4 Apr 2023

The History of Lyric Videos

Lyric videos are videos that accompany a song and display the song’s lyrics. These videos have become a popular way for musicians to promote their songs on social media and streaming platforms. Bob Dylan’s music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is often considered the first lyric video. In this innovative video, Dylan is seen holding up cue cards with the lyrics to the song written on them, which he flips through as the song progresses. This creative visual representation of the lyrics helped to make the song even more memorable and added an extra layer of meaning to the words.

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues 

In the 1980s, when music television channels like MTV began airing music videos, they were simple productions that usually featured the artist performing the song. However, as the music video industry grew, directors began to experiment with different styles and techniques to make their videos stand out. One of these techniques was to add on-screen lyrics to the music videos. This allowed viewers to sing along with the song, and also helped to promote the song’s lyrics, which were often seen as an important part of the songwriting process.

In 1987, Prince released a lyric video for his hit “Sign O’ The Times” and it was a game changer for the music industry and broke new ground by incorporating animation and intricate visual design to enhance the experience of the song. As the song progresses, the words of the lyrics appear on screen in a variety of fonts and colors, adding an extra layer of visual interest to the video. This approach to highlighting the lyrics was something that had never been done before, and it paved the way for future lyric videos to use similar techniques.

Prince – Sign O’ The Times

In the 1990s, the rise of the internet and social media led to the development of online lyric videos. These videos were often created by fans of the artist, and were shared on websites and social media platforms. In 2010, Ceelo Green released the lyric video for his hit track “F*ck You” and really shook things up. Before this video release, lyric videos were fairly basic affairs, typically consisting of a static image or simple animation accompanied by the song’s lyrics. These videos were often used as a low-cost alternative to traditional music videos, which can be expensive to produce. However, the “F*ck You” lyric video showed that these videos could be more than just a cheap substitute for a music video – they could be an effective way to promote a song and engage fans. This fun and playful video perfectly captured the spirit of the song, and it quickly became a hit on YouTube, racking up millions of views.

Cee Lo Green – FUCK YOU

Today, lyric videos are an important part of a musician’s marketing strategy. Many artists release lyric videos for their songs, either alongside the official music video or as a standalone video. Lyric videos are also commonly used on streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify, where they can help to increase a song’s visibility and engagement. Overall, the history of lyric videos reflects the evolution of the music industry and the changing ways that people consume music. From simple on-screen lyrics to elaborate productions, lyric videos have become an integral part of the music experience for many fans.

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