During a recent catch-up with an old school-friend of mine, we began discussing what the average day was like for us during primary school. As we discussed the daily routine, memories began flooding back to me of what I did on my return from school every evening. Indeed, whilst my friends and schoolmates would go off to play their sports or their musical instruments, I would run home and plant myself firmly in front of the television - just in time to catch the daily countdown of the most popular music videos on television.

Indeed, for much of the 1980s and, in my case, the 1990s, music videos were the key vehicle for artists to promote their music by, and some of the world's most prolific and iconic pop-stars utilised their effectiveness to maximum effect. So popular was this form of promotion that multiple television networks would provide viewers with a three-digit code to accompany their favourite music video, so that viewers could call in to 'vote' for a video to be played. The general premise of this process was simple - the music videos with the most votes would be played, and I would continually ring the said television networks in a desperate attempt to see my favourite song once again. I once engaged in a musical three-hour long stakeout with the television waiting for the S Club 7 classic 'Two In A Million' to play - it was an excruciatingly long wait for a six-year-old, but I still remember the rush of joy I felt at the time when it eventually aired.

Alas, as I grew up, my passion for music videos began to wane. The videos of my later childhood were no match for the ones that had so excited me before. Whereas I was once entranced by Madonna eerily walking through an abandoned desert ('Frozen'), or Michael and Janet Jackson getting angry in a futuristic spaceship ('Scream'), towards the early 2000s the best on offer were the Sugababes walking round in an abandoned warehouse or an endless stream of manufactured boybands dancing in front of green screens for videos that looked as if they had a £5 budget. In short, the quality of the once iconic music video began to drop, and the standards really kept on dipping.

It didn't help that the anticipation of music video consumption had gone. Whereas a music video premier was once an important televisual event for an artist, the role of YouTube as a platform for video consumption has allowed for an instantaneous way of watching what you want, whenever you want to do so. Luckily, artists began to see what a devastating effect this was having on their promotional campaigns, and as such, began to make more of an 'event' of their video premiers again. Indeed, artists such as Lady GaGa and Katy Perry began flirting with the idea of extended music videos again at the beginning of this decade, and the results were phenomenal. For the first time in years, music videos were once again causing a buzz - and this time the momentum was built even further by users of social networking sites constantly sharing these videos from their accounts.

"Clearly, Beyoncé has laid the foundations for the next chapter of the music video story. Where do we go from here? Will more artists begin to release entire collections of eye-catching visuals to accompany their music?"

This momentum continued to build, and eventually led to 2013 being somewhat of a vintage year for music videos. If it wasn't Miley Cyrus and her 'Wrecking Ball' or AlunaGeorge lounging in a swimming pool capturing your attention, it was Kanye projecting his music videos onto street walls in cities across the world or Robin Thicke evoking debate with his controversial 'Blurred Lines' video. Regardless of your opinion on the said music videos, one simple fact remains - their potency as a marketing tool was as noticeable as ever. More interestingly, 2013 also saw lesser-known artists put far more effort into their visuals than ever before.

Indeed, whereas artists such as FKA Twigs and Blood Orange would have once simply chucked their music onto MySpace and iTunes, they were, in 2013, (alongside many of their similarly independently-signed peers) putting time and effort into eye-catching visuals to accompany their music. FKA Twigs in particular has built quite the reputation as an artist who makes devastatingly beautiful visuals to accompany her particular brand of ethereal, emotive alternative pop music. Similarly, independent artists such as Solange and Grimes have also made stunning accompanying visuals for their work in recent years - a sign that it isn't only the major-label artists that are using the music video renaissance to their advantage.

As such, the recent decision by Beyoncé to release a visual album can be seen as the next step in the continual revitalisation of the music video. Indeed, in a year where music videos evoked more debate than ever before, it was going to take more than one eye-catching visual to set aside Beyoncé from her contemporaries. As such, she made seventeen of them to accompany each track on her phenomenal latest record Beyoncé. Each of them were fantastic, from the sheer beauty of 'Haunted' and 'Mine' to the infectiousness of 'Blow' and the unadulterated fierceness of '***Flawless', and each visual complimented its' accompanying song perfectly, making for a refreshingly brilliant audio-visual treat.

Clearly, Beyoncé has laid the foundations for the next chapter of the music video story. Where do we go from here? Will more artists begin to release entire collections of eye-catching visuals to accompany their music? Will musicians begin to devote more time to the visual than to the actual music it is accompanying? Or will we simply find a whole new way of presenting music? No one can be sure. What we can be sure of however is that, for now, the music video is once again playing a key part in the promotion of music, and long may it continue to do so.


See Also: Should music videos be age-restricted?