Last year, Neilsen reported that music is consumed in the U.S. three times more through YouTube than via legal downloads. This year, in their survey of a few thousand high school students, they discovered that two thirds of them use videos to initially discover songs. When you are inclined to investigate new music, and Shazam isn’t the answer, what do you do? Remember when you heard that iPod nano commercial in 2008 that was all bubbly and made you do a shoulder dance even though you didn’t want to? … ‘I tried to do handstands for you/ but every time I fell for you-oo-oo-oo, oo-ooo-ow-woo-woo?’ If you looked it up, you weren’t alone. That’s Chairlift. And every version/cover/video of that song has millions of views.
Since then, this Brooklyn duo has made some some fun music and some seriously innovative videos. In 2009, their single “Evident Utensil” was nominated for an award in the “Breakthrough Video” category at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. It had the images all pixilated, was beautiful, and the concept was quickly stolen by Kanye. “Amanaemonesia” shows the singer, the striking Caroline Polachek, dancing in a skintight bodysuit, with some very weird animation in between. Still another is a creepy mix of a ballerina’s nervous breakdown/three bodies in trash bags that move on the floor like worms, and then ends….. if you watch the black screen for another minute and a half, you are rewarded by one last frame of the dancer, like she came back in the room and turned the light back on.
Polachek has said, “Film is the ultimate medium of our age”; she certainly has an eye for the visual, and Chairlift is now known for their music videos. It’s been a way for them to get a little extra attention, especially in a genre of hipster music where videos aren’t too prevalent. Storytelling is a powerful thing; it makes us not only remember, but in turn, recall it again to a friend. If something is worth repeating, then it not only made an impression on us, but it has stayed with us enough that we feel compelled to share it.
Which brings me to my point: Remember “Choose Your Own Adventure Books”? These tiny novels began a story, but then based on your choices, you determined the outcome. With the help of Director Jordan Fish, who worked with MGMT, and the creative-tech company m ss ng p eces, Chairlift made a high-tech interactive video for ‘Met Before’ in which the viewers click the arrow of their choice to determine the next scene. There have been a few attempts at this before (Riot in Paris did one in 2010), but none are as seamless as this. I haven’t played with it too much, but every time I have, a completely different thing happened. It makes me wish I had a desk job, it’s so fun. The song keeps playing without interruption, and you get to look at her beautiful face the whole time, which is a bonus. (Click below to get your weird personalized adventure on:)
So if all the kids are using videos anyway, why not give them something to talk about? This clever gimmick is not only a way to get a consumer to listen to the entire track, but it will more than likely prompt him or her to tell a friend to check it out. You can find all of Chairlift’s videos (including other versions of ‘Met Before”) at http://www.chairlifted.com.