Steal This Remix: OK Go, “White Knuckles”

It’s been kind of quiet here in ESD Land, and that’s intentional – everyone has stuff to do during the holidays, and we’re only happy to wind things down so we can get our shopping done. But here’s a little pre-Christmas treat for you all, courtesy of the people behind what my daughter calls the doggie video, OK Go.

Like most remixes these days, the majority of the original song didn’t survive, but there are a few lines from the song and a keyboard riff here and there. And hey, it’s free. Can’t beat free. Happy holidays, everyone. See you in 2011.

OK Go – White Knuckles (Sam Sparro remix)


Seen Your Video: OK Go, “Last Leaf”

Two words: animated toast.


Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #10 “Here It Goes Again”

When looking for the 10th song to round out my first collection of Quintessential Songs of the ’00s — by the way, I’m dubbing this playlist “The Rock Set” — I had a few different contenders, but settled on OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again” which typified the decade in that it became a hit after the band posted its unique video (a.k.a. “The Treadmill Video”) on YouTube.

The video became an internet sensation (even spawning this rendition from a group of industrious students at a high school talent show) and it doesn’t hurt that the song is catchy as hell, either.

According to the song’s wiki page, it took 17 takes to finally nail the video.

So that wraps up the first Quintessential Songs of the ’00s set. Here’s an overview:

1. The White Stripes: “Seven Nation Army”
2. Franz Ferdinand: “Take Me Out”
3. Modest Mouse: “Float On”
4. Jet: “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”
5. Kings of Leon: “Use Somebody”
6. The Killers: “Mr. Brightside”
7. The Strokes: “Last Night”
8. Spoon: “The Way We Get By”
9. The Hives: “Hate to Say I Told You So”
10. OK Go: “Here I Go Again”

See all 10 posts here.


Seen Your Video: OK Go, “End Love”

Sweet Jesus. OK Go has done it again.

What I love about “End Love” is that the stop motion photography reminds me of Zbigniew Rybczyński’s groundbreaking videos in the early ’80s, particularly the Art of Noise’s “Close (To the Edit)” and Lou Reed’s “Original Wrapper.” Only, of course, OK Go takes the concept into outer space by turning the clip into an all-nighter and, in the end, a giant group production. Along with a few very curious geese.

Tim is clearly the best dancer of the bunch here, but that’s almost become an in-joke of sorts. If Dan and Andy suddenly learned how to be as fluid as Tim, it wouldn’t look right. The occasional inclusion of super slo-mo shots was a nice touch too, but nothing touches that human cyclone at song’s end. And now that they have gained control of the album and released it on their own label, we don’t have to worry about any of that ‘no embedding’ nonsense. Get comfy. You’re going to need to watch this one a couple times to catch everything.


OK Go: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

RIYL: Prince, MGMT, Death Cab for Cutie

They are only releasing their third album, but OK Go has rather shrewdly defined themselves as a multimedia phenomenon rather than a rock band. It’s a genius move, really, because suddenly the standard benchmarks for judging a band’s success are thrown out the window. Did the last album go gold? Who cares? The video they made of themselves dancing on treadmills has racked up over 49 million plays on YouTube. They are, in short, the kind of band that record labels used to kill to have on their roster; their devoted fan base would guarantee that all of the band’s albums would sell reasonably well, and as an added bonus, they allowed their bean-counting overlords to tell people that they believe in the creative process above all else. (Pssst. They don’t.)

©Jeremy & Claire Weiss Photography/Day19.

You get the sense that the band is more than aware of their rather fortunate place in the pop universe, because they just used that freedom to create their most adventurous, and consistent, album to date. Of the Blue Colour of the Sky bears little resemblance to the over-caffeinated power pop that once served as the band’s calling card, trading the muscular grooves of their 2005 album Oh No for something, well, groovier. Prince’s influence is all over the place, from the Parade-ish “WTF?” (complete with a 5/4 time signature and rip-roaring solo) to the slammin’ “White Knuckles,” which is one of the best “1999” covers ever. (Likewise “End Love,” which is this album’s “I Would Die 4 U.”) Singer Damian Kulash gives the falsetto an extensive workout here, which is fitting with the lyrical content; he’s clearly had his heart broken – “Needing/Getting” is the Jilted Lover song of the year – so the falsetto gives good voice to his pain.

If they’re smart, OK Go will consider adding producer Dave Fridmann as an unofficial fifth member, because his influence here cannot be underestimated. The drum tracks sound like the stuff of Steve Lillywhite’s wet dreams circa 1983, and the guitars are crystal-clear. He clearly encouraged the band to think big, because these songs bob and weave in ways the band had never dared to try before; “Needing/Getting” and “Skyscraper” both feature lengthy outros, and the overall sound is positively massive compared to the stripped down Oh No. If there’s a catch, it’s the album’s final third; there is nothing particularly wrong with the songs, but emotional fatigue begins to creep in. And then, in the final moments of closing track “In the Glass,” they clean the slate with one hellacious tribute to “I Want You/She’s So Heavy,” a slow-building, climbing/falling chord sequence that will give Chris and Ben from Death Cab fits. If only Fridmann hadn’t recorded the drums so hot at the end; the music is so pretty, but when turned above a whisper, the drums sound like an avalanche. Pity, since Fridmann had done such a good job avoiding that pitfall up until then.

Of the Blue Colour of the Sky may not bring many new fans to the OK Go camp – outside of a few Prince devotees – but we’re guessing that doesn’t really concern the band much, and that is exactly how it should be; the second a band starts worrying about what other people think of them, they’re done. At this rate, it wouldn’t surprise us to see OK Go turn into the pop equivalent of Wilco. God knows, the world could use more of those. (Capitol 2010)

OK Go MySpace page
Click to buy Of the Blue Colour of the Sky from Amazon