When it comes to lyric videos, there's some debate as to when they first originated. Some argue the first lyric video comes from Bob Dylan. The video for his song, "Subterranean Homesick Blues," was released in 1965, and it featured Dylan standing with cue cards bearing certain words in the song — "trench coat"; "kid"; "alley way."
Still, it didn't include every lyric. There were a couple attempts at lyric videos following Dylan — including George Michael in 1990 with "Praying For Time" — but it was probably Cee-Lo Green who helped kick off the recent smattering of lyric videos with his song "Forget You" (however, the lyric video features the words to the less radio-friendly version).
These days, Katy Perry seems to be the queen of lyric videos; she's done one for most of her major singles recently. For Katy, her team's efforts have been majorly successful. In fact, the lyric video for "Birthday" (which you can watch below) currently has more views on YouTube than her official video.
Plenty of other artists and bands release lyric videos, too. This week, Nicki Minaj announced she'd release not one but two lyric videos for her latest single, "Pills N Potions." Other successful lyric videos include "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake; "Die Young" by Ke$ha; and "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz.
Despite these videos not being the official videos — and, in many cases, not even featuring the original artist in the video at all — it's pretty easy to see why lyric vids gain so much traction.
#1: They're quick.
Lyric videos allow record companies to promote songs long before the official video is ready to go. One major reason why? You don't need an artist in order to get it done. Take Pharrell Williams and "Happy," for example. While the lyric video was released on June 18, 2013 (likely to coincide with the film the song was promoting), the actual video wasn't uploaded onto YouTube until November 21, 2013, nearly six months later.
#2: They're useful.
How many times have you been singing your heart out to a song, only to realize you've been singing the wrong lyrics this whole time? It feels as close to being betrayed by a song as you can possibly get. Lyric videos help eliminate that humiliation. In seriousness, it is kinda cool to know what a song says so you can properly sing along, even if it's only in your head.
#3. They're creative.
I'm going to go ahead and give credit where credit is due: Katy Perry's lyric video for "Birthday" is amazing. It has the perfect amount of "cute" and "quirky" that screams Katy Perry, while also being really creative. Despite the song not really being about birthday cake, the video takes a theme and really commits; everything about this lyric video goes together really well. I not-so-secretly love it.
#4: They're fun.
When done well, lyric videos can be fun to watch. Sure, they don't always include the artist, but they're like a new form of art seen in 2-3 minute blips. It doesn't get much more fun than Taylor Swift's video for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."
Do you like lyric videos? Comment and let us know!