Music videos are a very powerful form of art. Combining music and images, they have all the necessary elements to inspire strong emotions. Happy, sad, whatever it is… if a song and the accompanying images are good, you can’t stay indifferent.
Videos these days tend to be overly sexual – at least those that play in the mainstream media. Sometimes, I am not even sure what their message might be or, aesthetics and sex-appeal aside, if there is a message at all. Yet, among all the videos one keeps on coming across, I am very happy to see that there are some that take things out of the studio. That forget over planned clothing and rehearsed choreographs, and present the backgrounds and context as essential elements of the video, adding to the essence of the song.
The Nights (the video above) for example, makes you feel like being alive. It’s not just about the places featured, but about how to make the most of each moment, in each of those places. This is a pretty important thing to keep in mind when you travel: every single place has its beauty, whether it’s more obvious or implied. But a lot of it depends on how you look at it, how you interact with your surroundings. This is something The Nights captures in such an exciting way! By using real footage from the life of Rory Kramer (who calls himself a “professional life liver“), it’s indeed aspirational, yet in a rather relatable and accessible way: “One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember!”
These are some of my favorite wanderlust inspiring videos, that I hope will make you feel like exploring these beautiful places around the world too. They are not only good videos filmed in great places. If it was just about an exotic location, I’d be pointing you towards Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre, my teenage crush (no, I’m not proud…) These are also great songs of diverse genres, that I would recommend you to listen to.
Papeles Mojados by Chambao
Even tough this song is about 10 years old, it is still as relevant as ever, particularly in the European context. The Spanish band Chambao sings about the immigrants that try to cross from North Africa into Southern Spain every day, risking their lives as they cross the Mediterranean in below standard boats that often do not last for the entire trip. The title translates into “wet papers”, referring to the documents of people who try to make it across.
The video was shot in Morocco and I love the fact that they show how beautiful a country it is, but also focus on its people. “Historias del día día, historias de buena gente” (stories from daily life, stories of good people) – these lyrics, along with the images of the streets featured in the video, make me want to go to North Africa and simply chat with people I know so very little about.
Another powerful immigrant /refugee themed video worth checking out is Borders by M.I.A.
Timbuktu Fasso by Fatoumata Diawara & Amine Bouhafa
First of all, if you haven’t seen the movie Timbuktu, please do! Beautifully shot in Mali, it shares with you moments of the life of the people of Timbuktu, who used to live in peace, until members of ISIS / Boko Haram decided to dominate the area. The music video includes scenes from the movie and, as such, is rather stunning too.
The more I see and read things about African countries, the more I realize how little I know about this continent. It always annoys me that the masses, and even the media, often talk about Africa as if it was one big homogeneous territory. Africa is a continent with over 50 countries, and I am happy to come across movies and music videos that show me a little more about a place I am yet to start exploring properly.
A Kele Nta by Mhd
Senegal hadn’t seriously crossed my mind as a possible travel destination until I saw this music video by Guinean-Senegalese performer Mhd. I was at a hotel room in Paris when I connected the TV on a French music videos channel and, suddenly, I was dreaming of traveling to Dakar. It took just the first shot to hook me, really. I’m a sucker for paradise looking beaches. But as I kept listening and watching, something so contagious about this song and music video filled me with incredibly positive vibes.
A Kele Nta follows the story of a friend of Mhd who’s about to get married. He sings about the groom, the bride, their friends and their family and, in the music video, we get to see them all celebrating the couple’s love. It takes a pretty charismatic personality to depict a wedding in such cool fashion, if you ask me. I love this song and I am glad that the music video doesn’t only do it justice, it also takes the good vibes to the next level!
Rise by Eddie Vedder
Following the above film soundtrack, I couldn’t go ahead without including music from the movie Into The Wild too. For me, this film presents some of the most perfect combinations of image and sound the film industry has ever seen.
Rise is not an official music video, it’s an edit made with footage from the movie. Even on little over 2 minutes, this song and clip manage to capture the essence of Into The Wild. That feeling of wanting to get away from it all and connect with your surroundings, like you have never done before. Also, the bittersweet essence of this movie is well noted on the music video. For better or worse, it sure leaves you with a lingering feeling.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ol
This video is full of aloha! Anyone who’s been to Hawaii will be able to feel it. And for those who haven’t been there yet… I bet it makes you want to travel to Hawaii, doesn’t it?
This version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow shows a Hawaii that, for many, is being lost. When you travel around the islands, it is very clear how the gorgeous raw nature is being affected by over exploitation – often, even affecting negatively the native population. Just like Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi song goes “they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot…”
This video reminds us what Hawaii has been, is and, with a little care, may remain to be.
Somos Pacifico by Chocquibtown
“Colombia es mas que coca, marijuana y cafe” (Colombia is more than coke, marijuana and coffee) – making justice to the lyrics of the song, this music video shows a side of Colombia that I find very appealing. Beyond pretty places, it shows that, ultimately, everywhere you go the people you meet is what matter the most.
Heartbeat by Nneka
It’s not very likely that this video will inspire you to go on vacation to Nigeria. But it certainly can arise curiosity about what it’d be like to travel around there. If you are the person who likes to go to a new place to see what life there is really all about, instead of just chasing pretty landscapes, then you know what I mean.
We were lucky enough to catch Nneka live a couple of years ago in Chicago. We didn’t know who she was, but went along with some friends… and, oh boy, am I glad we did! She was captivating from the very first song and has been a regular on our playlists ever since.
If you enjoyed this one, check out Africans by Nneka, also shot in Nigeria.
Hymn For The Weekend by Coldplay
This is one controversial music video. The song is loved by many, but the clip has also been received with mixed feelings by part of the Indian audience. Some Indian people feel that it is not right for Coldplay and Beyonce to do what is referred to as “cultural appropriation”. That is, take advantage of India (the India that they want to portray – which is arguably not a complete picture), in order to promote their music.
If you ask me, the video does an excellent job at making you feel like traveling to India. I’m not even a Coldplay fan and even I feel that way… even though I go to India all the time!
I think the colorful spirit of India and, above all, the smiles and energy of the kids feature in the video, are something that truly exists in India. It’s true that you may not experience everything you see in Hymn For The Weekend‘s video on a regular day somewhere in India. But all the elements featured do exist and, what the hell, this is an artistic video… not a documentary!
Hum Loag by Shankar Tucker
Here’s another music video that proves my theory: people in India are the most camera friendly folks in the world! If there’s something that could motivate a traveler to go to India (yes, more than the Taj Mahal) that would have to be its people.
In Hum Loag‘s clip, Shankar Tucker got 200 people from Mumbai to sing for his clip. Don’t you just want to jump inside the screen to sing and dance with them, right there, in India?
Quero Ser Feliz Também by Natiruts
This is a live video of a Natiruts concert in Rio de Janeiro. The backdrop is just phenomenal! Rio is one of the most naturally beautiful cities we’ve ever been to. From atop one of its many hills, where this clip was shot, you can truly breathe in all its splendor. As the sun goes down, this song and video can easily make you feel like taking it easy in Brazil.
Earth Song by Michael Jackson
Making a list of awesome music videos and not including Michael Jackson, would almost be sacrilege. So here we are! While The King of Pop had many videos that could make you want to pack your bag and hit the road (check out They Don’t Care About Us if you are in the mood for Brazil, for example!), Earth Song is, for me, the most significant one.
If the song makes you care about our planet, the video takes things to a whole new level by graphically showing regrettable human actions. Earth Song’s music video makes you care about the world we live in and, isn’t that what travel is pretty much all about?!