Kids, gather ’round. It’s story time.
In the eighties, before on demand and DVRs and Netflix and Hulu and YouTube, when we wanted to waste time, we binge-watched music videos which played 24 hours a day on MTV and VH1. Great songs by Phil Collins, a-ha, Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Tom Petty, and others (that’s right, I went there) were accompanied by mind-blowing, creative visuals. I know they look a bit goofy now, but to us, they were life changing. This golden age lasted almost a decade, then began a slow decline.
By the mid-nineties, the creativity and production value of music videos was on a decidedly downward trajectory. MTV and VH1 started playing reality TV (that’s right, Real World, I’m talking to you), and the world largely lost interest in music videos. Video games gained in popularity, and the next generation essentially stopped watching. This made me very sad, though we did still have Madonna, the Jacksons, Nirvana, and a few others who had enough pull with their record companies to continue to make great videos in spite of the slump.
By the early aughts, internet speeds started picking up, and music video production started to regain momentum. Videos by visionaries like Beyonce, Gorillaz, Morningwood, and Lady Gaga went viral and did a great deal to revive the genre. Then along came OK Go.
Their music is great – very listenable, very catchy, very tuneful, but from the beginning, what really made them stand out was their music videos. They first appeared on my radar – and likely on yours – with their video for “Here It Goes Again” in which they did choreography on treadmills. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Everyone has. They have made many very, very clever, inventive, highly-entertaining music videos over the years, and nearly all of them are one-take, single-camera shoots. One of the most successful elements of their videos is that they often let the viewer share their victories. They don’t cut off the rejoicing that happens when everything goes right. Instead, they let us watch, and I, for one, find myself cheering right along with them.
Without further ado, I give you OK Go’s “The Writing’s on the Wall,” the most technically-proficient, practical-effect, single camera, one-shot video you’ll likely ever see. Once again, mind blown.