“Word Crimes” by Weird “Al” Yankovic and Jarrett Heather

"Word Crimes" by Weird "Al" Yankovic
Open “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Jarrett Heather

“Word Crimes”  is an official music video designed and animated by Jarrett Heather for “Weird Al” Yankovic.  The video uses kinetic typography and evocative visual images to reinforce the didactic tone.  The song is a parody of Robin Thicke’s own “Blurred Lines” employing its catchy tune, lyric structure, and even typography (as in the case of the hashtags) repurposed tosatirizes common ways that language is used incorrectly in writing.

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”Debaser” by Pixies

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 6.39.06 PM
Open “Debaser” video by Pixies

Pixies is an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, originally formed in 1986. The band started releasing music videos after their second studio album Doolittle in 1989, but ‘’Debaser,” the first track of this album, wasn’t released as a single until 1997. This is the only one of their videos, to date, to feature kinetic typography.

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“#SELFIE-LYRICS” by The Chainsmokers and Coralee

Screen capture from "#SELFIE-LYRICS" by Coralee and The Chainsmokers. Image of a youtube video displaying large white text against a black background. Text: "ratchet"
Open “#SELFIE-LYRICS” by Coralee and The Chainsmokers (video embedded below)

After the release of the viral EDM hit “#SELFIE”, internet commenters were swift and brutal in their typically over-dramatic detraction of the song, citing it as yet another argument for “the death of music” due to it’s purportedly vapid, idiotic lyrics and “cookie-cutter” beats. In spite of this, the single topped several worldwide dance charts and the official music video stands at 90 million views at the time of writing. After its meteoric rise, YouTube user Coralee created a minimalist video which displayed the lyrics in perfect synchronization with the song itself, one word at a time. While the concept itself is hardly novel–  lyric videos on YouTube are extremely common– the execution is a stimulating piece of kinetic typography which offers a charming microcosm of the nexus between Generation Y(.O.L.O.)’s party culture and the proliferation of social networking.

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“Rubber Traits” by Why?

Screen capture of "Rubber Traits" by Why? A dog drools the lyrics to the song next to a razorblade; a pug with a human mouth (mustache included) sings the words of the song. Text: "A Blade / But I want... / But I want... / Oooo"
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Indie rock/ alternative hip-hop band Why? has always prided itself on befuddling listeners with a distinct blend of unorthodox beats, lyrics that fluctuate between rap and the nonsensical, and a surreal approach to their melodies. “Rubber Traits,” although one of their “poppier” singles, does not disappoint in this respect. The single touches on lead singer Yoni’s frequent bouts with depression, yet the video utilizes kinetic typography to complement Why?’s eccentric musical stylings, which underscores the bands ability to display a valiant sense of humor despite the lyrical content being weighty.

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“Right Action” by Franz Ferdinand

Screen capture from "Right Action" by Franz Ferdinand. Cyan background with four grey arms holding each other to form a square. Text: "Right Action"
Open “Right Action” by Franz Ferdinand

“Right Action” is a music video that incorporates static and kinetic typography from Scottish alternative rock band Franz Ferdinand. In the video, as the band performs the song, the music video progressively shows the viewer the lyrics to the song, every time with a different variation as to the form of how the word is written out. Aside from the typography, the music video also contains various images that appear to associate themselves one way or another with the lyrics of the song. When the band is shown in the video they are blended into the background while the images that cover both the background and the foreground of the video have brilliant colors, attracting more attention to the images and typography than the band itself. The blend of typography, color schemes, and almost subliminal messages through its images makes the video keep the viewer ever so attentive.

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“Take it” by Wilton Azevedo

Still from "Take it" by Wilton Acevedo
Still from “Take it” by Wilton Azevedo

Take it (2013) is a digital videopoem created by the Brazilian digital poet Wilton Azevedo. Conceived originally in English, this videopoem consists of video images that intertwine the verses constantly moving across frame according to the soundtrack frequency through an interface with a Processing script.

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“Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green, et al.

Still from "Fuck You" by Cee-Lo Green
Open “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green

This video for Cee-Lo Green’s 2010 hit song “Fuck You” uses kinetic typography to deliver and emphasize its lyrics in perfect synchronization with the song.

Kinetic typography has a rich tradition in film and television, particularly title sequences (as discussed recently in this entry), as well as in electronic literature (there are currently 288 entries of works categorized as kinetic in I ♥ E-Poetry). Different digital technologies have allowed writers to animate language, going back as far as bp Nichol’s “First Screening” (1984) using Applesoft Basic. In addition to programming or creating animated GIFs, authoring programs like Macromedia (now Adobe) Director, Flash, and Adobe After Effects placed sophisticated animation tools for writers to make words dance during the 1990s until the present. Adobe After Effects has long been used for video compositing and kinetic typography, producing video output that was delivered primarily through television, cable, and film. These rise of streaming video services, such as YouTube and Vimeo in 2005 and their integration with social media (or development as social media) have brought this genre to the masses, who are now developing abundant works and communities, and catching the attention of mainstream media.

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