OK Go Forth and Conquer

For those not yet familiar with OK Go, they’re an alternative rock band who exploded onto my radar a number of years ago as a result of their absurdly complex, gleefully imaginative music videos.

“This Too Shall Pass,” for example, is a masterpiece of Goldbergian, single-take extravagance that must be seen to be believed — and even then, only barely. “White Knuckles” is only slightly less insane, and a good bit more bizarre.  And who could forget their  viral smash-hit, the wildly tread-milling, one-take brilliance of “Here It Goes Again?” (Honestly, I almost never pay attention to the music, so mesmerized am I by the images. Not sure that’s quite what the group’s hoping to achieve, but they’ve definitely find a way to make themselves memorable.)

Imagine my excitement, then, when I stumbled across this clip a few days ago. (And imagine my surprise as I realized it was at least as much “stop motion/MTV Freneti-cut” as it was “single-take.”)

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Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” shares a few more details:

Earlier this year, we needed to figure out the best possible way to move my Tiny Desk from NPR’s old headquarters to our new facility just north of the U.S. Capitol. We wanted to go out with a bang and arrive at our new space in style, so our thoughts naturally turned to a catchy pop band we love: OK Go, whose unforgettable videos have been viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube.

Bandleader Damian Kulash used to be an engineer at an NPR member station in Chicago, so we figured he’d be up for helping us execute a simple idea: Have OK Go start performing a Tiny Desk Concert at our old location, continue playing the same song while the furniture and shelving is loaded onto a truck, and finish the performance at our new home. In addition to cameos by many of our NPR colleagues — Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, David Greene, Guy Raz, Scott Simon, Alix Spiegel, Susan Stamberg and more — this required a few ingredients:

Number of video takes: 223
Percent used in final version: 50
Number of raw audio channels: 2,007
Percent used in final version: 50
Number of microphones: 5
Number of hard-boiled eggs consumed: 8, mostly by bassist Tim Nordwind
Number of seconds Carl Kasell spent in the elevator with OK Go: 98
Number of times Ari Shapiro played the tubular bells: 15
Number of pounds the tubular bells weighed: 300
Number of times the shelves were taken down and put back up: 6
Number of days it took to shoot: 2
Number of cameras: 1

Looking for a way to turn my snap-shot impression of your signature “single-take” style on its head? Try 223 takes, all spliced together to produce a semi-single-take. That should do the trick. Nicely played, OK Go. (Also, Carl Kasell is awesome.)

On the other hand, the whimsy and humor of Goldberg is still present, so it’s not really that much of a departure, is it? And besides, “Last Leaf” is a two-and-a-half minute stop-motion animation. On a toast. So maybe Susanka just needs to broaden his horizons a bit. (And he should stop stealing blog post titles from NPR’s “This Is NPR” blog. But one thing at a time, I suppose.)

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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