Hi I'm Dex Dunford, the Young & Free Alberta Spokester for Servus Credit Union and the voice of the 25 and under crowd. The United Way has asked me if I could review a music video that they made to raise awareness about the power of community and how it can change a life. Of course I was more than happy to do so, especially since Servus Credit Union and its employees are trying to raise $350,000 for United Way before October 24th. And I was a little honoured they chose to seek my "expert" opinion. Check out my review and the United Way music video entitled "Change Starts Here."
The video opens with some shots of a downtown scene with big office buildings and busses. As the bus passes you can hear whistling to the tune of the song. It's a very simple way to start a video and I love it, simple is better. About ten seconds in, the beat starts and we see an image of a pigeon in an alley, eating some crumbs off the ground. This is a sharp contrast to the massive buildings in the skyline that we saw just seconds earlier.
As the music begins we hear a man talking and explaining some of the hardships he experienced. After, a woman's voice takes over with another heartbreaking story of her childhood and how it affected her throughout life. As she speaks we can see a man shaving, just like myself and most other men do. When the shot changed angles you can see that the man is sitting on his bag, using the window of an office building as a mirror. This simple shot already had me thinking about my life and comparing it to this man, who is our main character throughout the video.
The chorus begins and I love the lyrics. They're well performed, catchy and have a good message to-boot. After the chorus is done we move into the first verse. The main character is walking through an alley with his bag, stopping by a dumpster to see if there's anything of value inside. The man continues to walk through downtown, looking for change in phone booths. One of the most powerful things to me was to see this man, obviously down on his luck, with some nice cars in the background. I think sometimes we trick ourselves to believing that scenes like this only happen in bad places but that's simply not true. Nowhere is immune to poverty or hardship, which really reinforces the song's message of working as a community to help those around us.
We hit the chorus again and see the man sitting outside with some other people. Someone hands him a cup of coffee, obviously representing a United Way volunteer helping him out. As the chorus winds down we see the man walking across a bridge. As he goes behind a pillar and reappears on the other side, a transition has occurred.
His torn, dirty clothes are replaced with clean ones. He's no longer carrying around his old bag, but instead he's holding his son's hand, clearly having fun. Throughout the verse you see him bonding with his son and being a good father. He's visibly happy. They go shopping and throw some high fives. It's very obvious this man's life has made a complete 180 from the first verse. One of the lyrics that really stuck out to me said, "They gave him a hand instead of giving handcuffs." I feel sometimes society can misinterpret the real issue at hand and then choose to take an improper course of action, like locking up people up. Obviously The United Way wants to get to the root cause of the issue rather than punish people who have already had some rough luck. As the second verse finishes, we see our main character and his son getting the keys to their new place.
As the video moves on we can see the man's life progressing and taking big steps forward. His kids have a yard to kick a ball around in and he has a good job. And the girl rapping this verse has a pretty sick flow on top of the well-made video. Probably the most striking part of this verse is when she points out even the kid sitting next to her in class could end up being someone who needs a helping hand from The United Way. It's so easy to be blind to issues around us until it happens to someone we know.
As the video begins to wind down we hear more voice-over stories from people who have taken the helping hand from United Way. Hearing those stories evokes two totally different feelings. On one hand you feel upset or sad that someone had to experience such difficulty in their life. On the other hand your thankful and joyful that they were able to get a helping hand and get out of the situation they were in and build a better life for themselves. We also get to see all of the musicians together singing the hook.
I think that United Way did a great job of making this video. The song is catchy (seriously, I've been humming the chorus all afternoon). The song has a great message and a very real story to go with it. Often, when organizations try to make a music video or song for themselves it ends up being a total flop. That's not the case with this video. They took it very seriously, had talented artists in the video and knocked it out of the park.
Dex Dunford is the Spokester for Young & Free Alberta that gives the 17 to 25 crowd a voice, a head start and useful information. For more information and ways that you can get involved, visit YoungFreeAlberta.com