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Rolling Stones: The Best Live Performances on Video

They’re baaaaack! The Rolling Stones, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s longest running major act, is hitting the road again, for the umpteenth time. The Rolling Stones North American tour of 18 shows was kicked off in New York.
Rolling-Stones-currentNow celebrating 50 years as a performing act, the Rolling Stones have played to the biggest audiences in Rock ‘n’ Roll, including a Brazil show attended by more than a million spectators. (Photo: Mark Seliger)

If you can make it, do yourself a favor and see the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band of All Time” while you can. But if you can’t get to the shows, here’s an overview of some of the band’s best performances on video, all of which show why this group has consistently been the most exciting live act in all of Rock music.

Song: “I’m All Right”
Year: 1964
DVD: The T.A.M.I. Show
Why It’s A Classic: James Brown and Mick Jagger compete to see who rules the stage.
The Performance: A classic Rock ‘n’ Roll movie, The T.A.M.I. Show brought together a huge number of top performers. In a moment of heated backstage drama, the Stones were chosen to close the show—a decision that didn’t please master showman James Brown, who taunted the band: “I’m gonna make you Rollin’ Stones wish you’d never left England.” Brown’s set is absolutely amazing; he later claimed he never danced faster in his life. He dances with a vengeance.
Mick-Jagger-and-James-Brown
Not-so-friendly rivals? Jagger had to figure out a way to out-perform James Brown, the greatest showman of the 1960s.

The Stones followed with five songs, finishing with this simple early rave-up. About two minutes in, Jagger settles the song down (despite the full-throttle screams of what sounds like a million teenage girls), then builds it back up, bit by bit. “I’m all right…” he sings over and over, changing the inflections and increasing the intensity each of the 15 times he sings the lyric. Finally, he’s screaming it.
Rolling-Stones-early-riot
Three songs and a riot: The crazy early days, when Rock stars had to run for their lives.

Pretty soon, Jagger’s moving his head as wildly as the maracas he’s shaking. Mayhem ensues and the crowd goes nuts. Jagger couldn’t out-dance James Brown, but he out-performed him all the same. This performance demonstrates the thrilling frenzy the band could generate live. The Stones’ early shows were all the same, according to deadpan drummer Charlie Watts: “Three songs and then a riot would break out.”

Song: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Year: 1966
DVD: The Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: The band’s top track, back when the song was still creating a sensation.
The Performance: It’s a riff that still stops you in your tracks. The opening guitar growl that announces “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is one of the most identifiable and iconic pieces of popular music. The breakthrough song went to Number One (the band’s first) during the boiling hot summer of 1965. It’s all here: the famous fuzz-tone guitar, the snarling attitude, the amazing lyrics—which poke fun at American advertising.
Satisfaction-single
The shot heard ’round the world. 1965′s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” became the group’s breakthrough hit.

This February 13, 1966, performance on the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show did more to introduce this band to American audiences than any other. You can tell the band isn’t lip-synching by guitarist Keith Richards’ harmony singing and the extreme fuzz-tone effect box he was clicking on and off with his boot for the beginning riff and the chorus. See why “Satisfaction” is still the Rolling Stones’ signature song, and why “Rolling Stone” magazine selected the song as the second-greatest Rock song of all time.

Song: “Midnight Rambler”
Year: 1972
DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: Over-the-top showmanship meets gut-bucket Blues in a brutal live version filmed during the band’s peak.
The Performance: By 1972, there was little debate about which was the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world. Any doubts were steamrolled over when video footage from the Stones’ 1972 tour was collected in this 1974 film. The band is in amazing condition and this tour probably represents its peak as a touring unit. Performances like these are why people started calling the Stones the best band in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rolling-Stones-live-1972
By 1972, the Stones were peaking, as Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones clearly proves.

Perennial live favorite “Midnight Rambler” is given a particularly aggressive workout, showcasing the interplay between singer Jagger and drummer Watts. This performance from Fort Worth, Texas, shows the sheer musical power that the Stones can generate, especially when they stretch out on a number, as they do on this 11-minute version, which is almost double the length of the original album cut. Seeing is believing. See it and you will believe…and you will be exhausted.

