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Metallica So What Music Video

Written by: Bren Pickering

Watch Metallica's "So What" Music Video - A high-energy music video filled with powerful riffs and intense performances. Experience the adrenaline with this captivating Music Video.

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Welcome to the world of music videos, where the art of storytelling meets the power of music and visuals. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the captivating and controversial world of music videos, with a specific focus on the iconic “So What” music video by the legendary rock band, Metallica.

For decades, music videos have served as a medium for musicians to express their creativity, connect with their audience, and enhance the overall listening experience. With the advent of MTV in the 1980s, music videos became more than just a promotional tool – they became a form of art in their own right.

Metallica needs no introduction. As one of the biggest and most influential rock bands of all time, their music has resonated with millions of fans around the world. Known for their raw energy, intense performances, and thought-provoking lyrics, Metallica has left an indelible mark on the music industry.

Released in 1997, “So What” is a single from Metallica’s fifth studio album, “Load”. The song itself is a fierce and rebellious anthem, filled with aggressive guitar riffs and powerful vocals. However, it’s the accompanying music video that truly sets it apart.

The “So What” music video pushes the boundaries of conventional storytelling, taking the viewer on a wild and unpredictable ride. From its controversial content to its visually stunning imagery, it’s a music video experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Join us as we explore the visual and cinematic elements of the “So What” music video, uncover its narrative structure and themes, delve into the reception and controversy surrounding it, and examine its lasting impact and legacy. Get ready to dive headfirst into the world of Metallica and the mesmerizing art of music videos.


Background of Metallica

Before we delve into the “So What” music video, let’s take a moment to reflect on the remarkable journey of the band behind it: Metallica. Formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, Metallica quickly rose to fame and became one of the pioneering bands of the thrash metal genre.

The band was founded by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, who were later joined by lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Cliff Burton. With their unique blend of aggressive guitar riffs, fast-paced drumming, and intense lyrics, Metallica carved a niche for themselves in the music scene.

Metallica’s breakthrough came with the release of their second studio album, “Ride the Lightning” in 1984. This was followed by the critically acclaimed “Master of Puppets” in 1986, solidifying their status as one of the most innovative and successful metal bands in the world.

Tragically, Metallica faced a devastating loss in 1986 when bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a tour bus accident. Jason Newsted joined the band as the new bassist, and Metallica continued to evolve their sound, experimenting with more melodic elements while retaining their trademark heaviness.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Metallica faced both critical acclaim and public scrutiny. Albums like “Metallica” (also known as “The Black Album”) and “Load” showcased their versatility and songwriting skills, but also triggered accusations of “selling out” as the band’s music took on a more mainstream sound.

Despite the ups and downs, Metallica persevered, constantly pushing their boundaries and refusing to be confined to any one genre. Their influence and impact on the music industry are unparalleled, with numerous accolades, including multiple Grammy Awards and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now, with the foundation laid, let’s move on to explore one of Metallica’s most controversial and talked-about music videos, the infamous “So What”. Brace yourself for a whirlwind of visuals and emotions as we dissect this iconic piece of audio-visual art.


Overview of “So What” Music Video

The “So What” music video is a wild and chaotic ride that perfectly embodies the rebellious spirit of Metallica. Directed by the acclaimed duo Anton Corbijn and Michael Salomon, the video captures the raw energy of the song and pushes the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in mainstream music videos at the time.

The video opens with a close-up shot of lead vocalist James Hetfield sporting a bloodied face, setting the tone for the intense and confrontational nature of the visuals. From there, it quickly transitions to a frenetic montage of live concert footage, backstage antics, and rebellious behavior.

One of the notable aspects of the video is its gritty and unpolished aesthetic. Rather than opting for a highly produced and glossy look, the video embraces a raw and DIY-style approach, adding to the overall edginess and authenticity of Metallica’s persona.

The “So What” video is interspersed with provocative and controversial imagery, from the band members engaging in destructive behavior to scenes of explicit nudity and sexual content. This bold approach sparked outrage and censorship, with some networks banning or heavily editing the video due to its explicit content.

Despite the controversy, the video also showcases Metallica’s camaraderie and sense of humor. The band members are seen playfully interacting with each other, injecting moments of lightheartedness amid the chaos. This juxtaposition adds depth to the video, revealing the multifaceted nature of Metallica’s personalities.

Visually, the video relies heavily on fast-paced editing, rapid cuts, and dynamic camera angles. This creates a sense of energy and keeps the viewer engaged throughout. The dark and moody lighting adds a layer of intensity to the visuals, complementing the aggressive nature of the song.

By the end of the video, viewers are left with a sense of exhilaration and a glimpse into the chaotic world of Metallica. It is a powerful visual representation of the band’s rebellious spirit and their willingness to push boundaries and break free from conventions.

