The Information Boom and 90s Music Videos

By: Colleen vonVorys-Norton

The 1990s will be remembered for many things: sitcoms, Bill Clinton, the beginning of terroristic attacks. But probably most of all, the technological boom. Not only was the internet becoming a household object but with the new millenium, there was a general feeling of futurism. This is very clear in the music videos that came out during this time. Even though there was not a big of a focus on space, the culture still had strong space themes since space is seen as the final frontier.

This is very clearly seen with *NSYNC’s I Want You Back. This music video takes place in what appears to be another planet colony. Not only that, but they also have teleportation. Being released in 1996 the new millennium and futurism was a very strong pull line through the direction for the music video mixed with very boyband images. Having the singers with synchronized dancing while in a CGIed space colony mixed together the beginning of the decade with the feelings of the second.  

*NSYNC, I Want You Back, 1996, dir. Alan Calzatti

 

The information boom is seen more in TLC’s No Scrubs. This is especially visual with 9 seconds into the music video there is an email symbol. This was also right around the time that email was really taking off and having an electric envelope to represent the title of the album, FanMail shows the futurism. This idea is brought up again at 2:53 when one of the singers is shown being circled with a camera. With reality tv still being a novelty, having this image of her always being filmed shows the connection to the information boom.

TLC, No Scrubs, 1999, dir. Hype Williams

 

Not just in music videos, but also in song lyrics themselves were these ideals propagated. In Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity he has lyrics like:

Futures made of virtual insanity now

Always seem to, be governed by this love we have

For useless, twisting, our new technology

Oh, now there is no sound for we all live underground

This song can be seen as a warning to the public to be careful with the powers of technology. From changing virtual reality to virtual insanity it shows just how easily technology is taking over society. The music video is also filmed in a livecam type setup. This is interesting because it feels to the viewer that they are just watching the singer perform and not like a huge music production like many of the other music videos of the time. With having the camera at a slight tilt also adds to the creepy vibe that the director was hoping to get across.

Jamiroquai, Virtual Insanity, 1996, dir. Jonathan Glazer

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