“Music videos are a representation of the last thirty years in fashion”

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) is regarded by many as the first ever proper music video. 37 years later videos have become ingrained into the fabric of music and they represent style as much as the song.

Music videos were revolutionised in the ’80s, especially with the advent of MTV during this decade. Subsequently, musicians also became entertainers. Fading were the days of musicians just standing still, singing and playing a musical instrument. Dress sense, behaviour and sensuality all became implicitly important.

Madonna became renowned for pushing boundaries and represents one of the first artists to showcase her evolving fashion style through music videos.

’80s hip-hop, meanwhile, is remembered with a sense of nostalgia and a time when fashion exploded. Adidas trainers were in, so were tracksuits and bomber jackets. It wasn’t until the mid-to late ’90s, however, that the ‘bling’ culture was made popular. More recently, rappers Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa have popularised fully-tattooed bodies.

The ’90s also saw artists dress colourfully (Missy Elliott: The Rain; Blur: Parklife and Will Smith: ‘Gettin’ Jiggy wit it,’ to name a few); backward caps were also a huge trend, with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Will Smith typifying this. But Air Jordans were the greatest trend of the decade. Indie male bands since the nineties and into the new millenium have also made their own respective fashion statements. ‘Band style’ has become a trend in its own right with the likes of Oasis and Blur in the beginning and more recently The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian.

Nowadays, there seems to be a trend in returning to the past with retro fashion. Described as a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, Lana Del Ray is symbolic of this. Other artists are champions of 80s fashion, but many are adopting an eclectic style pulling in influences from different eras.

Since the new millennium boundaries have continued to be pushed and that seems to be a focus for many artists. Rihanna, arguably the world’s biggest pop star, has become synonymous with her risque style. Lady Gaga, similarly, has provided the shock factor in her music videos, with constant consume changes, bondage and sadomasochism.

So why is it that music videos have always tried to push boundaries? Neuroscientist Lawrence Parsons says: “It’s capitalism. The capitalist system wants the product to be talked about and this happens when there is something new or outrageous. Rihanna and Lady Gaga are good musicians, but to be talked about, they have to do things that demand attention”.

”What will the future of music videos be? It’s exciting to see what will come next.

By Omar Shahid