With all the hubbub about Erykah Badu's naked "Window Seat" video, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's murderous "Telephone" video, and Justin Bieber holding hands with a young lady in his "Never Let You Go" video, it's easy to forget that the music video is a long way from the pop-culture roost it once ruled.
But maybe that's changing. Musicians are now treating videos like it's 1999. Gaga just became the first artist to have her videos streamed more than a billion times - and that was even before "Telephone" hit its stride.
Badu says her video, in which she strips naked at the site where John F. Kennedy was killed and is then shot herself, challenges the idea of "groupthink." "Character assassination due to mob mentality / groupthink is the theme of the 'Window Seat' video," she says on her Twitter. "The message is encoded."
Though Badu's message is debatable, the fact that she chose the music video as her medium isn't. The same goes for Gaga's video, which has kept the blogosphere buzzing for weeks and inspired scene-by-scene breakdowns of its pop-culture references and even the designers of all of her costumes. It has also revived debate about MTV and its decision to censor references to Gaga sponsor Virgin Mobile cell phones while the scenes in which Gaga and Beyoncé poison dozens in a diner airs as originally released.
"I'm always trying to convolute everyone's idea of what a pop music video should be," Gaga told E! News. Maybe her latest trick is getting everyone to talk about it again as an art form.