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Interactive Music Videos

The interactive music video is a genre that constantly reinvents itself, so it’s beyond high time for an update. Watching what was made over the course of 2015-2016, I noticed a thing or two:


  • You’re never too old, too famous, or too classic to make an interactive music video. Bob Dylan did so three years ago. In 2015, Duran Duran and Led Zeppelin joined the club.
  • 360 Degree panoramic videos are still in fashion.
    See for example Foals, Bjork, Avicii, and Infinite.
  • I could fill an entire top 5 with Interlude productions.
    Interlude had you zapping through TV channels while listening to Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”, remember? These guys are eliminating all competition. Seriously, did you check their portfolio?
  • Interactive + Lyric Music Videos = BIG LOVE.
    What to call this 2015 love child? Lyinteractive? Interlyric? Point is: we’re bound to see more interactive lyric videos. See: CeeLo Green, Azealia Banks and the above mentioned Duran Duran.
  • Creatives started really thinking outside the bo… err screen!
    Yung Jake – Both required two iPhones and Snapchat to watch. And this Android app for Kimbra’s “Carolina” invited people to go on an abstract virtual road trip. Not to mention production studio Colonel Blimp turning Channel 4 viewers into directors by having them select the scenes to be featured in Years & Years’ “Shine” promo via tweets.
  • There’s a chemistry between interactive music videos and fashion films.
    For instance, Australian fashion brand David Jones’ commercial was created using cameras triggered by the music of Daniel Johns.

Maria Dicieanu’s list of absolute must see interactive music videos:

1. Coldplay – Ink

Coldplay - Ink interactive music video

Launched towards the end of 2014 (but enjoying its virality in 2015), Coldplay’s “Ink” showed we can never have enough of those choose-your-adventure videos. Exploiting a classical concept, “Ink” only asks of its users to make apparently simple choices like, choosing the left or the right path, going up or down, following the man or the woman, picking the bear or the bird. Pretty straight-forward, you’d think. Yet the resulted narratives are not only very complete stories, but also surprisingly different. We can for instance choose to have the character obsessing over a lost love or, on the contrary, on a journey of rediscovering himself and making peace with his past. What’s truly remarkable about this promo however, is the very strong connection between the visuals and the music, which increases the users’ engagement making the whole experience not just about seeing, but also about feeling.

2. Led Zeppelin – Trampled Under Foot

Led Zeppelin - Trampled Under Foot interactive music video

Too much like Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”? Maybe. Zepp’s promo got a bit trampled under the foot and failed to go viral. Unjustly so, as Interlude delivered once again. Based on the original artwork for the album Physical Graffiti, director Hal Kirkland (of Hibi No Neiro fame) imagines what’s hidden behind the windows of the building featured on the album cover. Stories range from recordings with the band watched by kids, an animated angel flying in a fancy basement, a couple making out in an vintage style living room, a space ship interior, and a zeppelin, bien sûr. One of the windows shows the lyrics of the song screening in a cinema room, which is a great, if not somewhat ironical take on the lyric music video format.

Spaces and stories seem rather random at a first but as the track progresses they become quite cohesive with the band’s stylistic and song themes. It’s not just a gimmick but an actual way of rediscovering the band and SO fitting given the their 40th year anniversary. The reissue of Physical Graffiti includes for instance some previously unreleased versions of classical tracks from the album. ‘Same old’ but with a twist, just like doing an interactive construction based on the older artwork!

3. Foals – Mountain at My Gates

Foals - Mountain at My Gate interactive music video

Given 360 degree panorama videos are one of the most popular sub-genres of interactive music videos, I was really impressed with director Nabil, who found a side yet unexplored. And I’m not just talking about the revolutionizing use of the Go Pro Spherical – a device that brings making panorama images at the tips of everyone’s fingers. From the first seconds of Mountain at My Gates our field of vision is ‘invaded’ by a spherical screen which sets the tone for the entire video. Users might consider themselves in control by getting to select what part of the screen to watch. By the end of the song however, things are quite different, as our visual space is constantly occupied by band members and black birds that keep on multiplying across the screen… A creepy, yet mesmerizing atmospheric music video.

4. Namie Amuro – Golden Touch

Golden Touch interactive music video

Mind-blowing! This is what this faux-interactive music video is. Although the format is linear, viewers a required to interact with the screen by placing a finger on the designated place, in order to benefit from the complete experience. So touch the screen. Seriously, touch the screen! Even if you don’t have a touch screen, even if you’re in front of a laptop or a desktop. Put your finger on the special sign in the middle of the screen and press play. No, just putting the mouse over the spot will not engage you enough and you will be missing the point. You literally must touch the screen. Do the actual action and submit yourself to the brilliant minds of directors Masashi Kawamura and Kenji Yamashita as the story created around your finger unfolds. Golden Touch they called the song, Golden Minds I call its creators!

5. CeeLo Green – Robin Williams

Cee Lo Green - Robin Williams interactive music video

Behold the ultimate lyric video! Some called it a ‘tribute’ to the recently deceased actor, others saw it as an unethical use of Robin William’s commemoration for Green’s own agenda. I was simply amazed by Interlude’s once-again-unleashed creativity. We see the song’s lyrics being entered into a Google search bar. What’s funny is that the same tool bar also offers suggestions on how to interact with the video, even though your choices are quite straight-forward. Users can select web results, images that reflect key words, shopping items, and even a video made from CeeLo pictures. The last part is probably the most spectacular as it features a stop motion animation of the artist lip-synching. Overall and enjoyable experience and definitely a great concept of Israeli director Vania Heymann! Given that he was also the creative mind behind Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, he’s definitely an interactive music video to keep in mind and watch!

By @ricutza

Former editor and now guest editor Maria Dicieanu is our right honorable movie geek. She is the living manifestation of a multimedia app and loves trawling the world wide web for the finest music videos, likes to get her digital mitts dirty with conversions, uploads and video edits for Submarine Channel, and also flirts with transmedia-related journalism, reporting from festivals like Cannes, Berlinale and IDFA for European Cinema collective NISI MASA and Submarine Channel.


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