As an avid devourer of music, I must confess my deep fondness for music videos. I can sit and watch music videos for hours on end, and I appreciate when artists spend time and effort to release well-crafted ones.

But I often find myself watching fan-made music videos. Although I used to get annoyed when I accidentally clicked on any non-official video, I have come to realize that sometimes these fan creations are exactly what I want and need to see — and are, in their own ways, as meaningful as the official videos themselves.

Perhaps the most classic example of a viral fan-made music video is the video for MGMT’s “Kids” created in 2007 by Jon Salmon, at the time, a student at the University of Southern California. Salmon has admitted that he threw together the video at the last minute, amalgamating found footage of people dancing and original footage of two of Salmon’s friends, in full black and white makeup, lip-synching the lyrics. Salmon uploaded the video online thinking it was the worst thing he had ever made.

COURTESY JON SALMON

However, 10 years and 52 million views later, Salmon’s version of “Kids” is one of my favorite music videos of all time — and remains incredibly meaningful to many fans of the band. This is also a case in which the original artists got involved. After Salmon put the video up on YouTube “just for kicks,” Ray Tintori, director of MGMT’s videos for “Time to Pretend” and the official video for “Kids,” saw it and invited Salmon and his two friends from the video to join the band in shooting the official video for “Electric Feel.”

Not every fan-made video has had this level of success or recognition, however. Often, videos are taken down from YouTube for copyright infringement, although in many cases they live on through other video-sharing websites, like Vimeo.

Furthermore, fan-made videos come in all shapes and forms. Some of the most compelling videos are made by animators — see William Le Bras’ colorful video for Flying Lotus’ “Eyes Above” — but I find that my favorites are often the ones that could easily be believed to be official music videos.

One fan artist that excels in this respect is Mack Bernard, who has put together videos for songs by a variety of artists, including Kali Uchis, Princess Nokia, Tory Lanez, Lion Babe, Childish Gambino, Jhen Aiko and Kehlani.

What is most captivating about Bernard’s work is that many viewers watch his creations without realizing that they are not, in fact, official videos — they capture the essence of the original artist perfectly. After realizing that his videos were fan-made, I was initially taken aback, but soon enough I began to appreciate them just as much, if not more, than their official counterparts.

Bernard typically makes videos for songs that the artists have not yet blessed with videos of their own. He does this by using clips of the artist from past music videos, as well as found footage, a common filmmaking technique used in fan-made work. The result is very cohesive and always feels like as though it fits right in with the musician’s existing image and visual aesthetic.

A prime example is Bernard’s video for “Mermaid Girl,” an interlude track from “Honeysuckle,” the second mixtape produced by alternative rhythm and blues artist Princess Nokia. In this video, Bernard mixed in samples of some of Princess Nokia’s other tracks, creating a wonderful visual and auditory sample of the singer’s distinctive personality, sound and, of course, image.

COURTESY MACK BERNARD

Some of Bernard’s other masterpieces include videos for “Summer Time” also by Princess Nokia, “Jimi” by Willow Smith and “Real” by Kali Uchis.  In the description for each video, he has included a short biography for each artist, giving new listeners and viewers a chance to learn more about the artists, while also getting a taste for their visual style, even if not directly from the artists themselves.

I encourage you to delve further into Bernard’s work, as he has covered a range of artists and genres in his fan-made video repertoire. Artists such as Bernard are integral in feeding fans’ desire for videos accompanying their favorite songs, especially when the musician does not humor that need.

Music videos bring the artist’s lyrics, meaning and story to life in a way that is just as powerful to watch as it is to hear; opening yourself up to the world of non-official music videos can be a wonderful experience for any music video-lover. It is freeing to get lost in the vast expanse of these videos on YouTube, and you may just stumble across a few hidden gems in the process.

claireheadshotClaire Nenninger is a senior in the College. A.V. ID appears every other Saturday. 

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