The Lost Art of Narrative Music Videos

The Lost Art of Narrative Music Videos

Image by Thomas Budach from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, actually probably a couple of months ago, now that I think about it, an artist I have been following for a while dropped a music video. Ordinarily, I’d not really mention it here, though I do think the artist in question is extraordinary and the song is a bop, as the kids say. It wasn’t the song that kept me watching, however. Most times with music videos, I open them on my YouTube, then go to a different tab to do work.

Not this time.

What I watched wasn’t really a music video. I mean, it was a video and it did feature a single song, and was created for the specific purpose of presenting the song to the world. However, the video itself was a story – a short film. It had an inciting incident, the hero’s lowest point, and a satisfying conclusion. This tale was specifically, it was a short cyber-punk Robin Hood tale. The visuals were spectacular, the acting quite good (if somewhat melodramatic), and the story compelling.

Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

The artist is Dimash Qudaibergen, a young man from Kazakhstan who has been internet famous for a long time now. I’ve been following him since late 2017 or early 2018, and he has developed quite the devoted fan base. Uptake for him and his music in the mainstream in the West has been much slower to follow, but he’s going to explode shortly. He is insanely talented. The first time I heard him sing was for a competition in China. He sang S.O.S. d’un Terrien en Détresse and it left me in wracking sobs — the first time I had been so touched by music in a long time.

But I digress. The song I’m talking about today is called Golden, and the music video is something else. Here it is, in case you’re very curious:

This is not the first of his narrative SFF music videos, either. He has a few. One of my favorites, narratively speaking, is for The Love of Tired Swans. In case you’re curious about that music video, here it is:

I am absolutely down for these incredible narrative music videos. Especially those so clearly inspired by SFF.

It might be my imagination, but there seem to be fewer of them now than when I was a kid. You know, back in the days when MTV was actually about music. That’s not to say that they’re not getting done at all. Hosier’s Take Me to Church music video is a heart-breaking story. And there are a few notable examples in our recent musical history. In the 80s, Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time music video told a story. Michael Jackson was a king at making interesting, compelling narrative music videos (and Dimash has noted that MJ was one of his idols and influences).

I am so used to music videos that are simply footage of the artist singing/playing, or show images related to the song but with no real structure, that viewing these, essentially, short-format SFF films is absolutely arresting. I am living for music videos like these. I want more.

Surely these things must be eligible for some sort of SFF award in some sort of category?

Anyway, this is really nothing more than an appreciation post. I really appreciate these short-form SFF films. I wish we’d get more of them from more folks.

If you have any recommendations for music videos like these, leave them in the comments below!

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her most recent titles include ‘Daughters of Britain’ and ‘Skylark.’

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Derek Kunsken

Great post and examples! One of the recent ones I thought of where there’s a narrative woven in is Jocelyn Alice’s Jackpot (

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