Music Video as a Promoter of Positive Social Change

“Ebony and Ivory” is one of the top hits of the eighties by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. It was released in 1982 and reached number one on both the UK and the US music charts. The title of the song was inspired when Paul McCartney heard Spike Milligan (a notorious Irish artist) say:”black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two to make harmony, folks!”. The song on a superficial level refers to the black (ebony) and white (ivory) keyboards of the piano. However, when listening more closely to the lyrics one understands that the deeper level of the song refers to racial integration.

The allegory of the song is quite clear when seeing the video. The song refers to two individuals of different racial groups that are easily able to “live in perfect harmony”, like the melody created by the piano in the song. The same concept is seen in the music video where, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, dressed in black and white joyfully play the piano sitting side by side. Additionally, a section of the video sees the two men in the size of a piano note walking on a piano, furthermore emphasizing the role of music as a universal equalizer. The video aims at inspiring a harmonious and relaxed scenario where black and white predominate, obviously further associating to the idea of balance and equality between the two racial groups.

The entire video shifts from different scenarios of the two artists playing the piano and other instruments, always keeping a fixed balance in the colors black and white. In certain instances the two artists are seen in the form of two shadows dancing and holding hands, eliminating the skin color and bringing them on the same tone. Overall, I believe, that “Ebony and Ivory” sends a positive message and seeks to obtain a positive social change. Through this song and the correlated music video, the two artists are able to make a beautiful statement about trust, love, respect, understanding and education that we are more alike than meets the skin!


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