Monday, February 1, 2010

OK Go Video: This Too Shall Pass

Back in 2002 I saw OK Go open for The Vines, and they put on a great show. Much better, in fact, than the spastic Vines themselves. I went to chat with OK Go's lead singer after their set, but he was more interested in talking to girls much prettier than myself (who can blame him?). So I chatted with their keyboard player instead - nice dude! I admit that I am not a huge fan of OK Go's music, but they do make above average alternative rock and pop songs. However, I am a HUGE fan of their videos.

Remember the good old days when MTV and Much Music actually showed videos? Who can forget that classic Twisted Sister video for "We're Not Going to Take It." With the guy screaming at the kid, "What do you want to do with your life???" And the kid say, "I Wanna Rock." Or Weezer's "Buddy Holly" video as an episode of Happy Days. Or Madonna's controversial "Like a Prayer" video. I couldn't take my eyes off of any of these videos, and quite often the videos were better than the songs.

So, is making good music videos a dead art form? Not for OK Go. In 2006 they released a now classic video for their song "Here It Goes Again." If you don't recognize the name of the song, you will surely know The Treadmill Video. All four members of the band do a choreographed dance on moving treadmills, and the entire sequence is done in one filmed take (no editing). I wonder how many takes they had to do to get it right? The video going viral was largely responsible for the success of their 2005 album Oh No, which peaked at #69 on the Billboard 200 charts, and the single for "Here It Goes Again" remains OK Go's only song to land on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #38. The video won a Grammy in 2007 for Best Short Form Music Video of 2006.

OK Go recently released another extremely clever video for their song "This Too Shall Pass" off of their 2010 album Of the Blue Color of the Sky. However, this time their label (EMI) is making it difficult for them to get the word-of-mouth recognition that followed their previous videos. YouTube pays a little royalty to the label for every time the video is viewed on YouTube. If the video is embedded in another website (for example, in a music blog) the label does not get paid. Therefor, the label disabled the ability to embed any of OK Go's videos from YouTube. OK Go themselves explains the entire situation in a well written piece on their own web site's message board. Its a really good read, and a sad commentary on the selfishness of major record labels. A short quote from it:
And, voilá: four years after we posted our first homemade videos to YouTube and they spread across the globe faster than swine flu, making our bassist’s glasses recognizable to 70-year-olds in Wichita and 5-year-olds in Seoul and eventually turning a tidy little profit for EMI, we’re – unbelievably – stuck in the position of arguing with our own label about the merits of having our videos be easily shared. It’s like the world has gone backwards.
But, the band does post the embedding codes, so you can view the video here! Way to stick it to The Man, OK Go. Keep bringing the creative videos. This video warms my cold marching band geek heart (yes, I was band geek in college, and I loved every minute of it).

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

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