In the quest to lure more eardrums to their music, bands will try anything to drive sympathetic eyeballs to their music videos. Lately it's bands like Atomic Tom, who claimed their instruments were stolen so they performed using iPhones on a subway car rocketing through New York City. Some bands skip the videos and go straight to the stunts: Recently, the L.A. band Imperial Stars blocked off the 101 freeway to perform a song on the roof of their tour bus. Its members were just charged with felonies. Now that's how you sell records!
And then there's OK Go, the band that's arguably the most innovative video-makers currently working in the medium. They don't need to resort to outrageous stunts because OK Go's whole body of work is itself one-long running stunt: A world where dogs, treadmills and Rube Goldberg-machines make cameos in a cohesive narrative that feels like a single, triumphant take. Their latest video, for the song "Back From Kathmandu," takes OK Go's honest, handcrafted creativity and wraps it into urban engagement with an interactive project they call Dance Through the City.
The band mapped out a route that spelled out "OK GO" on L.A. streets and corralled 100 of their friends to march with them as they performed the song on a sunny day in November. As day turned to night, they donned bike lights and strapped glowsticks to their instruments. (Funnily enough, I saw this happening in-person and while I thought it looked interesting, I dismissed it as a film school project. Everyone just looked a little too genuinely happy to be there.)
The video is entertaining enough in its zany Muppet-esque way, but here's the cool part: OK Go is asking its fans to make their own "GPS art," as they call it: Map out a route and make your own video, and it might be included in a future compilation video. Of course, there is a bit of a disclaimer here. The project was sponsored by Range Rover to promote its new product Evoque, a GPS app that tracks and maps urban movement. OK Go used the Evoque app to make their video, and they want you to use it, too. (But hey, at least Range Rover isn't asking you to drive the route.)
Where most music video concepts feel like bad reality shows, OK Go's videos are more like a creative brief. The members clearly set out to solve a design challenge—Can we dance on treadmills? Can we build a massive machine from reclaimed materials?—and this time they're letting their enthusiastic audience play along.