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Music / OK Go

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Left to right: Tim Norwind, Andy Ross, Damien Kulash, Dan Konopka. Not pictured: Andy Duncan.
OK Go is an Alternative Rock/Power Pop band. The band formed in 1998, and have gone from being an also-ran in the early 2000s "Return of Rock" that also spawned The Strokes and The White Stripes to being internationally famous for their inventive music videos which are often complex, shot in one take and on a low budget.

Their most recognized song is "Here It Goes Again", famous for the music video where the four members performed a choreographed dance over several sets of treadmills. More recently, "This Too Shall Pass" gained a degree of notoriety thanks to its Rube Goldberg machine video. They got really famous after winning a MacArthur Genius Grant for the video for “upside down and inside out.”

The group currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

The band's albums are:

  • OK Go (2002)
  • Oh No (2005)
  • Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (2010)
  • Hungry Ghosts (2014)

Their videos include:

This band provides examples of the following tropes

  • All Just a Dream: The Muppet Show Theme video is shown to be all just Damian Kulash's nightmare, which was inside of Dr. Teeth's nightmare, which was inside of Tim Nordwind's nightmare.
  • Alternate Music Video:
    • "Do What You Want" had a video consisting in tour footage before they released "Version 2 (Wallpaper Background)", which has them and other people singing and dancing while they and their props are all completely covered in the same pattern as the background (and has nearly 5 times as many views).
    • "This Too Shall Pass" has a music video where the members perform live as part of a marching band, and another, released months later, featuring an extremely elaborate Rube Goldberg Device synced with the song.
  • Anti-Love Song:
    • So Damn Hot. Though it's not in the "love hurts" vein and more in the "she strings me along, and toys with my emotions, but I'm ok with it because she's sexy" variety. Like a less emotionally wrecked version of Miserable.
    • The Writing's On The Wall is somewhere between this and a normal Break Up Song, addressed from the singer to their lover about how their chemistry has fallen apart, and they want to have one last good time together before separating.
  • Blatant Lies: In "Oh Lately It's So Quiet" there's a lyric "I don't think much about you anymore"... even though the entire song is him wondering what his ex is up to.
  • Break Up Song: "The Writing's On the Wall" is about a couple where the love went out of their relationship because they just don't see eye-to-eye. The video is full of optical illusions, and in the middle is the text: "I think I understand you but I don't."
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Done with Japanese Schoolgirls and Honda UNI-CUBs (think sit-down Segways) in the video for "I Won't Let You Down".
  • Call-Back: One of the sample messages for their interactive video for "All Is Not Lost" is "Let it go, this too shall pass."
    • The "Muppet Show" video features brief call-backs to the videos for "Here It Goes Again", "All Is Not Lost", "This Too Shall Pass", and "White Knuckles", with each one being somehow interrupted by the Muppets.
  • The Cameo: Japanese girl group Perfume appear in the preamble of the "I Won't Let You Down" video.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The end of the "Muppet Show" video, no less than three times, each with a different twist.
  • Changed for the Video: The video for "Needing/Getting" chose to forego the standard rock four-piece version of the song for the video, by arranging the song to be performed by a rally car. The car was outfitted with a number of rods, designed to hit pianos, pipes and guitars lined up on the sides of the track.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • End Love:
      • Tim: pink/orange (?)
      • Damian: yellow
      • Andy: red
      • Dan: blue
    • This Too Shall Pass:
      • Tim: red
      • Damian: blue
      • Dan: green
      • Andy: yellow
    • Upside Down & Inside Out:
      • Tim: pink
      • Damian: blue
      • Andy: red
      • Dan: green
    • "Needing/Getting", same color scheme as "This Too Shall Pass".
    • The booklet for Of The Blue Color Of The Sky. Each track represents a different color in the various graphs.
    • Their whole video for Sesame Street. Well it is meant to be teaching kids about the Three Primary Colors.
    • Andy tends to be dressed in red.
  • Common Meter: "Upside Down & Inside Out" brings to mind Megadeth's "Sweating Bullets" with these two lines matching:
    Upside Down and Inside Out: Don't know where your eyes are / but they're not doin' what you said / Don't know where your mind is baby / but you're better off without it.
    Sweating Bullets: I'm in trouble for the things / I haven't got to yet / I'm chomping at the bit and my / Palms are getting wet
  • Creator In-Joke: The band's name - Tim and Damien first met at an art camp when they were 11, where they had an eccentric art teacher who basically had "OK, go!" as his catchphrase.
