Singers are known to emote their feelings through their songs; be it happiness, sadness, anxiety, depression, ecstasy whatever it may be, it is their heartfelt emotions that strike a chord with the listeners. While the song itself plays a crucial role, the visuals enhance the user experience. Many times, animation is used as a medium to portray the singers’ world.
During the pandemic, multiple artists, especially female singers, have explored animation for their music videos. And animation being a universal language, has been used in music albums even years before the pandemic. Beautiful digital creations have been painting the lyrics with deeper meaning and sensuousness. Even in the 80s, musicians took the help of animated characters to express themselves.
On this women’s day, let us take look at some of the amazing creations where a female lead has been juxtaposed alongside animated visuals:
Happier Than Ever: a Love Letter to Los Angeles and My Future – Billie Eilish (2021)
Multiple award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish’s animated project Happier Than Ever: a Love Letter to Los Angeles is made of a dream-like sequence where the singer pays tribute to her hometown. This music video, a hybrid cinematic experience, is directed by Robert Rodriguez and Oscar-winner animator/director Patrick Osborne.
The animated film was a first of its kind collaboration between Nexus Studios, Interscope Films, Disney+, Rodriguez and Osborne. In this mega collaboration, the narrative and animated pieces are weaved beautifully, reminiscent of classic Hollywood.
The live action sequence was filmed at the Hollywood Bowl. L.A. Philharmonic orchestra accompanied the singer, while the concert was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
Eilish’s songs portray complex emotions. For instance, You Should See Me in a Crown written by Eilish, produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell was directed and animated by Takashi Murakam. The song features Eilish plotting for world dominance and the visuals beautifully supports the dark undertones and eeriness of Eilish. It was animated using motion capture technology, and took eight months for Murakam to create it. Same goes for My Future by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell which is another poignant work of animation with intricate illustrations. The single is directed by Andrew Onorato and produced by Chop Studio. The song, which heavily draws from self-reflection, was written by Eilish during the lockdown.
Hey Boy – Sia (2021)
Singer Sia launched Hey Boy as a third single from her musical directorial album Music. She re-released this bouncy pop song in an animated form featuring Nigerian singer Burna Boy.
Rafatoon, a motion graphic artist and filmmaker known to work on several music videos like Unbelievable ft. Kaash Paige and Next To You Part II ft. Rvssian and Davido, has created the music video.
The music video turns Sia and Burna Boy into cartoon characters from animated films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Cool World.
Rang Saari – Kavita Seth and Kanishk Seth (2020)
Launched in 2020, this Indian music video has electronica-infused traditional thumri (Indian folk style) depicting the subtle playfulness of a romantic couple with each other. Inspired by the play Leela based on Lord Krishna, the video has a series of vibrant hand paintings and animation. The music video was created by Blink Pictures founder Indrajit Nattoji. Singer Kavitha Seth lent her beautiful voice to the song along with her son Kanishk Seth.
Sour Candy by Lady Gaga and Blackpink (2020)
Pop icon Lady Gaga and Korean all girls band BLACKPINK collaborated on a music video titled Sour Candy. This peppy number with a mix of English and Korean lyrics, is a single from Gaga’s chart-topping new album, Chromatica.
The video Sour Candy is set in an actual video game like digital universe. The song and the 3D visuals are sure to transport the viewers to a hypnotic world.
Sam Rolfes is the director and lead animator, while Kara Kittel serves as the producer and AI artist. Nicole Ruggiero, Alex Baumann, Damien Blaise were on board as the 3D technical artists.
Daisies and Resilient by Katy Perry (2020)
The track Daisies from Katy Perry’s album Smile makes use of animation for the official lyric video. Directed by Vallée Duhamel, the video flaunts an abstract image of a woman interacting with her immediate surroundings. The animation production was done by Moving Colour and 2Veinte.
For another number Resilient from the same album, she made use of stop-motion animation. The cute video was directed by Aya Tanimura.
Hallucination – Dua Lipa (2020)
In 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, singer Dua Lipa launched a music video. The video shows how the singer transforms herself into the spiritual descendant of the animated cartoon Betty Bloop.
In the music video, animated unicorns, rainbows and flowers can be seen among several other elements. This sure will take you on a trippy ride! The animation style adapted in the video resembles the ones created in the 1930s and 40s. Lipa uses animation to show how ‘Hallucination’ of a romantic relationship creates an out of the body experience.
VFX and animation studio The Mill known for its remarkable work in ads, movies, games and episodics has worked on the music video, and the studio Titmouse has done the character animation. Illustrator and animator Lisha Tan has directed the music video.
Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul (1988)
Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract, featuring MC Skat Kat was quite a sensation. It was a hybrid video where the singer was seen interacting and dancing with a cool cartoon cat.
The video direction and animation was done by Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger. They created MC Skat Kat similar to that of Disney-style animated cats.
The works of these female singers highlighted that producing hybrid videos 10-20 years back was tedious. Yet the master animators left no stones unturned to tell their stories. With the ever evolving music, animation and visual effects industry, we hope to see more such artistry coming out which are not just sung but also animated by women creators.
Here’s wishing everyone Happy Women’s Day!
(Written by Binita Das and Dhruvi Joshi)