Song: “Shattered”
Year: 1978
DVD: Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78 (Bonus Feature)
Why It’s A Classic: An early Stones comeback that charted all the other comebacks still to come.
The Performance: By 1978, a lot of Rock fans were giving up on the band, which suffered some creative ups and downs during the 70s. The Stones responded by embracing the two breakout musical genres of the era…Disco and Punk. The album that addressed both styles, as well as the band’s usual roots Rock ‘n’ Roll, was called Some Girls. It remains the band’s biggest selling album and is now generally considered a modern masterpiece and perhaps the band’s final masterwork.
Rolling-Stones-live-1978
The Stones hit Saturday Night Live like a “crossfire hurricane” back in 1978.

The studio audience at Saturday Night Live was primed to see the band in action on October 7, 1978, and the Stones brought the heat. During a manic, dizzying three-song set, the band showed itself to be in fierce condition and taking no prisoners. When the Stones careen into “Shattered” (the pumping final track from Some Girls), the band uses its go-for-broke power to push the set to its logical conclusion. By the end, Jagger is hopping about wildly, like a lab monkey that’s grown addicted to mild electric shocks. This sizzling performance was proof positive that you could never count out the Rolling Stones…and you still never can.

Song: “Happy”
Year: 1991
DVD: Live: At the Max
Why It’s A Classic: Keith pushes it to the limit and demonstrates why he’s a guitar riff-master.
The Performance: Keith Richards is more than just the Stones’ primary rhythm guitarist. He’s also the co-writer of some of the greatest Rock standards of all time, an occasional vocalist and one of music’s most colorful and funniest characters—kind of a mix of a cowboy and pirate. (True: Johnny Depp based his Jack Sparrow on his friend Richards, who even played Sparrow’s father in 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.)
Rolling-Stones-Keith-Richards
Part cowboy, part pirate…all Rocker. Keith Richards “runs the kitchen” for the mighty Stones.

“Happy” is Richards’ personal statement, and what an outlaw anthem it is: “I never kept a dollar past sunset,” he brags. “It always burned a hole in my pants.” About two minutes in he casually yells, “Let’s get out, Ronnie,” to Ron Wood (the Stones’ other guitarist), signaling that it’s time to bring the song home. Which Richards then proceeds to do, with about a minute of blistering lead guitar that demonstrates his ingenuity as one of Rock’s greatest guitar gunslingers.

Still Rolling, Still Ruling
Part of why the Rolling Stones are great is because they still reflect their earliest influences, but another part has to do with the band’s ability to sound fresh. Through its ongoing work with producer Don Was, the Rolling Stones are able to use their mastery of music production skills to keep them at the top of the music business.

Learning music production can help put you at the top of the pop charts, too. But where do you learn music production on the same tools that the pros use? Look no further than Digital Media Academy, which offers cutting-edge music camps for the digital age. DMA’s Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production camp will teach you how to create your own rhythms for Rock, Hip-Hop, Dance, Electronica, Dubstep and other types of music. Plus, campers get to develop bass lines and use MIDI keyboards to make their own tracks. Look out, Mick. The kids are gunning for you.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured,Music Production and have No Comments

Sound City: Review

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is a film festival like no other. The festival features films from all walks of life. Including rock n’ roll.
dave-grohl-sound-cityBehind the soundboard at Sound City.

Sound City marks rocker Dave Grohl’s directorial debut. In the film he documents the past four decades of music through the eyes of soundboard on which many 70s and 80s hits were recorded. It’s a melodic journey through pop music history. The classic Neve sound is featured on countless hit records by artists including Steely DanNirvanaPink FloydDire StraitsQuincy JonesGeorge ClintonChick CoreaThe Ataris.

At that time the board “lived” at Sound City, a famous recording studio formerly located in Van Nuys, California, outside of L.A. That’s where the board was when it recorded Fleetwood Mac’s 70s watershed album Rumors, as well as Nirvana’s 90s breakthrough Nevermind. Other artists who have recorded with the board include Classic Rock superstars like Elton John and Neil Young, plus more recent acts, such as Arctic Monkeys and Deathcab for Cutie.

All-Star Jam Session
Sound City is an epic documentary that gives you a unique look into the lives and careers of major artists like Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Trent Reznor and Paul McCartney. Watching Sound City is to be immersed in the evolution of Pop/Rock music all the way up through the present. Not only are these historic artists interviewed, but they also jam and record with Grohl—once again using the famous Neve analog console.

Neve-Sound-City
This rare vintage custom Neve 8078 40-channel deck was originally hand-built by Neve in 1978 for CBS Sony’s main studio in Japan. The console now resides at The Way Recording Studio in London.

