If Madonna was the main driver and emblem of the MTV music video wave of the early 90s, then OK Go! is the poster child of viral music video in our era. From the time the group broke through in 2006 with its incredible treadmill ballet for "Here It Goes Again" to the more recent Rube Goldberg epic contraption for "This Too shall Pass," this is a group that like Madonna, defined itself by the latest technology. Their music and video are now inseparable. You can't hear the song without the viral video images playing in your head, and in many ways the video is the lead product here -- not the tune. If the video-recorded stunt is the most essential creative element of the user-generated video era (skateboarding off of roofs and jackass moments of epic failure), then OK! Go's appeal comes from taking that essence of the form to an extravagant level. They are the stunt YouTube form elevated to art. But we still sit back in wonder just how the hell they did that?
Unlike the previous two videos the new "End Love" piece is more of a document of human endurance. Mainly stop-action using the band members and a cast of humans and animals, this video raises the question, "Just how long did that take to make?"
And arguably until now OK Go was a pure Web band, in that their videos were not even designed for download or porting to other media. They seemed to live and breathe naturally among the swapped "gotta-see-this" clips of the YouTube environment. This time, however, they have made the work downloadable, and they have turned distribution into a contest. Fans are instructed in how to download the video and then upload it to their own Facebook page. The object is to get the most comments from friends in the next two weeks.
And these kids are Internet-savvy. Free-for-all anonymous media sharing is a great way to build a new band's name recognition. But when you want to sell the goods and move those tickets, let alone develop an ongoing relationship with the audience, then you are going to have to take names. This model allows the band to direct everyone to the home site to submit an email address before getting the download. Well, at least now I won't be the 500,000th person to discover their latest video.