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posted on February 15th, 2016

The magical duet: It’s (not) all about the music

The 58th annual Grammy Award ceremony is tonight. Music, from the start of time, has been used to express the spirit of adventure, liberty, passion, and love, and videos heighten these strong emotions even more.

So powerful are visual images threaded together to create a story that quite often we forget the lyrics to a song, but we remember the music video vividly. So the Grammy Awards are as much as celebration of video, as they are of music.

Cool rides in the 2016 Grammys

I recently became curious about the role of cars in music videos; some of my favorite songs have used cars as cornerstones in their videos. So it’s no surprise that three of the five nominees for “Song of the Year” this year feature cars in their videos.

In “Alright”, Kendrick Lamar features a ‘69 Chevrolet Camaro (and several police cars), Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video starts and ends with a rare Shelby AC Cobra, and Wiz Khalifa’s “See you again” has scenes from the “Fast and Furious” movies and features more beautiful cars than I could count.

Clearly, cars still form an integral part of the American music and pop culture experience.

The duet’s long history

Cars play many roles in their music video cameos. Sometimes they’re passive objects of magnificence that subtly demand one’s attention. For example, in Whitesnake’s 1982 video “Here I Go Again”, the Jaguars complement the attractive Tawly Kitaen, as well as the lyrics:

“Here I go again on my own, goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known…”

In other videos, cars are active collaborators with the protagonists, helping them escape or reconnect with a loved one. Take for example, Audioslave’s 2002 “Show Me How to Live” which feature a Dodge Challenger, or Kavinsky’s songs that were used in the 2011 movie “Drive” and features a Chevelle. In both, the protagonist’s escape is quite stylish!

Then there are the rare — but noteworthy — where the cars are the heart and soul of the video. I consider M.I.A’s 2013 video for “Bad Girls” an example. Here BMWs, Toyotas, and other cars are drifting in a desert. The video is so powerful that it has become an anthem for women demanding the right to drive in countries like Saudi Arabia.

One thing is clear, cars and what they represent evoke strong emotions in us, quite like the music we listen to. And they’re going to play a large part in music videos for the foreseeable future.

Govind is a Senior Product Manager at Turo. When he's not obsessing over metrics, he's usually playing a sport, strumming his guitar, or planning his next road trip with his wanderlust-bitten wife.