  • Depth Deception: The video for "The Writing's On the Wall" is full of them, including the title written out twice, and a bunch of random objects suspended in air which looked like Tim when viewed from above.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The ending of The Muppet Show Theme video.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Toyed with briefly in the second video for "This Too Shall Pass", but taken up to eleven in the video for "Needing/Getting", in which the song is played by a car driving on a rally course, with various appendages attached to strike different instruments and objects as it passes by.
  • Everything's Precious with Puppies: The video for "White Knuckles" features an entire crew of dogs of different breeds. Aside from the single line "You'll never get the pawprint out of the henhouse now," the song has nothing to do with dogs.
  • Hidden Track: "9027 KM", an unlisted track at the end of the US version of Oh No, consists of 35 minutes of the sounds of Damian's girlfriend sleeping.
  • Mind Screw: The music video for "The Writing's On the Wall", centered around optical illusions and trickery.
  • Mythology Gag: In their video for the cover of The Muppet Show's theme song, they have Animal holding up Dan during the sequence where the Muppets are using the band like puppets.
    • It also has a shot of the band on treadmills, though not lined up in the same setup as "Here it Goes Again". Also Damian smooshing his face on glass while wearing a sea-foam green bodysuit in and the the bit with the Swedish Chef and tower of Dixie cups play homage to the video's for "All is Not Lost" and the second "This Too Shall Pass".
    • The ending makes a reference to "White Knuckles," since Tim wakes from a Catapult Nightmare saying "We can't do that video with those dogs." They also have a "one of these things is not like the other" moment with a sheep in the bed along with the dogs (in the actual White Knuckles video, one of the members tries to walk a goat across the scene while the dogs were running everywhere).
  • New Sound Album: Of The Blue Colour of The Sky is a lot more electronic, psychedelic and down-tempo than their previous sound, while Hungry Ghosts has an obvious influence from electropop and disco.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: "Upside Down & Inside Out" begins with a disclaimer that what the viewer is about to see is real, as it's shot in a plane in the air, using aerial techniques to send the interior of the plane into zero gravity. The disclaimer also says that the video contains no wires or green screen effects.
  • The Oner: They're masters at this technique, as showcased in their music videos for "A Million Ways", "Here It Goes Again", "WTF?", both versions of "This Too Shall Pass"note , "End Love"note , "White Knuckles", "The Writing's On the Wall", "I Won't Let You Down", "Upside Down and Inside Out"note , and "The One Moment"note .
  • Overcrank: The video for "The One Moment" is three and a half minutes long, but most of it takes place over 4.2 seconds of real-time.
  • Practical Effects: Their second specialty after The Oner, using real-world objects to provide the special effects. Unlike most uses of this trope, it's not to provide a realistic-looking scene, but to produce a distinct and unique image.
    • "Obsession" uses a giant wall of printers to simulate a greenscreen, with each printer producing a part of a larger image.
    • "I Won't Let You Down" uses colored parasols at the end to replicate the image of five single-color LED screens.
    • "Last Leaf" is an animation done with pieces of toast as a medium.
    • "The Writing's On The Wall" uses a ton of Forced Perspective to replicate abstract images usually expected as post-processing. This is best exemplified with the first scene with the band members in it, where it appears that the song's title has been overlaid onto the still shot, until the group starts moving around the foreground objects and carrying the title's letters with them.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • "Don't Ask Me" contains the only one on their self-titled debut.
      Don't be so damn benign
      And don't waste my fucking time
    • There's also a Precision B-Strike in "Get Over It", in the line "Ain't it just a bitch?"
    • Rather predictably, there's also one in "WTF?"
  • Product Placement: Many of the inventive music videos that have made the group famous were underwritten by different sponsors, most notably the Chevy Sonic featured in the "Needing/Getting" video. Since the sponsors tend to lay off on the Executive Meddling and just let OK Go do their thing, this is arguably one of the more positive examples of the trope.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Bunny, Damian's dog, who has been featured in their videos, "White Knuckles" and "The Muppet Show Theme Song" and is Surprised Dog on youtube.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: In their "This Too Shall Pass" music video.
  • Self-Deprecation: Their acceptance speech for the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Tim Nordwind sings lead on "C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips".
    • In a sort of variation of this, Tim does the lip syncing for some of their videos instead of Damian, including "Here It Goes Again" and "White Knuckles".
  • Stuff Blowing Up: "Invincible".
  • Undercrank: Almost the entirety of the video for "End Love", with a few bits of Overcrank for contrast.
    • "I Won't Let You Down" was filmed at half speed to make the complex choreography a little easier to follow.
    • "Upside Down and Inside Out" was filmed at approximately 78% speed to get the choreography to match the lengths of the "zero-G parabolas" the plane had to fly in while the video was filmed.