For music videos, just standing in front of a camera and pretending to play your hit single doesn’t cut it anymore. These amazing modern videos don’t just let fans watch and listen—they give the viewers control.
The band Tanlines invites fans to create their own music video in a pseudo-Photoshop. Users can add or remove musicians, change the opacity, and pick their favorite backdrop from options that include a beach, Jupiter, and the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want to make an appearance in the music video, there’s an Instagram option: share a picture with the hashtag, #notthesame and see yourself (or your dinner last night) projected on your computer screen. There’s even a live fish cam that shows video footage of the aquarium at Zetta Headquarters.
Beck’s project “Hello, Again” recreated David Bowie’s three-minute “Sound and Vision” into a ten-minute live experience. The enigmatic performer played a guitar on the center circular stage while surrounded by an audience and 160 other musicians, including a string orchestra, marching band, and even a musical saw.
Fans who could not make the live performance did not completely miss out. Beck teamed up with Chris Milk to create a virtual concert that can be viewed online. The viewer has the option of watching the show via three different 360-degree rotating cameras. If the user turns on his or her webcam, the view moves according to head movements, as if the viewer were looking around the venue in real life. For added fun, fans can also choose different effects like “fisheye” and “little planet.”
This twitchy music video featuring movable dancers and band members was created by the studio Powster. By dragging the screen left or right, the viewer could change the angles and movements. It was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge's galloping horses. Filming required nine takes per scene for the full fluid animation. You can see the behind the scenes video here.
Almost 50 years after the song's initial release, “Like a Rolling Stone” finally got its own music video. And not just any music video: this one featured an online television with 16 channels. Viewers can flip through the channels and see various actors, musicians and cartoons lip-sync the words. Some highlights include: Pawn Stars, The Bachelor, and Danny Brown eating junk food. Rolling Stone named it the greatest song of all time, so it’s only fitting that Dylan's classic now has one of the greatest music videos of all time.
5. Koren Ensemble – “Life on Mars”
Daniel Koren is a musician, director, and comedian. All of these talents shine through in his interactive music video where he teases and harasses various musicians on a cardboard stage. Throughout the video, the viewer is given choices that impact the video and the actual song. For example, if you pick the keyboard, a keyboardist will start playing. Participants can also choose the volume of the music, and what prank Koren should perform next.
This crowdsourced music video is called “Do Not Touch.” Users’ mouse movements are recorded and then added to a giant collage. The viewers are given specific directions, like “stay in the green,” or “form a smiley face.” It’s interesting to see how well the little arrows follow directions.
This music video plays like a choose-your-own-adventure game. Using the arrow keys, the player can move the protagonist from room to room and impact the storyline. There’s a variety of different versions and outcomes. The director, Jordan Fish, explained the time commitment of making an interactive video:
“The treatment wasn't a linear script, it was a flowchart, which looks like a big branching tree of choices. In the end, the planning process was probably more time-consuming than the shoot or the edit, compared to a non-interactive video.”
Cold War Kids' music video for “I’ve Seen Enough” lets the viewer dictate how the song is played. Director Sam Jones filmed each band member individually before stitching them together. In the finished product fans can then decide between four instruments each musician should play.
Viewers are presented with a musical cube that they can rotate or completely flatten. The side of the cube the listener is looking at determines what version of the single “No Fun” will play.
The Canadian band has made so many interactive music videos that this list could theoretically be just their work. Some notable examples include, “Neon Bible,” “Sprawl II,” and “Wilderness Downtown.” The most recent addition is for the track, “Reflektor.” Using a webcam or mouse, viewers can control various aspects of light throughout the music video.