The “So What” music video serves as a testament to Metallica’s fearless approach to their art, challenging societal norms and expectations. It remains an iconic and unforgettable piece of audio-visual experience, captivating audiences and leaving a lasting impact on the music video landscape.


Visual and Cinematic Elements in the Music Video

The “So What” music video is a masterclass in visual storytelling, incorporating a variety of elements that enhance the overall cinematic experience. Let’s take a closer look at some of the visual and cinematic techniques used in this iconic Metallica video.

One of the notable visual elements in the video is the use of black and white footage. This choice adds a sense of timelessness and grit to the visuals, emphasizing the raw and intense emotions conveyed by the band. The monochromatic palette contributes to the raw and unfiltered aesthetic of the video.

The video also employs a mix of different camera techniques to heighten the immersive experience. Close-up shots of the band members’ faces capture their raw emotion and intensity, allowing viewers to connect with the energy of the music on a deeper level. Wide shots of the live performances showcase the energy and passion of Metallica’s stage presence.

Lighting plays a crucial role in creating the mood and atmosphere of the video. The use of stark, dramatic lighting, with shadows and contrasting highlights, adds depth and intensity to the visuals. This technique amplifies the raw and aggressive nature of the music, creating a visually captivating experience.

The video also incorporates quick cuts and rapid editing, complementing the fast-paced nature of the song. This technique adds to the energy and excitement of the video, creating a sense of movement and momentum that keeps viewers engaged. The seamless transitions between different scenes contribute to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the video.

In addition to the live concert footage, the video features various narrative scenes that enhance the storytelling aspect. These scenes provide glimpses into the band’s unique personality and camaraderie. Whether it’s the band members engaging in rebellious behavior or playfully interacting with each other, these moments add a layer of authenticity and relatability to the video.

Furthermore, the explicit and controversial imagery used in the video pushes the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in mainstream music videos at the time. While it sparked controversy and censorship, the inclusion of such provocative imagery adds an element of shock value and accentuates the rebellious and confrontational nature of Metallica’s music.

In summary, the “So What” music video employs a range of visual and cinematic elements to create a compelling and immersive viewing experience. By combining black and white footage, various camera techniques, dramatic lighting, rapid editing, and provocative imagery, the video captures the raw energy and intensity of Metallica’s music, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.


Narrative Structure and Themes

The “So What” music video boasts a unique narrative structure that reflects the rebellious and unpredictable nature of Metallica’s music. Rather than following a linear storyline, the video offers a series of vignettes and scenes that present a collage of different themes and emotions.

One prominent theme in the video is the idea of freedom and defiance. The band members are shown engaging in rebellious behavior, breaking societal norms, and defying expectations. This theme aligns with Metallica’s overall image as a band that pushes boundaries and challenges the status quo.

Another theme explored in the video is camaraderie and brotherhood. Despite the chaotic and sometimes controversial nature of the visuals, there are moments of lightheartedness and camaraderie among the band members. These scenes emphasize the strong bond between the musicians, showcasing their unity and shared passion for music.

The video also touches upon the theme of self-expression and authenticity. Metallica has never shied away from being themselves, regardless of how their music is perceived by critics or audiences. This theme is reinforced by the controversial and provocative imagery in the video, highlighting the band’s unapologetic and unique artistic vision.

One could argue that the fragmented narrative structure of the video mirrors the rebellious and nonconformist spirit of Metallica’s music. The lack of a linear storyline allows viewers to interpret and connect with the video on a personal level, forming their own narrative and emotional journey.

At its core, the “So What” video is a visual representation of the raw emotions and intense energy found in Metallica’s music. The non-linear narrative structure and exploration of various themes create a multi-layered experience that resonates with viewers on both a visceral and emotional level.

Overall, the “So What” video’s narrative structure and themes align with Metallica’s identity as a band unafraid to challenge conventions and express themselves authentically. It captures the essence of their music, captivating viewers with its rebellious spirit and leaving a lasting impact on those who witness its chaotic yet captivating visuals.


Reception and Controversy Surrounding the Music Video

Upon its release, the “So What” music video triggered a whirlwind of controversy and mixed reactions from fans, critics, and censorship boards. The explicit and provocative nature of the video raised eyebrows and led to heated debates about its appropriateness in mainstream media.

Some viewers and fans praised the video for its raw energy, embracing Metallica’s rebellious spirit, and pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in music videos. They saw it as a bold and unapologetic statement of artistic freedom, appreciating the authenticity and intensity it conveyed.

However, for others, the video crossed the line with its explicit content. Scenes of nudity, sexual content, and destructive behavior were deemed offensive and inappropriate, leading to widespread criticism and calls for censorship. Some countries and networks opted to either ban or heavily edit the video to comply with broadcasting standards.

