Literal Music Videos

Ransom Riggs

Everyone knows music videos are a little silly: candles, dry ice and miles of white silk in the romantic ones; incomprehensible plotting in the serious ones; dancing girls that appear out of nowhere. They're usually an afterthought to the song itself, a marketing promotion forced upon reluctant artists. But what if it were the other way around, and instead of the video being made to fit the song, the song were made to fit the video? Welcome to the weird world of "literal music videos," the latest viral video meme. Unlike most video memes -- like the Hitler subtitle videos -- literal music videos aren't easy to make. You have to dig up a kareoke version of the song with no singing on it, then re-write and re-record the vocals yourself (or have a talented, soundalike friend do it). This is where most literal videos hit the wall -- they're trying to ridicule the music video but they sound too ridiculous themselves. But there are a handful of great ones, which I'll share here today.

An across-the-board favorite seems to have cropped up amongst the bloggerati: this literal video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heels" is pretty sweet, too.

Here's a literal reinterpretation of A-Ha's "Take on Me" --

And the classic-but-ridiculous video for Billy Idol's "White Wedding" was crying out for parody:

The literal video for Radiohead's "No Surprises" is fun. Except that lines like "Now I am completely submerged / Why am I singing in a fish tank?" don't sound all that different from regular Radiohead lyrics.

This one isn't great, but it was inevitable -- the literal Rickroll. (What the hell's a Rickroll? This.)