Unlike the slick new Gorillaz video, OK Go’s new “This Too Shall Pass,” isn’t a high-def, high-production mix of spooky Mos-Def/Bobby Womack, the California desert, 3D animated characters, and Hollywood stars. It’s much, much better than that. And because it was made by the band, it can live anywhere on the Internet, not just on the record company’s Youtube page.
Recently, OK Go has been issuing an epistulary smackdown to their record company EMI for forbidding video embeds (because they don’t earn the company the pennies it gets from Youtube hits), and for generally not understanding this thing we call the Internet. For instance, the official music video for “This Too Shall Pass” can only be seen on Youtube.
So the band made their own video, and it’s one of the most incredible we’ve seen. In one take, we get a tour of an awesome Rube Goldberg machine in action, made of tiny marbles, bitty springs, falling pianos and smashed televisions, bowling ball basketballs, a mini Mars rover, flying mannequins, paint cannons and a lot more surprises that demand multiple viewings. It’s a tribute to Pee-Wee, the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, the game Mouse Trap) and The Way Things Go.
And like the seminal treadmill video that put the band on the inter-map, it’s a DIY affair made by the band themselves. In this case, they had the financial backing of State Farm Insurance (ooh, new trend?), and the help of the big team of DIY nerds at Syynlabs (including, apparently, 80s sitcom actor Adam Sadowksy).
The requirements were that it had to be interesting, not “overbuilt” or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow. The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on time over a 3.5 minute song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot. To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.
A brilliant concept, brilliantly executed, built around a machine that does more than just make us jump up and down. It lets the band’s fans spread the video love – and maybe helps teach record executives a thing or two about the meaning and value of DIY in the Internet age.