The controversy surrounding the video only added fuel to the fire and increased its notoriety. It became a topic of discussion and debate, elevating its visibility and further solidifying Metallica’s reputation as a band that dared to challenge societal norms.

Despite the mixed reception, the “So What” video undoubtedly left a lasting impact. Its controversy sparked conversations about the boundaries of artistic expression and the censorship of creative works. It forced audiences and the industry to confront the uncomfortable and provocative nature of certain art forms.

In retrospect, the controversy surrounding the “So What” video can be seen as a testament to Metallica’s ability to provoke and challenge the mainstream. It showcased their fearlessness in pushing boundaries, unapologetically expressing their art, and embracing controversy as a means of artistic expression.

Today, the “So What” video stands as a testament to Metallica’s willingness to stay true to themselves and their art, regardless of the reception or controversy it may generate. It remains an integral part of their legacy, forever etched in the history of music videos as a daring and controversial milestone.


Impact and Legacy of “So What” Music Video

The “So What” music video holds a significant place in the legacy of both Metallica and the music video genre as a whole. Its impact can be seen in various aspects, from its influence on future music videos to its ability to captivate and provoke audiences.

First and foremost, the “So What” video solidified Metallica’s reputation as a band that fearlessly pushed boundaries. It showcased their rebellious spirit and willingness to challenge societal norms, making them icons of the rock and metal genre. The video’s controversial content only magnified Metallica’s image as boundary-breakers, cementing their status as pioneers in the music industry.

The controversy and censorship surrounding the video also drew attention to the broader issue of artistic freedom and censorship in the music industry. It sparked discussions and debates about the limits of expression in visual media, prompting a reevaluation of societal norms and expectations for musicians and visual artists.

Furthermore, the “So What” video influenced countless artists and filmmakers who followed in its wake. Its gritty and unpolished aesthetic, combined with its raw and intense imagery, inspired a new wave of music videos that embraced a more rebellious and authentic approach. The video’s impact can be seen in the work of subsequent artists who push boundaries and challenge conventions in their own visual storytelling.

From a cultural standpoint, the “So What” video became an integral part of Metallica’s discography. Fans have come to associate the song itself with its provocative and controversial visuals, amplifying the impact and emotional resonance of the music. It served as a visual representation of Metallica’s unapologetic and raw energy, leaving a lasting imprint on fans and the broader music community.

On a broader scale, the “So What” video’s legacy extends beyond Metallica’s fanbase. It remains an important piece of music video history, speaking to the power of the medium to challenge norms and provoke thought. It serves as a reminder that music videos not only enhance the listening experience but can also act as platforms for artistic expression, social commentary, and cultural exploration.

Ultimately, the “So What” music video’s impact and legacy are multifaceted. It solidified Metallica’s image as rebellious pioneers, sparked conversations about artistic freedom and censorship, influenced future music videos, and serves as a testament to the enduring power of visual storytelling in the world of music. It continues to captivate audiences and remind us of the power of unapologetic self-expression in art.



The “So What” music video by Metallica has left an indelible mark on the music video landscape, showcasing the raw energy and rebellious spirit of the band. Through its provocative and controversial imagery, this video challenged societal norms and sparked debates about artistic freedom and censorship. It remains an iconic and unforgettable piece of audio-visual art.

From its fragmented narrative structure to its visually captivating elements, the “So What” video showcased Metallica’s willingness to break boundaries and express themselves authentically. The video’s impact and legacy can be seen in its influence on subsequent music videos, as well as its enduring relevance as a cultural touchstone.

The controversy surrounding the “So What” video only served to elevate its visibility and solidify Metallica’s status as pioneers in the music industry. It prompted discussions about the limits of artistic expression and brought attention to the broader issue of censorship in the music industry. In doing so, it paved the way for future artists to push the boundaries of visual storytelling and challenge societal norms.

Ultimately, the “So What” music video stands as a testament to Metallica’s fearlessness, authenticity, and unwavering commitment to their art. It captured the essence of their music and left an indelible impression on fans and audiences. It will forever be remembered as a bold and unapologetic piece of audio-visual art, solidifying Metallica’s legacy as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

As music videos continue to evolve and push artistic boundaries, the “So What” video serves as a powerful reminder of the impact and potential of this medium. It reminds us that music videos are more than just promotional tools – they are a form of art that can capture emotions, challenge conventions, and leave a lasting impact on viewers.

So the next time you watch a music video, let yourself be immersed in the visuals, the storytelling, and the emotions it evokes. And remember the trailblazing spirit of Metallica’s “So What” music video, a testament to the power of music and visuals to ignite passion and provoke thought.

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