New reels: ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ by OK Go

They’re clever chaps are OK Go, you have to give them that. Not only for the fiendishly intricate one-take videos they create but also, as I discussed before, because they have adapted to the multi-media age in a very savvy way. By harnessing the power of the viral video to generate publicity they have managed to carve a fairly unique furrow for themselves, generating millions of hits with every new release.

However, as I also noted in the previous article this hasn’t translated very well in to actual record or ticket sales. They barely scrape the top 40 in albums or singles charts, either at home in the US or anywhere else, their biggest ‘hit’ to date being 2002’s ‘Get Over It’. It’s a curious position to be in, and yet they seem to be quite at ease with it. They have a big following without being particularly famous and maybe that suits them fine.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily generate huge amounts of actual income, a problem solved this time by the fact that Japanese firm Honda funded the film as well as providing the UNI-CUB personal mobility units (snappy name…). With their videos becoming slowly more ambitious this is surely needed, although the criticism that this is in some ways an elaborate Honda advert would also see to be fair comment.

And what of the video (or indeed the song)? Filmed in Japan, it was shot at half-speed to slowed down version of the song (a ‘real time’ version of the video also exists) allowing for the complex choreography to be completed more accurately. It’s hugely enjoyable and the dot matrix effect it builds to works very well. It’s not my favourite video of theirs (that’s still the Rude Goldberg version of ‘This Too Shall Pass’) but it is maybe the most impressive in terms of scale and organisation. As for the song, it’s a likeable enough slice of disco-tinged pop music, very neatly produced and with a chorus that might stick around in your head if you let it.

As for OK Go, you have to wonder how they can keep this up, keep trying to top themselves. You also have to wonder if any of this will translate in to something that bothers the charts somewhere in the world. Being one of the best video bands around is a great thing, but you can’t help feeling that if they could write a massive hit song as memorable as their videos they really would have cracked this being-a-band-in-the-internet-age lark.

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