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Design Trends

How Does Imagery & Visuals Shape The Grammys.

The big argument,”Sight over Sound”.

The argument “Sight over Sound” is a topic becoming more and more relevant. There are many musicians putting more and more focus on music videos, cover arts, and even colorful hair (we all know who I’m talking about here). It really brings up the question, how do visuals perform up against musical talent, and how is it shaping today’s society?

With Grammys being the center of attention this week I couldn’t help but focus on some key artists that blew us out of the water last year. Their eccentric controversial visuals or lack thereof, has no doubt aided in bringing them to the 61st Recording Academy Grammy Awards.

Visual Trends

Kayne & Daft Punk  — 50th Annual Grammy Awards, 2008.

Let’s talk about this nominee that knows how to keep you smiling with eyes glued to the screen. Dua Lipa would not be a two time Grammy nominated artist if it wasn’t for her captivating and electric style and how she displayed it. Her music mirrors her visuals and at the end of the day, along with feeling extremely tired from mimicking her dance moves, you can also count on feeling good inside.

Two of my favorite music videos are “New Rules” and “Electricity” with “Electricity” being the video that led her to a nomination for Best Dance Recording Award. Even though this wasn’t solely her, (she collaborated with Diplo and Mark Ronson’s Silk City) you can tell by watching her older video, “New Rules” that her style and usually perplexed facials played a massive role in making “Electricity” a visual masterpiece. Oh, and she also got nominated for Best New Artist.

Grammy Nominee
new-rules music video

Grammy Nominated Artist Dua Lipa—  2018.

Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”

TIA Music Video
This Is America Music Video

Childish Gambino’s This Is America—2018

Rolling Stone said it best, a good music video can get you a Grammy nomination. Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” is not the best song ever. I’m sure you can think of another song of 2018 that you liked more. It’s a good song with a decent beat with agitated and mind ruffling lyrics. But it is not the best song of 2018. You can just guess what led this song to being nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

The strategically directed video created such a rattle in the industry. You were instantly considered a racist if you only saw the video once. Taking advantage of the multitude of racial issues emerging in 2018 and putting it in everybody’s face, using art and music and a little bit of quirky choreography was genius and powerful. Everybody played the song over and over again just to evaluate the video and its lyrics. The aesthetically pleasing yet horrifically graphic video made a huge statement, This is America.

Public Announcement: Having no visuals will ALSO carry you to the Grammys.

I spoke about how these days, having amazing visuals can help open doors to the Grammys, BUT THIS JUST IN. Apparently, you don’t need any visuals at all to be nominated.

Rhythm and Blues artist H.E.R, who actually began hitting the mainstream airwaves before anyone even knew what she looked like, was nominated for Best New Artist and Album of the Year. I would be lying if I said her music didn’t help get this nomination because H.E.R music is breathtaking. But what escorted her music around even more was the fact that no one could figure out what she looked like. Who is this mysterious woman from California with an amazing voice?

Her first album cover art catered the idea of keeping her identity a mystery. It showcased a soft gradient background from royal blue to a sunset orange with speckle effects. With the letters “H.E.R” at the top in neon and a black silhouette of a short curly haired woman. After reading a couple of her interviews, her reason for this all made sense. But If she continued to do this I think we would all pull our eyes out. She eventually revealed herself mid last year. She still maintains the mysterious brand she created by always wearing shades. Her secretive demeanor keeps us wanting more.

H.E.R
H.E.R Cover Art
H.E.R Performing

Havana OH NA NA.

This artist burst into the scene full of Cuban confidence and a large heart. Camila Cabello, nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance, showed the world that hard work and perseverance can take you to the top. Molding her culture into a spicy girl next door with complimenting rustic visuals, creating a connection with her listeners. Migrated here from Mexico, Camila had one goal in mind. Become the best version of herself. Even though last year seemed like our first time seeing her, the limelight was nothing new. Before going solo, she was apart of Fifth Harmony for a short time right after auditioning for “The X Factor”.

We all know the overplayed song “Havana”, which actually skyrocketed her fan base as a solo artist. Fans all over the world were head over heels for the sexy cover art as well as the music video that followed. The cover art featured a side profile head shot of this long curly hair, sweaty however appealing woman on a solid red background almost impulsing one to listen to the song immediately. And the music video with more than 731 million views told a story, which most music videos lacked. Her visuals demanded attention and the streams to her music followed.

Camila Cabello
Camilla Cabello Havana

Imagery Plays A Huge Role

Grammys wouldn’t be the Grammys it is today if it wasn’t for the constantly growing need for our minds to receive creative visuals. The amount of influence on music videos and its context, cover art, artist branding, or even just the color of one’s hair, plays a major role in curating music popularity. Sight over sound can still be argued because you know when you hear good music versus bad music. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one that watches full Facebook videos without even clicking to listen to it.

Written by Barry Harris