Tag Archives: Ok Go

New OK Go Video – “White Knuckles”

OK Go may have created a monster with its first video for the song Here It Goes Again.” This is the video that featured the band members doing dance moves on treadmills in perfect timing to the song. It basically got everyone excited about the band again. ANYWAY … now, they have to top their last video with every subsequent one because the first so cool. And let’s face it, would we  care about a new OK Go song without these little visual masterpieces?

To the band’s credit, they have kept it going. Their second video includes an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that was set to motion in one unbroken camera shot. It’s got 17 million-plus views so far.

The newest music video for the song White Knuckles involves dogs, and because of that, it is our video pick of the week. It already has 3 million views, but here it is if you missed it when it first made the rounds.

BTW – Does anyone think this song sounds like Prince?

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Ok Go’s new video brought to you by State Farm

ok go musicFor those of us in the marketing world, it’s hard to ignore the increasing importance that social media is playing in our marketing strategy and the way that our messages reach their audience. Social media not only can help increase our reach in a relatively cost effective way, but it provides a platform for engagement with consumers. Marketers and advertisers are constantly trying to come up with ways to create something interesting enough to spread virally through the web, whether it’s via blogs, YouTube or Facebook. It’s a marketer’s dream. So it’s hard to imagine that some companies would actually impede the process.

But it’s something the band Ok Go knows all too well.

You may remember Ok Go from their music video a few years back for the song “Here It Goes Again”, an elaborately choreographed number on moving treadmills. They rose to fame as the video spread like wildfire online via YouTube (nearly 50 million views on YouTube alone), thus spawning many other media appearances. As Damian Kulash, the lead singer and guitarist, said himself, “To the band, “Here It Goes Again” was a successful creative project. To the record company, it was a successful, completely free advertisement.” It seemed to be a win-win.

But the success of that video had larger implications due to the ever changing landscape of the music industry and their struggle to find alternative sources of revenue. Major labels started to set up partnerships with video sharing sites such as YouTube so they get a small kick back when one of their artists’ videos is viewed, thus making back some money that they invested to get the videos produced. Ok Go’s parent label EMI, for one, has taken issue people embedding their popular videos on “non-partner sites”, such as the enthralling blog you are reading now, because they aren’t able to capitalize on the views. Ok Go has taken a clear stance on this, and for good reason. They owe their fame to viral promotion. See their open letter on the subject here, and a New York Times Op-Ed piece written by Kulash here.

Either unfazed or unaware of the situation at hand, Ok Go set out to recreate the experience people had with the “Here it Goes Again” video after the release of their latest album. But they have upped the ante with their new video for the song “This Too Shall Pass”. Still high concept, but with (it seems) a bigger budget. In the video, we are walked through a complex gadget built with meticulously-timed, domino effects that take us on a ride of one visual stimulus after the next. It’s a large-scale game of Mouse Trap set to music. And like its predecessor, it’s filmed all in one take. Oh, and the songs pretty catchy to boot. It’s creative, original and entertaining; a sure-fire viral hit. At the timing of this post, the video had been live for just 3 days and already had over 2.5 million views on YouTube.

Someone at EMI eventually realized that to hinder the spread of the video would be a mistake. So as a solution, they signed on State Farm as a sponsor of the video. As you watch the video, the truck that starts off the entire chain of events displays the State Farm logo. And in case you miss that, they are sure to mention it again at the end of the video. Average Joe You Tube Viewer probably has no idea what went on behind the scenes and that the sponsorship happened after the fact as a resolution to be able to allow the video to be embedded, so the State Farm endorsement may be a little confusing. But with the millions of views, the brand is getting great exposure and EMI makes a few extra bucks.

While music videos are often creative outlets for the artists, they essentially serve as an advertisement for the band and their music. They are a promotional tool, but typically not a direct revenue stream themselves. I am sympathetic with record companies these days as they struggle to find their financial footing in the new millennium, but charging the medium doesn’t seem to be the right answer. It almost like asking NBC to pay Budweiser to be able to air their funny commercials, not vice versa. Back in the day when MTV actually played videos, they didn’t pay the bands or labels to air that content, so why should that be the case in the YouTube generation? Further, why would you want to prohibit other people from spreading your message for you? As Kulash put it earlier, it’s essentially free advertising. The popularity of the video means more fans, which to EMI should mean increased sales of albums, digital downloads, merchandise, publishing deals, and concert tickets. The profit they make from these sales has to be more than the small percentage of kick back they are getting from the video-sharing websites. But of course I’ve never seen their income statement.