Of course, Grohl is not just a chronicler of this history; he’s a significant part of it, too. He first recorded at Sound City as the drummer of the ultimate Grunge band, Nirvana, then later as the lead singer of the Foo Fighters. He witnessed the aftermath of the digital revolution and not only offers a unique look into the music industry, but also provides a stark commentary on the effects of digital media on the arts.

Make Music History Yourself
Music production has progressed pretty significantly over the past few decades. Todays artists are still focused on capturing the perfect sound. Watching Grohl pick through the historic notes in the rock n’ roll documentary Sound City is like learning Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production from inside the studio. One thing’s for certain, no matter what genre of music you’re into you should definitely check out this film.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Making the Jimi Hendrix Movie: Will Anyone “Experience” It?

Rock guitar god Jimi Hendrix lived a troubled life…so maybe it’s fitting that making a Jimi Hendrix movie is also a rocky experience. That’s the tale of the new Hendrix biopic, which so far has been a film production nightmare.  
Here’s a first look at Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix in the new film “All is By My Side.”

Tentatively titled “All is By My Side,” the new bio will be set in 1966 England, during the recording of Hendrix’s brilliant debut album, “Are You Experienced.” However, fans expecting to hear trademark Hendrix hits from the album (like “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady”) may be disappointed.

All Along the Watchtower
John Ridley, the film’s director, is facing a legal stand-offs with Experience Hendrix LLC, the family estate that continues to oversee all things Hendrix—everything from T-shirt merchandise to the latest reissues of Hendrix albums.

Experience Hendrix LLC is run by Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix, who issued the following statement on the matter: “The family-owned company entrusted with safeguarding the legacy of Jimi Hendrix, and administrator of the music and publishing catalogue, has made it known many times in the past that no such film, were it to include original music or copyrights created by Jimi Hendrix, can be undertaken without Experience Hendrix LLC’s full participation.”

That’s not to say that the family estate will outright forbid a movie, but it has expressed that the estate would need to be actively consulted from the get-go. “The EH LLC board have not ruled out a ‘biopic’ in the future. Though producing partners would, out of necessity, have to involve the company from the inception of any such film project if it is to include original Jimi Hendrix music or compositions.”


Hendrix’s debut masterpiece was as much a part of 67′s “Summer of Love” as The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”…and just as revolutionary.

So the question remains: How do you tell the story of one of Rock Music’s greatest albums without playing any of the music from it? For his part, director Ridley has indicated that he will rely upon archived footage of Hendrix live performances and personal interviews.

Beyond that, he may reach an “understanding” with Experience Hendrix which provides clearances for some of Jimi’s music. Audiences will have to wait to find out; the movie has only started shooting in Ireland and is set for a 2013 release.

The Life of a Rock Star
Despite a brief and troubled life, the music of master guitarist Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) endures to this day, inspiring new generations of music fans and those that want to learn how to be a hit music producer. Although he only recorded for about three years, his musical legacy (which includes Rock ‘n’ Roll, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic Rock, Funk and Jazz)  has endured long beyond nearly all of his contemporaries.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Who is Robert Moog?

He was the Steve Jobs of Electronica. Robert Moog created the Moog synthesizer, one of the very first electronic musical instruments. And recently Google’s Doodle celebrated the 78th birthday of this electronic genius with–believe it or not–an actual working synthesizer.


The Google Doodle for May 23, 2012 is an interactive Moog synthesizer.  

A Sound Idea
The Moog synthesizer has drifted in and out of style, first coming to prominence during the time of its creation and greatest use–the 60s and 70s. It was patented in the mid 60s, and then was utilized in classic hits from all kinds of music – from The Beatles classic “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” to The Doors “Strange Days,” which was one of the earliest uses of the Moog synth. 

More recently, app developers and independent creators who learn how to develop iPhone and iPad apps, have made apps that re-create the classic synthesizer. It’s amazing to see this old-school analog technology being adapted in the digital age. More interestingly, how the lower price of the “digital version” of the keyboard has made it more accessible.


Bob Moog at his workbench building another synth. 

