actually scene the song was used in, and it’s all in a coherent setting.
As far as “Hands Up in the Air” goes…it’s not that it’s unusual to cut between different settings, scenarios, or even moods within a single video. Nor do I ascribe to some kind of strictly narrative genre of music video. But I do hope for a general theme or aesthetic that serves to hold disjointed editing and footage together. What we have here instead is complete disjunction; neither the same people, movement, costumes, settings, nor even type of footage recur or offer a throughline.
What do I mean by type of footage? Well, hopefully you can see it yourself in that video, but as an example, think about how different it is to watch a sit com than to see a movie in the theater, or even between SD and HD digital footage, let alone a 35mm or 16mm film camera.
In switching between the footage from the film and the new video footage, they’re mixing different types/quality of footage, and it just looks silly, if you ask me. In the end it’s functional neither as an advertisement for the movie nor as one for the song and artists it promotes. It does show how interconnected our media is, though I am curious about the lack of overt labeling of the song’s connection to the movie.
Thoughts on the movie to follow, hopefully soon!