Monday, 15 August 2011

SP - Deconstruction: Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o'Mine

Song: Sweet Child o'Mine
Genre: Rock
Director: Nigel Dick
Year: 1988
Audience: Over 40's

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is the third single by American rock band Guns N' Roses, and the third from their 1987 debut studio album, Appetite for Destruction. Released on August 17, 1988, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the band's first and only number-one single in the U.S. It reached number six on the UK Singles Chart. (Source: Wikipedia)

Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child o'Mine 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 Axl Rose, the band's frontman lip syncing the lyrics to the song. It has long takes of Axl Rose signing infront of his band who are set up behind as if they are at a practise session. It is a very relaxed atmosphere. The whole music video depicts the band rehearsing in the Huntington Ballroom at Huntington Beach, surrounded by crew members. All of the band members' girlfriends at the time were shown in the clip. We know that this is a completely performance based music video because there are no narrative or concept based elements in the music video. This is because there is not storyline that links in with the lyrics or a completely random idea. It is all just shots of the band. 

The opening shot of this music video is of Izzy Stradlin's dog. This is avery suprising start to the music video as you dont usually expect to see a dog in a music video. We do find out that the dog is not heavily featured in the music video but there a few shots dotted around of the dog. This first shot setd the tone of the video. It is a very relaxed and laid back affair, as i have previously mentioned, the music video is of the band at practice with all the crew and bands girlfriends/wives apparent. They have even brought the dog along. It is a first for me and i have never seen this sort of start to the music video. Thre is no music playing at this point it is just a murmur of voices and the odd guitar being tested.

The next sequence of shots is more expected in a music video. It is of the crew setting up in the Huntington Ballroom at Huntington Beach. Again there is no music being played at this point it is just a murmur of voices. The lighting is very interesting aswell. It is quite dark with only abit of sunlight coming through the windows. There is alot of activity happening in this shot and it is very much people setting things up for the band. However it is not just one long continuos shot. There are several cut shots away from this shot but thenit would always come back to this shot. The cut shots are very interesting though. They are all in black and white. I do not know why they are not in colour but it is a really good effect. The cut shots are extremely quick and only last half of a seocnd. Some of the cut shots are of the band waiting for everything to be set up. Some are of more of the crew with megaphone ordering people around and it gives off a real amateur feel which is intended i think. 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.

Throughout the whole video there are vast periods of the band playing their instruments but mainly of the frontman lip-syncing. There are single shots of Axl Rose lip-syncing but also single shots of the drummer, guitarist and the rest of the band members. These are all examples of the performance elements of the music video. There is alot of variety for these shots because the whole video is based around them. There are close-ups of most band members lip-syncing word to the song, medium shots, long shots of the setup of the band and extreme long shots to show the setting that the music is set in. There is also panning shots through the stup of the band. The shots goes from one side of the band and it pans across to the other side of the band. There is also low andgle shots of the guitarists and high angle shots of the drummer. It's not just shot variation that is a common code and convention in music videos it is also fast paced editing and this is certainly the case in the Sweet Child o'Mine music video by Guns N' Roses. This is because the whole video is about the band and they need to keep the pace quick or it would be very boring and slow so the audience would loose concentration really easily. I also noticed the lighting in these shots. It has a slight blue tint to it which is very interesting. Last year that would have connoted a mysteriuos and cold atmosphere to the film but it is very different for a musicThe lighting has gone from natural at the very start of the music video to artificial to whn the band are playing.


This music video is not all about the band though. The majority of the shots are of Guns N' Roses playing Sweet Child o'Mine but every so often there is a cut shot away from the performnce elements of the music video. All of the band members' girlfriends at the time were shown in the music video at some point. Axl Rose was dating Erin Everly at the time, whose father was Don Everly of The Everly Brothers fame. Duff's girlfriend Mandy from the all-female rock band "The Lame Flames" was there, as was Steven Adler's girlfriend Cheryl. Again just like at the begining of the music video the cut shots are in black and white. These shots are shown when the lyrics fit in with them. For example, Axl Rose sings "Now and then when I see her face, She takes me away to that special place", "She's got eyes of the bluest skies" and "Her hair reminds me of a warm, safe place". When these lines are sung there are cut shots away to one of the band members girlfriends or wives. It is almost as if the song is a tribute to these women who obviously mean alot to the band members of Guns N' Roses.

One of the key moments in the music video is the guitar solo. However, in an effort to make "Sweet Child o' Mine" more marketable to MTV and radio stations, the song was cut from 5:56 minutes to 4:12, with much of Slash's guitar solo removed. Axl Rose, commented on the music video in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone: "I hate the edit of 'Sweet Child o' Mine.' Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." "My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. It is obviously the favourite part of the song for the members of the band too. It lasts over a minute but there are more than one shot used for it in the music video. It is iconic and has its rightful place in the music video.

Here is the music video Sweet Child o'Mine by Guns N' Roses:


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