The Moog keyboard has been a staple of modern music since its creation and continues to inspire and bring to life great music. Let’s take a look back at some Moog classics:

  • The Doors “Strange Days” (1967) One of the earliest uses of a Moog synth, this song features the moody sound of the instrument (played to perfection by the band’s keyboardist, Ray Manzarek) rolling behind Jim Morrison’s booming voice.
  • The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1969) The “Abbey Road” album has several Moog songs, but none as amazing as the closing track on Side One, where a building wall of synthesized white noise finally overtakes the song.
  • Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” (1975) The progressive space-rock group’s classic ode to loneliness is delivered using the Moog sound.
  • Donna Summer “I Feel Love” (1977) The recently departed Queen of Disco melted turntables with this pulsating romantic song, whose main sound is the Moog (played by keyboardist Giorgio Moroder).
  • Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1979) Blondie charted an international Number One single (it sold nearly 3.5 million copies) with this New Wave/Disco song. It features not only a Moog synthesizer but it’s also the first use of a Roland CR-78 drum machine on recorded single.
  • Coldplay “Paradise” (2011) The band uses a wide range of synth sounds on this track, along with its traditional piano and guitar attack.

Numerous other artists and bands have created tracks with a Moog synthesizer, including musical acts as diverse as the Beastie Boys, Parliament, Santana, Stevie Wonder and The Doors. More recently, artists like Deadmau5 and Alicia Keys have also been spotted using a Moog.

Watch Brett Domino play Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic using the Google synth. 

Living in an Electronic World
Although his invention was embraced by musicians around the world (even today by students eager to learn music production or those who want to learn how to make your own beats), Robert Moog remained humble, stating “I’m an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers. They use my tools.”

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured and have No Comments

What’s the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band Ever? (Part 2)

And The Winner Is…
We recently undertook the task of figuring out who was the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll of all time. The conclusion? The Rolling Stones.


The four core members of The Rolling Stones: (from left) Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.

Here are five reasons the “lads from London” are the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band ever:

1. Endurance
July 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones’ first gig (at London’s Marquee Club). In all likelihood, the band will commemorate the occasion with a 2013 tour. Industry analysts are already predicting that a 50th Anniversary Tour will become the most profitable music tour of all time. No other Rock ‘n’ Roll band of this stature has lasted this long. Put in perspective, The Beatles existed for only about 10 years, or just one-fifth the amount of time The Stones have been playing together. The Stones have outlasted the administrations of eight U.S. presidents.

And the band has lived through one technological advance after another; The Stones started out appearing on black-and-white television, then prospered on MTV during the 80s music-video explosion and now have taken up permanent residence online. (The Rolling Stones was also the first big act to broadcast a concert via the Internet, when a 20-minute video was “streamed” in 1994.) Many passing fads have come and gone during this time, yet The Stones remain as steady and unchanging as the Rock of Gibraltar. The group is one of the few musical acts to chart Number One albums in three separate decades—yet more proof of its enduring appeal.


The five-decade writing partnership between Jagger and Richards has created some of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most durable songs. The pair produces music under the name “The Glimmer Twins.”

2. You Can’t Get Them Out of Your Head
Tune in to any Classic Rock channel and you’ll hear reason after reason why The Stones are our top pick. The group’s signature tunes (and there are many) include “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Brown Sugar,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Paint It, Black,” “Wild Horses,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Gimme Shelter,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Angie,” “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “Miss You,” “Shattered” and the list rolls on and on.

Aside from its long string of hit singles (which includes nine Number One smashes), the group has racked up an amazing number of album sales. Among the 24 studio albums, 12 live albums and various compilation albums, The Stones have amassed worldwide sales topping 200 million albums. Beyond that, starting with “Sticky Fingers,” the group had eight straight albums hold the Number One spot on the U.S. charts.

3. The Live Performances
The Stones’ last tour is now considered the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning $558 million. During this tour alone, some 4.6 million fans caught one of the band’s 147 shows. Calculating the total number of people who have seen The Rolling Stones in concert over the decades is probably impossible, but some estimates have claimed the band has played between 2,000 and 2,500 total full-scale concerts, which excludes television appearances and similar gigs. (Another way to think about that total is one show per night, every night…for almost seven straight years.)

In addition, The Stones played the single biggest concert ever, when its February 2006 concert on the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was attended by an estimated 1.5 million people. At this point, it’s safe to assume that The Rolling Stones have played Rock ‘n’ Roll music live to more human beings than any other group ever. And each and every audience member has gotten their money’s worth.


The cover of The Stones’ sprawling 1972 epic “Exile on Main Street,” which “The ‘Rolling Stone’ Album Guide” called “the best double album in rock & roll history.”