What has made music videos work all of these years is their dual purpose of promotion and entertainment. Not long after MTV’s launch, Rolling Stone writer Steven Levy wrote “MTV’s greatest achievement has been to coax rock & roll into the video arena where you can’t distinguish between entertainment and the sales pitch.” Herein lies the problem with the State Farm sponsorship of the Ok Go video. It makes that blurred line of promotion and entertainment much more overt. It says to the viewer that this video was not created as a way for a band to entertain and interact with their fans, it was done so to make a profit. (I realize that this was not the intention of Ok Go in this case, as the sponsorship was a necessary means to an end to allow the embedding.) Is Ok Go going to have to get a sponsor for every video now? That is sure to have an adverse effect on their fan base. So not only is EMI alienating the Gen Y audience by disallowing them to consume and share the content in the way they want, but they are going to drive them away by explicitly commercializing such content. Sounds like a lose-lose.

As a side note, Ok Go previously released a live performance video of the song “This Too Shall Pass”, which featured the Notre Dame marching band. It’s also done in just one take, and it’s quirky entertainment, in true Ok Go fashion. Of course there are no Notre Dame logos in the video, as I’m sure that kind of “brand exposure” would have cost them.

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New Moon soundtrack review


Hi, my name is Jennie and I’m a Twi-hard. I realize that as a grown adult, publicly confessing that I am addicted to all things “Twilight” could be potentially damaging to my reputation, but I hear the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. It also helps to know I am not alone in this. Case in point: the demand for the release of the soundtrack to the newest “Twilight” installment “New Moon” was so high, that the soundtrack was released four days earlier than scheduled due to early leaks online.

But beyond the “Twilight” hype, there was even more reason for me to look forward to the album’s release, and that was the line-up of artists contributing original songs exclusively to the album. While the first Twilight soundtrack was heavy in modern alt-rock, this edition is more indie folk-rock from lesser known bands and artists. The album is made up of artists who have more of a mainstream following (Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie) as well as the up and coming indie darlings of college radio (Sea Wolf, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear).

The overall mood of the album is much more melancholy than its predecessor, which would make sense to anyone who has read the book or knows the background of “New Moon”. The opening track, and first single released off the album, is “Meet Me on the Equinox” by Death Cab for Cutie. They’re not a band to shy away from darker themes (see previous works “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” or “I Will Possess Your Heart”), and this song is no exception. The lyrics speak of love, while reminding us over and over “that everything ends”. It’s pretty standard Death Cab material.

One standout on the album is Swedish songstress Lykke Li’s “Possibility”. The song is a departure from the pop I’m used to hearing from her, and the stripped-down sounds of the song makes it all the more affecting. Her airy voice and the sparse piano accompaniment are mesmerizing. Singer songwriter Anya Marina contributes her breathy “Satellite Heart”, another sad but pretty lover’s lament. The tracks by Bon Iver & St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear are eerie, hazy numbers that continue along with the solemn nature of the album. While this sound is typically for these artists and the songs  fit well here, it may prove to be a little inaccessible for those expecting more Paramore as in the first soundtrack.

It is no surprise to see Muse included on this soundtrack, as Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has named the band has her inspiration (or her muse, if you will) while writing the series. The song “I Belong To You” is also on Muse’s latest album Resistance, but is remixed here for “New Moon” (the difference from the original is slight). The other moment of rock comes early on the album comes from Band of Skulls with their song “Friends”.

Though the overall tone of the album is somber and muted, there are a couple up-tempo songs included as well. “Monsters” by Hurricane Bells and “Violet Hour“ by Sea Wolf are both jaunty alt-rock songs that add a welcome pep among an album full of mostly downers. Even vampires have to have a little fun, right?

Other tracks of note are the surprising “Shoot the Moon” by Ok Go and “No Sound But the Wind” by Editors. The former song by Ok Go, a band probably best known for their YouTube-promoted music video choreographed on moving treadmills, starts off with a timpani drum line that adds an interesting contrast to the otherwise light sounding song. They experiment with synthesizers and various woodwinds before erupting into an all-out guitar jam towards the end. Editors’ piano ballad a haunting but none the less beautiful final track, thanks to the vocals by lead singer Tom Smith.

As a whole, the soundtrack is an intriguing mix of sullen indie-rock that will provide an appropriate backdrop for the movie. If nothing else, it will provide great exposure for these bands to reach mass audiences. But will being on this mega-marketed movie soundtrack launch any of these largely unknown bands into superstardom? It’s too early to tell, but as in the realm of vampires and werewolves, anything is possible.

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