Music can speak to us in amazing ways, sometimes highlighting stories of themselves and often creating or orchestrating stories of our own lives. But some artists take it a step further and plan an underlying storyline amongst their songs and their music videos. These aren’t always apparent until a couple of songs in, revealing a nice surprise to fans and sparking hunts for the pieces, theorists crafting the potential storylines and creating anticipation for the next possible sequel or prequel. Whilst there are many artists out there doing this, here is a small selection of the storylines I have stumbled on that I thought I would share.
Basshunter: The Story of Jonas, Aylar and Lucas
This is admittedly a story that passed me by for a number of years until recognising that the actress for Angel in the Night also appeared in a couple of other Basshunter videos and twigged it was a running story with the same characters. Whilst the music is often upbeat and exciting for parties, the story is sadly tragic for the lead singer as his fictional self (Jonas) meets Aylar, a waitress with a turbulent relationship with her boyfriend Lucas (whom at the time of meeting had just broken up with her). The story carries across 6 songs and was released mostly chronologically. Whilst it seems a fairly well established arc, I personally found a few questions raised through it such as why nobody seems to go for explanations and simply walks away (unless this is left for a return to the story later on down the line?) and what exactly happened to Aylar to make her disappear? You can find a playlist of the videos in chronological order below and here compiled by pobreliusomx on YouTube:
Panic At The Disco!: The Story of the Devil’s Key
This is a story that was slowly formed over five years of releases, continued on to date solely by Brendon Urie and was initially released out of sequence and cleverly designed such that many people only connected the storyline over time upon the release of the most recent music video. A playlist compiled by YouTuber Big T can be found below and here to follow the story and a video from FBE’s ‘REACT’ series explaining more information on this particular trilogy. Questions raised here for me would be the same as Adam. How did the Devil’s Key come into the lead character’s possession? What happens next with the person who took it? (Could the story span across multiple artists?) and is his entrance into hell the end or will we get to see more of his eternal life in the underworld?
Dave Days & Megan Nicole: The Couple Cover Story
After discovering Dave Days on YouTube and watching his parodies and covers I found his collaborative parody on Katy Perry’s classic hit Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) and noticed a rather obvious hint dropped at the end of it. The whimsical but fun story arc can be found across both YouTuber’s channels and follows the story of an internet geek finding love with a local lady whom has ‘got internet’. Whilst a short story, it follows the beginning and end of the couple’s tragic end of their relationship, leaving the middle stage open to interpretation for the audience. The playlist for this can be found below and here:
Green Day: American Idiot
Okay, so this is sort of a cheat given the full dramatised musical was written after the album was released, but Michael Mayer described in an interview when assembling a team for the production, on hearing the album over and over he could hear “a very strong emotional narrative”. Before this story was fully realised, it’s apparent in a number of the joined up songs on the album that a storyline exists within the main songs independently too. A story of striving for something bigger and better after a life of boredom and broken homes. An example of this can be found in the video below and here for Holiday and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
This album has always had me questioning if there was always a storyline hidden beyond the joined up songs and centring on the drugged up world of St. Jimmy prior to the writing of the musical and what the precursor was to cause the feelings of a broken home.
Pink Floyd: The Story of Isolation
Lastly, as a tribute to my childhood and days as a student, we can’t mention storytelling in music and not mention Pink Floyd. The Wall was an album I heard in parts over the years and a few years ago discovered there were 3 parts to the famous Another Brick In the Wall set of songs. But the story goes further on still with the whole album having a rather dark, slow descent into isolation as the character Pink tries to shut himself out from family and friends all of whom are causing him great pain in his life (this can be heard particularly well through the monologued sections of the verse – especially in the aggressive nature of the cover by Korn), building a mental wall between himself and the world and following his life trying to recover from it. A sampling of the album for those uninitiated can be heard below (or full play for Napster or Spotify subscribers) and the album can also be easily found on alternative streaming services such as YouTube Music and Apple Music as well as purchasable online.
Are there any particularly interesting song series you know of that you wish to share or any theories you can suggest to the unanswered questions above? Feel free to let me know and to discuss in the comments below.