Thursday, 25 August 2011

SP - Deconstruction: Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer

Artist: Bon Jovi
Year: 1986
Audience: Over 40's

"Livin' on a Prayer" is Bon Jovi's second single from their Slippery When Wet album. Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora with Desmond Child, the single, released in late 1986, was well-received at both rock and pop radio and its music video was given heavy rotation at MTV, giving the band their first #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The single also became Bon Jovi's second consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit and has become the band's signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release. The album version of the song fades out at the end, with a song length of 4:10. However, the version playable on the music video games Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2 retains the original studio ending of the song, where the band revisit the intro riff and end with a talkbox solo. This version of the song ends at 4:53. The song is also featured in the 2001 movie Rock Star. The song was sung by Sri & David to a sold out house at Mint in San Francisco on 8/20/2011. (Source: Wikipedia)

Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer is a completely performance based music video with no narrative or concept. The whole video is footage of the band playing their instruments along with Jon Bon Jovi, the band's frontman lip syncing the lyrics to the song. The video for the song features shots of the band rehearsing for the first half of the music video, then playing in front of a crowd for the second half. The first half of the video, featuring the rehearsal footage, is in black and white, however the second half of the video, performing to the arena audience, is in color. Both sections have long takes of Jon Bon Jovi signing infront of his band who are set up behind as if they are playing live to an audience. This is because for the second half they actually are. It is a typical setup which you expect to see when you go watch a band live. It is a very old school and very low budget music video which is all about the band but especially the frontman, with most of the shots focusing on him. This is very typical for this time period and was frequently used in music videos. This was probably because it saved alot of money having perfomance videos.

One of the opening shots of the music video is in black and white and it is of the band. They walk up a set of stairs that are out of view and the camera doesnt move at all. This gives the effect that the band are coming up on some sort of lift. This is a really good effect as you cant really see the band members as it is dark and there is a black and white effect. It is mysterious and it goes with the music at the start of the music video which has no lyrics to it. There is a long keyboard note and a guitar with a wah wah pedal. When the music and lyrics do kick in this is when we first see the bands faces clearly. However this shot is a really good start to a music video as this shot is really well framed.

The next sequence of shots is of the crew setting up and the band rehearsing in the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. There is music being played at this point but the shots are still in black and white. There is alot of activity happening in these shots and it is very much people setting things up and the band practising there instruments. However it is not just one long continuos shot. There is alot of shot variety at the start of this music video. There are several cut shots away to different crew members and band members. The cut shots are extremely quick and only last a few seconds. Some of the cut shots are of the band waiting for everything to be set up. Some are of more of the crew with a clapper board. It makes it feel as if someone is there filming people setting up without a tri-pod. The camera is shakey and this keeps up the relaxed atmosphere. This effect is meant to be be like this because they want a relaxed atmosphere to be given off at the rehearsal section of the music video. 

In the beginning of the video, Jon Bon Jovi has a harness attached to him. These are some of the cut shots i have just been talking about. The crew members are helping hin put his harness on and he is messing around with it with the rest of the band members. Again this adds to the laid back feel to the start of the music video and shows everyone watching the video that these famous people are human and do live normal lives. Alot of people think that because they are famous and have alot of money that they always have to be proffesional. This music video shows that they are allowed to have abit of fun and the harness allow them to do this. They are all good mates and they are all messing around together. Later on in the music video when it is the real, live performance he soars over the crowd via overhead wires. The crowd goes wild at this point and it shows the progress he has made from rehearsal to the live performance as this time he is not messing around and he goes right over the heads of hundreds of his fans.

Throughout the whole video there are alot of shots of the band playing their instruments but mainly of the frontman lip-syncing. There are single shots of Jon Bon Jovi lip-syncing but also single shots of the drummer, guitarist etc. These are all examples of the performance elements. There is alot of variety for these shots. There are close-ups, medium shots, long shots and panning shots. This is because they want a variety of shots throughout the whole video. Alot is happeining throughout the music video, as i have metioned, so they need to be using more unorthordox shots rather than just close ups for example so the audience dont get bored and loose interest.. Its not just shot variation that is a common code and convention in  music videos it is also fast paced editing. This is certainly the case in the Livin' On A Prayer music video by Bon Jovi. This is because, like i have already mentioned, they have to try and keep their audience interested so they have used alot of shots and fast paced editing to grab peoples attention. The fast paced editing fits in with this type of music video as there is alot happening and not much to take your eye off.
It is not just performance sections that dominate the second half of the music video. Because it is a live performance that has been filmed there are alot of shots of the crowd. It gives it a feel as if it is being shown live on TV rather than a music video because usually when performance sections are used in a music video, they are not playing in front of an audience and it is just of the band. At one point near the very end of the music video, Jon Bon Jovi soars over the crowd via overhead wires and the crowd goes wild. There is also shots of banners that the audience has brought with them and it does give off the feel that it i being filmed live when it is actually already happened. This reminds me of the Coldplay song Fix You that i have already deconstructed. A very similar technique was used in that music video at the end just like with this one. It is not used very often in music videos but it actually a very effective technique for performnace music videos.


Here is the music video Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi

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