OK Go enjoying viral video craze

April 7, 2007


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Even if you don’t consider yourself an OK Go fan, chances are still good you’re familiar with their videos.

At last count, some 15 million people had downloaded the video for the Chicago pop-rock outfit’s single Here it Goes Again, an impossibly cool dance routine on six moving treadmills.

The clip — which nabbed a Grammy for best short-form music video, and a YouTube award for most creative video — is a perfect illustration of how little-known bands can become household names through the magic of viral marketing.

It’s also a good example of how the medium can overshadow the message, not that the band is complaining.

“The important thing to always remember is that this stuff would not even exist were it not for the songs on the records,” says bassist Tim Nordwind (the bespectacled gent seen lip-synching atop those treadmills). “But if the video is the entry point for someone to become an OK Go fan, well that’s fine with me.”

It’s rare for YouTube lightning to strike twice, but OK Go have seen two of their videos become worldwide phenomenons. The first — another dance number scored to the track A Million Ways — was never intended for mass consumption.

Choreographed by singer Damian Kulash’s sister, the routine was created so OK Go could carry on their tradition of using boy-band-inspired dance steps to close their show. They filmed a no-budget backyard video to see what their moves looked like, and the rest is history.

“We wanted to show our friends what was coming next, so we posted a link for like, 50 to 100 people,” says Nordwind. “Our friends started passing it around to other friends, and in a few months even magazines were picking up on it.

“A few months later, it had become the most downloaded video in Internet history, which was insanely f–ed up. We didn’t plan that, and we never imagined something could travel like that virally.”

The attention came in handy while the band was promoting its latest CD Oh No, and while Nordwind and his cohorts wrestled with concerns about “becoming that dancing band,” in the end, they decided to give the strategy another go.

The treadmill clip, shot in one take, took 17 tries to get right, and the bandmates found themselves having to learn the routine again a year later when they were asked to perform it at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.

So after twice landing at the top of the viral video heap, you’d figure Nordwind and his bandmates would already be hard at work on the next one. Hardly.

“We’re making another record,” he says. “We’d like to go away a bit and create more songs that we can create a world around … Like I said before, all that stuff is inspired by the music, so there’s a lot more thought as to what the next song is going to be, as opposed to the next video.”


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