We’ve come a long way from pink pants and treadmills. In OK Go’s latest mind-boggling music video for “I Won’t Let You Down,” we see the group in sleek black suits, zooming around Japan on hi-tech Honda UNI-CUBs. The little seat-scooters propel the alt rockers into a mesmerizingly beautiful video.
The camera pans out to an aerial shot as hundreds of dancers join the band. With multicolored umbrellas and lightning-quick movement, they twirl like a big human snowflake in perfect synchronization. The cameras eventually pan out to satellite heights in a sequence that was actually filmed by drones. At this point, each umbrella-topped dancer becomes just a pixel, spelling out OK Go’s lyrics and name. The effect is drop-dead hypnotic.
OK. I have loved this band ever since I saw their famous treadmill video for “Here it Goes Again” in 2006. As they hopped across the moving fitness equipment, everything, from the homemade aluminum foil backdrop to the awkward near-slips, stole my heart.
In the years I obsessed over their audio, the world was obsessing over their video. OK Go has released tons of eye-catching, low budget music videos for us to drop our jaws at. In “Do What You Want,” they covered everything (including themselves) in chaotic red wallpaper. “Invincible” played with explosives, and had them blowing up things like armchairs, boomboxes, and bottles of champagne. “A Million Ways” was just them dancing in their backyard, and it was no less amazing. Recently, “The Writing’s on the Wall” showed them dashing around to build incredible, nonstop optical illusions. At the end, the full crew pops out from behind the set and applauds the successful take. It may be my favorite music video, period.
Which brings me to “I Won’t Let You Down.” They didn’t. It’s one of the most ambitious videos I have ever seen, and every second of it grabbed me. Having cheered them on for years, I am truly excited that they are able to take on projects at this level of grandeur. But it was almost too perfect.
Just as I loved finding out that the blood in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was actually Hershey’s syrup and the stabbing noises were actually made with melons, I love getting a little glimpse of how someone got creative and made it work, against whatever odds. This is the only OK Go video that seems to be void of that. It was so seamlessly polished that I found myself missing their home-video charm. The further the cameras zoomed out, the further away they seemed.
There is no doubt that this music video is a masterpiece, and I’m not saying I want to see them make mistakes or struggle to create their vision. I just don’t want them to lose that underdog element that makes their videos so engaging.