Last night, the newest OK Go video to spread around the web had an unconventional premiere — rather than bowing big in front of a stadium of fans, or broadcastin on MTV2, the newest take on This Too Shall Pass was shown first at last night’s Ignite LA, the O’Reilly Media-founded lecture series celebrating passion and innovation.
The reason is that Adam Sadowsky of Syyn Labs was there to show off the results of several months of building, testing and development: An epic four-minute-long Rube Goldberg machine in action, set to the band’s current single. Nearly four minutes in length, nearly any found object you can imagine gets incorporated into a daisy chain of elegant chaos. So much is happening nearly every moment that it becomes overwhelming at times, but re-watching it proves helpful — which is probably only part of why, after being online for less than a day, the video is closing in on 50,000 views.
However, the mark of a great music video is the synthesis between music and visuals, with maybe even a bit of storytelling while you’re at it. And using that definition, I wouldn’t say This Too Shall Pass is a complete success. There are a few moments that are truly beautiful, such as when all the sound cuts out for the water glass chimes, but it also opens them up to jokes about how easy it is to replicate their percussion sound by just knocking over a bunch of trash cans.
I’m also, frankly, not sure how a Rube Goldberg machine relates to lyrics like “So just how far/Is far enough?/Everybody needs to sleep at night/Everybody needs a crutch./But couldn’t good/Be good enough?/Cause nothin’ doesn’t ever change/But nothing changes much.” (I mean, if I put some serious time and thought into it, I could probably write a very long and introspective musing about how those words relate to a epic string of causality. Check back with me in a week and we’ll see.)
In the meantime, before I get called a hater, though, let me be clear — just because it’s not necessarily a great music video doesn’t mean it’s not an amazing accomplishment and a stunningly executed video. And most importantly for us whiny online video bloggers — it’s embeddable.
Record label EMI’s decision to disable embedding on music videos under its control has been a point of frustration for the band, and lead singer Damian Kulash has been incredibly vocal about the frustrations he as an artist feels about the issue of embedding, both in an interview with us last January and a more recent New York Times editorial. But the way that the band has gotten around the embedding problem in this case may have something to do with the fact that the entire video production was underwritten by State Farm Insurance, which gets some semi-prominent on-screen branding.
The development and production of this video has been documented in a four-part series of videos (the first one can be found here), and it’s inspiring to see a group of people gather together to create something awesome on this scale. My favorite touch is this — the band performs the entire video while wearing paint-splattered jumpsuits, the reason for which is revealed only at the end of the piece. What this indicates is simple: The final product we’re watching was one of multiple takes. The fact they acknowledge this tacitly does more than a hundred making-of videos to indicate the work that went into the piece — and the fun they had in the process.
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