February 10, 2012 by zdueck
OK Go has always been one of those bands that I have loved but because of their popularity I’ve always had to justify my love for them to those of my friends who tend to get turned off by mainstream popularity. Ever since their infamous treadmill video (or the moment Andy Ross joined the group) these guys have been proving time and time again that they have more creativity between them at any one time than most bands/musicians will have in their bones throughout their entire career. Say what you will about their music (I personally think that even their music is brimming with creativity, though I understand not everyone shares that sentiment) but their videos have become something of a phenomenon. Their ideas are occasionally so plentiful that they need to release multiple videos for the same song (generally because the record label wants one type of video while they want another, but even the alternate versions are often just as entertaining).
But the one thing that this video illustrates is an idea that goes beyond their videos and their music to the very core of the creation process… Control. For their album ‘Of the Blue Colour of the Sky’ they have stated that a good deal of their creative process is being funded by advertisers (as opposed to a record label) allowing them more creative freedom and control over their works. And considering that the record label they are now on is their own (which they started specifically for this departure from mainstream thought), it’s not like they even have the option of asking themselves for more money than what they’ve got. I mean ‘This Too Shall Pass‘ caps off with an advert to Statefarm and their most recent video is essentially a giant commercial for Chevy.
And it is stuff like this that allows them to create the sorts of things they want to create. We then must decide whether these creations are worthy of our support and through doing this we are actually participating in the creative process. It makes listening to an album much more exciting when you know that by buying this album you have given input to what comes next by saying “I like what you guys are doing, keep up the good work!” Which some may say you are doing whenever you buy a record of any kind, but often times even when you buy a record what the labels hear is that they are doing something right, not the band/artist… And so when the band wants to try new things and diverge from their current sound the label will often try their level best to stop that from happening by keeping their bands doing the same old things because that’s what you’ve said you enjoy and so that’s what will keep making them money… The sound, not the band. Which makes the form of promotion OK Go have been experimenting with a much more freeing experience than relying on a label to fund their creative endeavours. Even just listening to them talk about this departure they are on is fascinating when you actually stop to think about how unconventional this form of funding really is in the music recording industry (I mean sure, Fender and Pearl sponsor people all the time… but when’s the last time you saw a band sponsored by the ASPCA).
Which brings me to my favourite part of this music video… It’s not dubbed! By this I mean that usually when OK Go does a music video it is still the studio version of the song playing overtop of their antics, but in this video they entirely re-created the song within the context of the video. Because of this the song sounds slightly different than it does on the album, but I personally do not mind one bit (and almost prefer this version). And the ways in which they’ve attempted to re-create their song just screams Blue Man Group with their piano smashing and PVC instruments and Stomp with their Water Barrels and junk instruments. Plus Damian Kulash actually took stunt driving lessons just to be able to hit everything in this course and drive it safely. Some of the best parts of this video is watching how intensely he is concentrating on driving while still attempting to sing. He essentially learned a new instrument for this video, and that instrument was a frickin’ car! This is a fantastic video full of all the beautiful creativity I’ve come to expect from these guys. So to this I say; I like what you guys are doing. Keep up the good work!