Ok Go have become something of an internet phenomenon since the mid ’00s, known more for their videos than their music. Returning from a lengthy hiatus, the band seemed to have switched gears somewhat with the release of Of The Blue Colour of the Sky, their best album to date (featuring what is by far their best song). The focus then, would seem to be on the music rather than the visual presentation; a notion which the video for WTF?, the album’s lead single, seemed to have confirmed. The video is interesting, if unexceptional. And while good, it seems more an afterthought to the song (which is also pretty good, by the way).
This is, of course, as it should be, and, for that matter, the way most bands typically do things. It is, however, in stark contrast to Ok Go’s previous work, which– purposefully or not– placed the focus more on the action onscreen. The songs, in those cases, seemed more akin to a soundtrack, added as a means to punch up the choreography rather than the video’s reason for being. Here, for example, is the video for “A Million Ways:”
And the video for “Here It Goes Again,” which was so goddamn ubiquitous it even won a Grammy:
And while these are excellent videos– simple, clever, and original– and they’ve garnered the band millions of Youtube hits, they’ve hardly done much for their reputation as musicians. And though it’s obviously brought them some new fans, the caprice of internet fame is surely no comparison to the quality fanbase that a solid, well-reviewed album and a good tour would bring.
I was initially impressed by Ok Go’s apparent decision to focus less on their video-making. The fifteen minutes of fame had passed, and– it seemed to me– no good could come by trying desperately to recreate past successes.
That was, of course, until I watched their newest video for the song “This Too Shall Pass” and I realized I was completely wrong. Clearly Ok Go have a gift for making brilliant and original music videos and must by all means continue to do so with fervor. They may be a good band, but clearly this is the medium where they truly shine. Not every band can be Radiohead. If you excel at video making (and clearly that is where Ok Go’s true skill set lies) then you must embrace that.
The video, which you can check out at the end of the post, features one of the most complex Rube Goldberg machines I’ve ever seen along with some very intricate camerawork and choreography from the band itself, all culminating in a pretty goddamn awesome climax. It’s a phenomenal achievement and must have taken dozens of takes, and painstaking resets, to get right. ‘Awe-inspiring’ is probably the word for it, though I prefer ‘kick-ass.’
The video– and perhaps even the song title itself– also takes a shot at the band’s past internet successes with a brief moment in which a TV playing the “Here It Goes Again” video is smashed ruthlessly by a sledgehammer; an apt description for what is, in all likelihood, once again headed the band’s way. They’ll be ready for it, let’s just hope it sells them some albums this time.
Of the Colour of the Blue Sky is out now via Capitol Records. Buy it. Or go create a Mr. Belvedere-related meme on 4chan.