When it comes to visual art forms, short films and cinematic movies often take the cake. However, when another form of art is thrown into the mix, like music, a real story can be made and told when both cinema and music come together as one.
While music videos can already be interpreted as short films, there are a few bands and artists that have gone above and beyond to create full-fledged films that tell the stories of their albums. Between bands and artists like Pink Floyd and Beyoncé, there have been several visual albums that have shaken up the world and made history over the years.
10 K-12 By Melanie Martinez – 6.4
Showcasing the highs and lows of the adolescent experience, Melanie Martinez created a full-blown production film for her second album “K-12.” Between the film’s compelling, visually-pleasing pastel aesthetic and the serious issues Melanie discusses, the visual album presents a perfect balance between light-hearted and inspiring.
Since the beginning of her career, Melanie has developed a strong brand and aesthetic for her art and her music. Just like her debut album “Cry Baby” focused on mature issues through the lens of a child, “K-12” shows Cry Baby’s evolution through school as she grows older and tackles more and more obstacles.
9 Purple Rain by Prince – 6.5
Featuring music from one of the most popular pop albums of all time, “Purple Rain” is a motion picture that will forever go down in history. The film tells the story of Prince’s time in the spotlight, recalling everything from his home life to the peak in his career.
Battling both love and success along with various other struggles, the cinematic experience tells a pretty close true story of Prince, although it’s not exactly an autobiography. Between the classic ’80s aesthetic of the hairstyles and outfits to the electrifying performances, it’s clear that Prince put his heart and soul into the film and was a natural-born star.
8 Downfalls High By Machine Gun Kelly – 7.3
Recent punk rock artist Machine Gun Kelly made his directorial debut with Downfalls High, which was made in accordance with his transitional album “Tickets To My Downfall.” Starring Euphoria actress Sydney Sweeney and popular TikToker Chase Hudson, the film tells a story of love and tragedy from a teenage perspective.
When a misunderstood, lonely teenager is truly seen by a popular girl at school, many things change in their lives and the lives of those around them. With “Tickets To My Downfall” being a pop-punk/emo-inspired album, the film offers a unique and grungey take on young love and teenage angst.
7 Dirty Computer By Janelle Monáe – 7.5
Described as a sci-fi “emotion picture,” Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer encompasses what fans love most about the star: her hard work and her creativity. Starring in the film is actress Tessa Thompson, who alongside Janelle makes a powerful statement in the film to break away from robotic, totalitarian beliefs in society in order to be themselves and live unapologetically authentic lives.
The movie features not only highly-impressive costumes and visuals but captivating music and choreography by Janelle herself, making for a very entertaining 50 minutes. Even though the runtime is just shy of an hour, it’s abundantly clear that the high-production film had a lot of effort thrown into it with its stunning visuals and uniquely-constructed special effects.
6 A Hard Day’s Night By The Beatles – 7.6
The Beatles are no novices to music films, with A Hard Day’s Night being an undeniable fan favorite. The comedy film highlights the life of the rockstars as they go through their typical daily routines of press junkets, making music, and running from crazed fans, all while they prepare for a live television performance.
Although The Beatles have made several films by now, fans enjoy this one for its simplicity and effectiveness in entertaining, especially during such a time when it was not as easy to have access to the lives of celebrities long before social media.
5 Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem By Daft Punk – 7.8
With a unique animation style inspired by 1970s animé, the cartoon film is fueled by creativity and imagination. Knowing that Daft Punk creates house music that is reminiscent of both vintage disco and futuristic modern vibes, it’s easy to see how their music and film style mesh together.
The early 2000s adventure film provides a nostalgic feel that would definitely be entertaining for kids and adults alike. Daft Punk’s legacy easily shines through in this film and knowing that they are still making hits to this day makes it fun for fans to see how far they have come since.
4 The Wall By Pink Floyd – 8.0
Also categorized as a “rock opera” film, The Wall defined the genre and made it possible for both disturbance and art to coexist. The film’s haunting, aesthetically-trippy imagery easily set itself apart from every visual album that had come before it.
Portraying the maddening isolation of a rockstar as he submerges into the depths of his own mind, the fantasy film is a wild yet creative interpretation of the many subjects the album touches on. Whether it be money, war, or education, Pink Floyd highlights it all and is not afraid to show the darkest sides of the matters.
3 Lemonade By Beyoncé – 8.2
Beyoncé is yet another musical artist that loves to portray her album work in the form of films, with Lemonade ranking at the very top. It’s safe to say the Lemonade album broke the internet back in 2016 due to the adultery scandal surrounding Jay-Z and her vulnerability in her lyrics and her film didn’t help his negative reputation.
The HBO film stars Beyoncé as she plays the role of a woman on her life journey, as the songs simultaneously tell her in-depth story. Between the stunning cinematography and incredibly moving poetry, the visual album is a true work of art and provides fans with a different way of relating to her album.
2 Inside By Bo Burnham – 8.6
Though fans of Bo Burnham know his long-running comedic history, fans mostly give him accolades for his creativity during the pandemic. While many were sitting at home lost and depressed at the beginning of the pandemic, understandably so, Bo chose to write music about the unique experience in a relatable yet vulnerable way, all while including some much-needed comedic relief.
With jokes ranging from Jeff Bezos’ legacy at Amazon to more existential thoughts stemming from being alone and trapped inside, the film is incredibly versatile by making viewers laugh and maybe even cry at times. The film quickly became popular upon its release, with Burnham’s songs even hitting the Billboard charts and being used millions of times on TikTok.
1 The Odyssey By Florence + The Machine – 8.8
Inspired by great literary works like Dante’s “Inferno,” The Odyssey portrays the rollercoaster that is the multi-faceted emotion of love. Separated by chapters, the film represents the many stages couples go through when they fall both in and out of love.
Florence, the band’s frontwoman and star of the film, did not shy away from the ugly, the devastating, and the beautiful that comes with vulnerability, which is essential in recalling all of the stages of love and loss.
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