New York Film Locations

Music Videos in New York

30 April 2014

Every year music videos are shot on the streets of New York. otsoNY has explored a couple of the videos with the intention of compiling a chart, but in the meantime, here are another 3 videos that were shot during the 1980s, 1990s and more recently in 2009. Starting with "Englishman in New York" sung by English artist Sting, from his 1987 album ...Nothing Like the Sun.

The song was released as the third single of album in 1988, but only reached #51 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, "Englishman in New York" peaked at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1988. The song reached #32 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart that same month. Branford Marsalis played soprano saxophone on the track and Manu Katche the percussion. However, "Englishman in New York" was a hit in 1988 in several European countries, reaching the Top 40 in France, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, etc.

In 1990, just prior to the release of his third studio album The Soul Cages, Sting's record label licensed Dutch DJ and producer Ben Liebrand to remix "Englishman in New York" and subsequently release it as a single. The remix played around with the introduction and some of the instrumentation, but the essence of the song remained the same. The new version was commercially successful, reaching number 15 in the UK charts in mid-1990.

The video was directed by David Fincher, and featured scenes of Sting and his band in New York, as well as the elusive Crisp. At the end of the video, after the song fades, an elderly male voice says: "If I have an ambition other than a desire to be a chronic invalid, it would be to meet everybody in the world before I die... and I'm not doing badly."

Next up is the highly successful track "2 Become 1" by the English girl group Spice Girls. Written by the group members, Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard during the group's first professional songwriting session, it was produced by Rowe and Stannard for the group's debut album Spice released in 1996. It was inspired by the special relationship that was developing between Geri Halliwell and Rowe during the writing session.

"2 Become 1" is a pop ballad, that features instrumentation from a guitar, an electronic keyboard, and string instruments. The lyrics focuses on the bonding of two lovers, and also address the importance of contraception. Its Big TV!-directed music video, which features the group performing against time-lapse footage of Times Square in New York City, was completely shot against a green screen at a studio in London. The backdrop was later superimposed.

Released as the group's third single on 16 December 1996, it was generally well received by music critics and was a commercial success. It topped the UK Singles Chart for three weeks, becoming the group's third consecutive chart-topper, their second million-selling single, and their first Christmas number-one single in the United Kingdom. In July 1997, the song was released in the United States, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, and receiving a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It performed similarly internationally, peaking inside the top ten on the majority of the charts that it entered.

The music video for "2 Become 1" was directed on 22 November 1996 by Big TV!, in a two-day shoot located at a studio in Old Compton Street, London. Cinematographer Stephen Keith-Roach, who worked in other music videos such as Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" and U2's "Discotheque" was in charge of the photography. The shoot involved the group dressed in winter coats, wandering around the studio against a green screen, interspersed with close-up camera angles, so that the backdrop could be superimposed later. To achieve the effect of the wind blowing slowly through their hairs, the group was required to lip-synch the song in double time while wind machines were on them.

The music video features the group in Times Square in New York City with fast moving cars appearing around multi-coloured lights, appearing in various places around the city, either alone, with one other member, or as a quintet. The video is intercut with scenes of lovers experiencing moments of togetherness and closes with a deer wandering the streets.

And finally, "Empire State of Mind" by American rapper Jay-Z, featuring vocals and a chorus from American singer Alicia Keys. The song was released as the third single from Jay-Z's 11th studio album, The Blueprint 3, by his Roc Nation label in October 2009. The song is an anthemic ode to both artists' native hometown New York City, and features a music sample of "Love on a Two-Way Street", written by Sylvia Robinson and Bert Keyes and performed by The Moments. "Empire State of Mind" was originally written by Brooklyn natives Angela Hunte and Jane't "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic who were feeling homesick while on an overseas trip in February 2009. The following month they sent the song in for consideration at Roc Nation, although it received negative reviews. Initially discouraged, the duo sent the song to Jay-Z after a suggestion by an associate of EMI Music Publishing (EMI), and after an incident which they described as an omen.

After hearing the song, Jay-Z immediately recorded it, changing all of the verses but keeping the hook. The single was supposed to feature Hunte on the song's hook, but when Hunte and Sewell-Ulepic were asked if they thought anyone else would be more appropriate for the chorus, Hunte suggested Keys. Mary J. Blige was also considered for the part, but Keys was chosen after Jay-Z heard the song's piano loop. The song was viewed as being an "orchestral rap ballad" and has pop-rap musical styles. It contains references to various locations in New York and its famous residents, while describing the city's essence.

The music video was directed by Hype Williams and was filmed on location, features black-and-white images of New York City intercut with full-colour shots of Jay-Z and Keys performing in Times Square. The music video began filming on September 29, in Tribeca and around Ground Zero, and was released on October 30, 2009. Keys praised the music video and said that the video has all the key elements of a homage to her hometown.

The music video opens with black and white images of locations in New York being shown in the form of a slideshow. The slideshow is then intercut with a black and white clip of Jay-Z, wearing a Yankees cap and a vest with no sleeves, performing the song on a street in front of apartment buildings. Then the video begins to rotate from images of New York being shown briefly, to clips of Jay-Z singing "Empire State of Mind" in several locations with different outfits. Images shown include a monument to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., street signs and stairwells leading to subway stations. Next we see black and white clips of Keys, who is wearing large hoop-earrings with high heels, a black shirt and pants, playing a Yamaha piano that has an image of the Statue of Liberty on it. She is singing her verse of the song in a street at night while cars drive by. Keys' performance is then intercut with aerial views of skyscrapers and clips of the Yankee Stadium, clips of the New York Police, and NYPD cars and logos. Some people, such as ones who are walking around New York or wearing Yankee emblems, have their faces shown or blurred out. Keys and Jay-Z, both wearing sunglasses at night, are then shown performing the song together as the video continues to be intercut with clips of them performing "Empire State of Mind" individually, as well as images of New York. The video ends with colour vision of the duo performing at night on the red glass steps forming the roof of the TKTS pavilion in Times Square. Interspersed are clips of Keys playing piano and views of the New York skyline.


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