Thanks to some combination of how much young people love YouTube and how little cash the music industry has to burn, we’ve recently been treated to a new offering called the lyric video, a special sort of promotional clip that eschews jungle cats and champagne fountains and hot rods and all the other music video staples–including, you know, the musicians–and just throws the lyrics to the song up on screen in some cutesy typeface instead. Granted, sometimes these just serve as placeholders for the real video, but it’s still kind of a tacky look for a major-label recording artist.
The clip for “Dream,” by the French band Husbands, is a lyric video in the purest sense, but it quickly reveals itself to be a bit different than the rest. For one thing, it actually makes use of a nice variety of typefaces, and it spaces them out in a pleasing way on your screen. It shows a little aesthetic restraint, which is nice compared to most of the other ones I’ve seen, which generally look like final projects for some sort of Intro to Flash high-school elective, back when anyone would have thought it made sense to teach high school kids how to make things with Flash.
But the video gets truly impressive when you realize that what you’re seeing wasn’t made by a computer. At a certain point you grasp that you’re not looking at rendered fonts but a real, physical wall of type, precisely arranged and illuminated in sync with the track.
It’s the creation of Cauboyz, a duo of French designers. “After listening [to] the song, we understood quickly that it was very structured,” one of the members explains. “We wanted to do something simple with a little bit of poetry.” The technique they decided on has to be one of the most time-consuming ways to get a song’s lyrics on screen. But bravo to them for trying it. It’s the lyrics video that type lovers deserve.