4. Artistic Achievement
Judging artistic achievement can be tricky, because it’s partly a subjective exercise. Nonetheless, over time a critical consensus is reached about the worth of certain works of art. And among Rock ‘n’ Roll acts, no other outfit can match The Stones for musical masterpieces—not even The Beatles, whose classic works really consist of five albums (“Rubber Soul” (‘65), “Revolver” (‘66), “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (‘67), “The Beatles” which is usually called “The White Album” (‘68) and “Abbey Road” (‘69)).

Meanwhile, The Rolling Stones have made no fewer than eight albums which are now considered undisputed Rock ‘n’ Roll masterpieces: “The Rolling Stones, Now!” (‘65), “Aftermath” (‘66), “Beggars Banquet” (‘68), “Let it Bleed” (‘69), “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” (‘70), “Sticky Fingers” (‘71), “Exile on Main Street” (’72) and “Some Girls” (‘78). The Stones’ five-year period between 1968 and 1972 is considered one of the greatest creative streaks Rock ‘n’ Roll music has ever seen.

5. Consistent Personnel
No major older band still retains its original line-up, but The Stones come close. Three of the original five members (lead vocalist Mick Jagger, rhythm guitar genius Keith Richards and master drummer Charlie Watts) are still active. Even the band’s replacement members have been around for a long time.

Guitarist Ron Wood, for example, has been playing with the group since the mid-70s—more than 35 years. Even “newcomer” bassist Darryl Jones, who replaced original member Bill Wyman, has been with the band for nearly 20 years. Only two members of the group ever officially quit, and Richards has repeatedly stated that The Rolling Stones is a lifetime gig. (“The only way out of this band is in a box,” he once quipped.)


Secret Weapon: Drummer Charlie Watts, seen here on stage and behind plexiglass screens containing that show’s set list.

Keepers of the Flame
Although The Rolling Stones have assimilated other forms of music into its overall sound, at its core the band has remained faithful to its Blues-steeped influences. (The band was named after a song by Blues legend Muddy Waters, as was Dylan’s classic “Like a Rolling Stone” and the magazine “Rolling Stone.”) Even now, whenever he travels, Keith Richards carries Chuck Berry’s entire body of music with him—so obsessed is he with the great early rocker. And like the great Blues artists, The Rolling Stones have always planned to carry on playing their unique style of music even into their senior years. Back in 1972, an interviewer asked Mick Jagger if he could see imagine himself still belting out “Satisfaction” on stage in his sixties. “Yeah, easily” replied Jagger, without hesitating for a single second. And on they roll.

The Debate Rages On
Music lovers root for their favorite bands like sports fans supporting their preferred team. Emotions can run high, because music is precious to nearly everybody. No wonder so many young people want to learn music production and join the recording industry.

What do you think is the greatest band of all time? Oh yeah? Well maybe you’d like to step outside and settle this thing once and for all…

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posted by Phill Powell in Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Greatest Music Videos of All Time

Using music and video together as a medium to tell a story can be a very powerful tool for communicating a message. Today filmmakers and musicians add Hollywood visual effects and other fancy tricks to make music videos have impact, but the pioneers of the format used their imaginations to push music videos to all new heights:

Artist: Bob Dylan
Song: “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965/1967)

Bob Dylan, the Voice of His Generation, trying not to look bored in the groundbreaking music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” (The bearded guy to the left is poet Allen Ginsberg, author of the Beat classic “Howl.”)

How It Changed Music Videos: It was the first modern music video built around an artistic concept. The primitive black-and-white film was made to promote the song – the video was initially created for the 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary “Don’t Look Back,” which shadowed Dylan as he toured England during 1965.

It’s a pretty simple idea really, but one that has struck a chord with several generations of rock audiences. A guy stands in an alley holding a stack of cue cards. The audio from a rambunctious folk rock song starts to blast, each line of which is a non-stop barrage of hipster verbiage (example: “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine/I’m on the pavement thinking about the government”).

As the video progresses, the guy in it, rock poet Bob Dylan, drops each cue card after its corresponding piece of lyric has been sung in the audio. Dylan does not sing or perform the song. In fact, he shows no particular emotion, except mild irritation and boredom. When he runs out of cue cards, he just walks out of the camera frame, leaving puzzled audiences to try and figure out what it all meant.

Artist: Michael Jackson
Song: “Thriller” (1984)

With Quincy Jones-produced rhythms and Michael Jackson as a zombie, “Thriller” proved to be a genuine media event.

How It Changed Music Videos: By 1984, MTV had taken over control of the music industry; at this point, a new album or single had to have a top-notch video. Michael Jackson took the challenge and ran with it, making this first single song video epic from what would become the decade’s biggest album.

Jackson brought on film director John Landis to oversee the project. Landis was already a Hollywood power-player, having directed “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Trading Places,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “An American Werewolf in London” before tackling “Thriller.” For the video he was given a half-million dollar budget.

Jackson made multiple music videos to promote several tracks, but the “Thriller” music video was more than just a regular video, adding eight minutes of additional narrative to the song’s six-minute length. Thematically, “Thriller” was a G-rated creep show with a disco beat and which featured a vocal cameo by Hollywood horror legend Vincent Price.

The video was so popular that MTV was eventually airing the 14-minute video twice per hour. Jackson was hailed as a creative genius for his own remarkable dancing, as well as arranging the zombie choreography.

The video helped propel sales of the “Thriller” album to 110 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling album of all time. Never again would either Jackson or the music video be so big.

Artist: Nirvana
Song: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)

Grunge started here…with deliberately low production standards.

How It Changed Music Videos: As the 80s progressed, video production techniques improved. Inspired by the massive success of “Thriller,” the trend toward lavishly produced videos continued. But not every musical act wanted to create an ultra-slick music video. Enter Seattle’s Nirvana in the early 90s, with a Punk-like desire to avoid seeming to be “corporate.”

So when the first Grunge band of note got ready to produce a music video for the breakout hit from its powerhouse album Nevermind, it had definite ideas about what it wanted. For its director, the band selected first-timer Samuel Bayer…specifically because he didn’t have much experience. Kurt Cobain (accurately) assumed Bayer would be technically inept and the resulting footage would have a raw, undisciplined quality.

The song became a major Alternative anthem and the music video a smashing success. Nirvana won numerous MTV Music Awards in 1992 and the Guinness Book of Records considers the video the most played music video on MTV Europe. In 2001, VH1 named it the fourth-greatest music video of all time.

Artist: Beastie Boys
Song: “Sabotage” (1994)

“Sabotage,” a loud and abrasive triumph of threat-screaming rage, was paired with the hilarious visual concept of the opening credits of a (fake) 70s police show.

How It Changed Music Videos: Part cop-show homage, part rock/rap blaster, the Beastie Boys’ greatest video was 100 percent pure fun.

The Beastie Boys were always highly creative when it came to making music videos. But the group’s signature music-video moment was directed by genius director Spike Jonze, who took a one-chord shouter from the “Ill Communication” album and turned it into music-video gold.

An instant classic upon release, the “Sabotage” music video was nominated in five different categories at the 1994 MTV Music Awards, yet took home no awards. However, fifteen years later, when the new category of “Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)” was introduced, the very first recipient was “Sabotage.”

Artist: Johnny Cash
Song: “Hurt” (2003)

“Hurt” is a song about reaching conclusions and sifting through all of what has come before.

How It Changed Music Videos: Plenty of “serious” music videos have attempted to make a statement, but none more powerful than this stark goodbye from the Man in Black. Nobody expected the most powerful music video of its year to feature the great Johnny Cash, then working in his sixth decade as a recording artist. But then, nobody had expected Cash to make one of the biggest musical comebacks of all time during the 90s, suddenly becoming wildly popular with fans young enough to be his grandchildren.

For the music video, director Mark Romanek used extensive footage and photographs from throughout Cash’s life, which were contrasted with footage of the 71-year-old man. Cash was weak and facing a range of health problems at the time.

The combination of music and visual images made the “Hurt” video one of the most powerful music-video experiences ever. The video received the 2004 Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and was listed as CMT’s top video for 2003 as well as the Number One greatest country music video for the following year.

In July 2011 New Music Express named it the best video of all time. Sadly, Cash himself didn’t get to see the video’s massive success; the Man in Black passed away seven months after the video was produced.

Make Your Own Landmark Videos
Music videos represent a perfect intersection between two wonderful art forms – but bringing the two together requires talent to create a quality video. It takes training, too, and learning how to make a music video is the perfect place to start. If you want to learn music & video production you need hands-on training in digital audio, music and beat production, and filmmaking skills, too. Once you have a good grasp of those things, you can take your idea and turn it into an award-winning and groundbreaking music video.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Music Production,Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments