Here It Goes Again

OK Go
OK Go is a typical American alternative rock band. The band hasn’t created genre-busting tunes or revolutionized the way people think of music, but it has, in a way, redefined the gold standard for music videos.

Hailing from Chicago, Ill., OK Go isn’t known primarily for the music they create. Just as The Beatles are known for being innovators, The Rolling Stones for their longevity and The Dave Matthews band for great, impromptu live performances, OK Go is more well known for their music videos.

Ok Go band members

The band, comprised of Damian Kulash (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Norwind (bass, vocals), Dan Konopka (drums) and Andy Ross (guitar, keyboard), formed in 1998, though with a slightly different lineup. One of the original members parted ways with the band in 2005, just before OK Go achieved worldwide notoriety for “Here It Goes Again,” the band’s first breakout song from its second album, Oh No.

Here It Goes Again
The video for “Here It Goes Again”  features the four band members performing a dance routine on six treadmills. It may be a simple video, but it’s entertaining and it’s a concept that had never been done before in a music video. It took the group 17 attempts to finally master the routine in one shot.

Almost instantly the video went viral, becoming a YouTube Sensation and a public relations win, garnering more than 52 million views on the original posting of the video and more than 10 million on subsequent releases. As a result of its popularity, the video won the 2007 Grammy award for Best Short Form Music Video, the 2006 YouTube award for Most Creative Music Video and prompted MTV to ask OK Go to perform the video live at the 2006 MTV Music Awards show. Earlier this year, Time Magazine named the video one of the 30 greatest music videos of all time.

It’s hard to imagine that OK Go could have anticipated the success of the “Here It Goes Again” music video, but the band latched onto the combination of ingenuity and creativity displayed in that video and repeated it in future video endeavors. It was a cheaply made video, but the idea resulted in more notoriety than the band likely would have ever achieved without it. However, that wouldn’t be the last time one of OK Go’s music videos went viral.

This Too Shall Pass
“This Too Shall Pass” is a song from OK Go’s third and most recent album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky.” Like “Here It Goes Again,” the video for the song went viral with more than 30 million views on YouTube. The video features the same formula the band was able to bottle with “Here It Goes Again,” but this time a Rube Goldberg Machine was created, using more than 700 household items inside a two-story building to make a jigsaw like sequence of events culminating in the latter of the two videos above.

What It Means
OK Go proved that a band doesn’t need a large following or a huge budget to become successful. A little bit of creative thinking and the strategic use of social media can be enough to accomplish what you set out to do, if you’re lucky.

Lotus Flower

My Radiohead
My Radiohead experience has been a unique one from the time I heard about the band until today. The band formed in 1985, five years before I was born, though it didn’t release its first album until 1993. Needless to say, I was a little late on the Radiohead bandwagon.

Growing up, my musical tastes and my love of music in general was shaped by my older cousins. Being the young and impressionable kid I was, I thought the easiest way to be like them was to listen to the same music they listened to. This is why my parents were raising a 10-year-old kid who was listening to Nirvana and Weezer instead of ‘N Sync and The Backstreet Boys.

But the one band I could never get interested in was Radiohead. It was such a weird band, and the bottom line is that I just didn’t “get it.” Radiohead was never meant to be a band that was catchy, radio-friendly (no pun intended) and single-driven. Radiohead makes cohesive, unified bodies of work. The band makes albums that are meant to be listened to from beginning to end. If you take a song out of the context of one of their albums, it likely won’t make sense.

So when I was standing in f.y.e. listening to 30-second samples of Radiohead’s songs, it just didn’t click with me. Well it clicks now, and I get it.

Radiohead
RadioheadRadiohead, comprised of Thom Yorke (vocals), Jonny Greenwood (guitars, keyboards), Colin Greenwood (bass, keyboards), Phil Selway (drums) and Ed O’Brien (guitars, backing vocals), released their eight studio album in February, titled The King of Limbs. Throughout the years, Radiohead has become one of the biggest bands in the world, being named on Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest artists of all time list in 2005.

Public Relations Win
Radiohead is known for music, but the band is also recognized in the public relations world for its unique album release methods. Following touring for support of the band’s sixth studio album, Hail to Thief, the band broke ties with its record label, EMI. This is unusual, as most band’s would do anything to be signed to one of the “big four” record labels.

Free to do business in their own manner, Radiohead released their seventh album, In Rainbows, online via their website. All of this was announced just 10 days before the release, and the kicker is that they gave fans the option to pay whatever they wanted for the album, including downloading the album for nothing. The band sold less albums initially (though it was downloaded 1.2 million times by release day), but it made more money without a record label present to eat up most of the sales dollars.

In Rainbows was physically released two months later in the U.S. and U.K., sold millions of copies, charted at number one in both countries and won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, something the band had accomplished twice before with Kid A and OK Computer.

Lotus Flower
The music video featured above is for “Lotus Flower,” the only song from The King of Limbs to receive a video thus far. The video was directed by Garth Jennings and choreographed by Wayne McGregor. It was shot in black and white and features Thom York displaying some really funky dance moves. I didn’t know that man could move like this. Pretty impressive if you ask me. What is your reaction to the video? Is it cool or is it just weird?

“The Wheel Breaks The Butterfly”

Coldplay
Last week’s Oct. 24 release of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto marks the popular British rock band’s first new studio album in nearly three and a half years. The new album is Coldplay’s fifth album release since the formation of the group in the late 1990s, and the not-so-simple name of it is a title the four-peice group had been thinking about for two years during the creation of the record.

Singer Chris Martin said the title really has no meaning. The band liked it because it’s fresh, original and breathed new life into a weathered group. Mylo Xyloto’s first official single, “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” was released in June, but its second single, “Paradise,” is easily the best song on the record, marking yet another catchy, piano-driven ballad with a huge chorus.

Coldplay

Champion, Berryman, Martin and Buckland. image courtesy of Google Images

Martin, Jonny Buckland (lead guitar), Will Champion (drums/backing vocals) and Guy Berryman (bass guitar) , collectively known as Coldplay, have received generally mixed reviews for Mylo Xyloto thus far, though they will easily sell hundreds of thousands of copies and debut at number one after its first week on the market.

Paradise
I honestly havent heard the entire album yet, so I can’t give you an overall album review, but I can present you with the music video for “Paradise.” Also, I’m willing to bet that the paradise Martin speaks of is in no way a reference to anywhere in Ohio.

The lyrics to the song describe a girl’s wish to live in her paradise, though it’s never explained where the paradise is. In the music video, which has already logged more than eight million views, paradise takes on a different meaning. Paradise is in the plains of Africa – from an elephants point of view. I think this video helps explain the meaning of the song. Paradise is not the same for everyone. It all depends on whose point of view you’re looking from. Everybody has their own paradise – that one place you want to be more than anywhere else. Mine is a tall hill overlooking the countryside in the heart of Ohio. Where’s yours?

The video begins with a costumed elephant that’s trapped in a zoo-like development. This elephant counts its days of entrapment on the wall, desperately wishing to escape. After finally breaking free, we follow the elephant on its journey to its destination. Via trains, planes and unicycles, no method of transportation is too farfetched. While riding down the road on a unicycle, the man in the elephant costume removes the costume head to reveal that it is actually Martin. Is there anything that guy can’t do?

As the video closes, we see that Martin has reached the African plains where his bandmates are awaiting him, playing their instruments and yes, all dressed in elephant costumes.

Coldplay is generally known to have serious music videos, such as “The Scientist,” “Yellow” and “Fix You.” This one shows an entirely different side of them. It helps fans get a feel for what the band is like in a more relaxed mode..

For more on the band, visit its official website.

“I Got My Money On A Pawn Tonight”


The Killers
The Killers are a unique band to say the least. The members, Brandon Flowers (vocals), Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums), Dave Keuning (lead guitar) and Mark Stoermer (bass) give the band an unusual trademark sound, but in terms of genre and musical ability, they’re really nothing out of the ordinary.

But one thing that is proven to me over and over again is that everybody loves this band, including myself. If I were in a car full of people with different musical tastes and I had to pick one band or artist to listen to that would satisfy everybody, I would pick The Killers, hands down.

Formed in 2001 in Las Vegas, the band was born when Flowers was kicked out of his previous band. Looking to start a new group, he found Keuning via an ad. Vannucci and Stoermer joined shortly after and the group has since went on to sell more than 15 million albums worldwide while playing arenas across the globe. Needless to say, Flowers has probably never been happier about being kicked out of a band.

The Killers
Image courtesy of clashmusic.com

The band’s third and most recent album, Day & Age, has been certified gold in the U.S. and four times platinum in the U.K. It also spawned “A Dustland Fairytale,” today’s featured music video.


A Dustland Fairytale

With two and a half million views on YouTube, “A Dustland Fairytale” by The Killers isn’t even close to the band’s most watched music video, but it’s definitely their “deepest” one.

The band’s videos for songs like “Read My Mind” (10 million views), “Human” (16 million views), “Mr. Brightside” (39 million views) and “When You Were Young” (12 million views) have earned it more success and recognition on YouTube. Since people don’t really watch music videos on TV anymore and channels don’t play music videos (cough, MTV), artists generally rate the success and popularity of a song/music video by its number of hits on YouTube.

So, comparatively speaking, “A Dustland Fairytale” was a flop as a music video. But if we’re trying to look at which song fits its music video the best and is the most appropriate and thought-provoking, then The Killers have never made a better music video.

The video begins with an older, haggard-looking man who seems slightly confused, like he doesn’t know where to go or what to do. We soon realize that he’s filled with regret as he reminisces about his youth, and we discover that he has just been released from prison.

The video flashes back to a greaser-themed setting where two young men are fighting, the old man being one of them. Against his girlfriend’s pleas to stop the fight, the fight goes on and the man kills his opponent.

After his release from prison, the video depicts a changed man. We see him catching up with old friends, praying and enjoying the little things in life, like the taste of a good cup of coffee or the relaxation of a swimming pool.

The video closes with the man visiting the home of the girl he was fighting for in the past. She accepts him and they hug, revealing a ringless ring finger on her left hand.

This video is not groundbreaking, but it was nice to see a different side of The Killers with a deeper music video that revolved around an extreme attention to detail. What are your thoughts? Does it make you think, or does it make you fall asleep?

“The Jukebox Bars You Frequent”

The History
It’s blog post number three, and I just can’t help myself any longer. Today I’m posting about my all-time favorite band, Taking Back Sunday.

There are two ways I could approach this one. I could lie and say that I’ll be completely unbiased throughout this post, or I could just tell you the truth by saying that this band can do no wrong by me, so I’m probably not going to say too many bad things about it. I’ll choose the latter.

Taking Back Sunday has had a tumultuous career, dealing with an ever-changing lineup and the collapse of their genre, yet 10 years later the band is still making music and playing shows around the world. That’s not to say that there were no near breakups. There were many, many of those, but a strong fan base and the rising success of the band was enough to make the members deal with each other.

Adam Lazzara, John Nolan, Shaun Cooper, Eddie Reyes, Mark O'Connell. Image courtesy of wgrd.com.

Losing two initial members after the band’s first release, 2002’s Tell All Your Friends, Taking Back Sunday would endure two more lineup shifts before finally returning to their original lineup in the spring of 2010, a move that pleased many long-time fans. Taking Back Sunday is once again Adam Lazzara, John Nolan, Mark O’Connell, Eddie Reyes and Shaun Cooper.

“MakeDamnSure”
Today’s music video comes directly from the middle of the band’s career when the previously mentioned events were taking place, though the public wouldn’t know of those internal struggles for years to come. The 2006 release, Louder Now, is Taking Back Sunday’s best-selling album to date. Much of the album’s success can be attributed to the lead single, “MakeDamnSure,” and the fact that illegal music downloading hadn’t completely crippled the music industry at that time.

This video follows the standard Taking Back Sunday music video format. It is very performance-based, which is something the band likes to emphasize in music videos because it’s known for its loud, energetic live shows. You’ll also notice this in “A Decade Under The Influence,” “Sink Into Me” and “El Paso.” As I said in my first post, music videos are one of the few ways for artists to show people what they’re all about. It’s an opportunity for an artist to emphasize a certain element of their musical ability or creativity.

However, the music video isn’t solely about a performance. There are times when it cuts to scenes that present an underlying theme. We are witness to a lion attacking African wildlife, a bird eating a fish, a building being demolished, a snake in kill mode and a car wreck that meant certain death for the driver.

These are all very violent things that happen daily throughout the world. We can’t control these events that are a part of our lives. This video depicts the gruesome side of the world – alive one minute, gone the next.

But as the song reaches it’s bridge, things start to change. All of the violent events transform into peaceful, relaxing elements of life. We start to see things that bring happiness – family gatherings, ballet, children and the ocean, to name a few. The theme is that you can’t always stop the bad things from happening in the world, so you better MakeDamnSure you make the most out of the good things while you can.

Extras

  • The video features Lazzara’s trademark microphone swinging. It’s something he is known for in live shows. He was the bassist before being the lead vocalist, but when he switched to vocals he didn’t know what else to do with his hands.
  • The leaves that were blowing on the band in the video were real, and the band members had problems opening their eyes during the shoot.
  • The bassist (Matt Rubano) and guitarist/backing vocalist (Fred Mascherino) are no longer in the band.
  • Buy the band’s latest album or see them on tour.

“All These Demons, They Keep Me Up All Night”

With this week’s release of Blink-182′s first new studio album in eight years, could there be a better band to blog about?

After a hiatus that began in 2005 due to personal differences (Tom Delonge’s ego), the trio has reconciled and is back to making music and playing shows.The band’s latest effort, Neighborhoods, has elements of classic Blink but is the band’s most honest and mature release to date. Tom Delonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker each brought their own unique sound to the album, making it a sonic combination of their individual projects from the hiatus period.

As is the norm, a new album means new music videos. Blink 182 selected “Up All Night” as the first single off of Neighborhoods. Directed by Isaac Rentz, the music video shows that while the members of Blink-182 might be aging, they still understand what it’s like to be young and irresponsible.

The video is set in what initially appears to be a war zone.  It opens with a nearly desolate, debris-riddled neighborhood (coincidence?) containing flaming cars, graffiti and rebellious youth. The band itself takes back stage to the events in the video, as it’s not really involved in any of the on-scene action. Delonge, Hoppus and Barker are periodically seen playing in a dark house and on the inside of a ring of fire in the middle of the street.

As the video progresses, we are witness to a kid who’s well below the age of 16 driving a car through the littered streets before crashing into a fire hydrant, an adult bound in pink tape and food being used for everything but eating. By this point, it’s clear that the concept of the music video is what it would be like to live in the reality of the childhood fantasy of a world without parents.

As the video closes, the final images are of the rebellious kids separated into two groups that are attacking each other, completing the war zone atmosphere. An underlying concept of this video is that your desired fantasy life might not always be as good as you think it would be, so you should appreciate the things you do have in life.

Side note: Did you notice Delonge’s Macbeth shirt? That’s the clothing company he started.

There has always been two distinct sides to the Blink-182 music video coin. The band has incredibly humorous music videos such as, “First Date and “All The Small Things,” but it also has straightforward, serious videos like “I Miss You” and “Adam’s Song.” “Up All Night” definitely leans toward the latter group. Even though there’s mass chaos occurring, the trio displays a somber demeanor and the content in the video portrays a devastating world.

Already logging more than three million views, it’s clear that despite a long hiatus the band has returned and is still at the top of its game. I can’t speak for anybody else, but it just feels right having one of alternative rock music’s last remaining mega groups back to doing what it does best.

Be sure to check out Blink-182 in a city near you and enjoy “Up All Night.”

“…Every Superhero Needs His Theme Music…”

To put it simply, musicians are not actors. Well, there are some exceptions to that vague generality. Think of Jared Leto, the lead vocalist of 30 Seconds To Mars. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. He is that guy from Fight Club who got his face pounded in by a crazed Edward Norton. He’s been in a bunch of other movies, but that’s how I like to remember him.

Most musicians have never had any acting experience at all, yet so many of them make great, memorable music videos. You could give all the credit to a good producer or a creative video concept, but that’s rarely what makes a music video great.

Think about it this way. Musicians usually exude confidence and cockiness (see: Brandon Flowers, Tom Delonge and pretty much any rap artist), as they’re typically the center of attention wherever they go. It’s most noticeable in the way they carry themselves, their actions and above all, their lyrics.

That confidence almost always transfers through to an artist’s music videos. It’s their one outlet to show people what they’re all about, and it’s how their image is defined. That natural arrogance is what makes music videos intriguing to watch. Music videos are a way for listeners to put a face to the voice on the other side of the speakers, and they reveal another side of musicians, as people so rarely see them outside of live performances.

Take my boy, Kanye West, as an example. You either love him or you hate him. There’s little in between with this guy. If he isn’t the definition of cocky and arrogant, then I don’t know who is, but no matter what you think of him as a person, you can’t deny that his demeanor on and off stage is visible in his music videos. That’s what makes music videos worthwhile to the viewers, not the production quality or the men behind the cameras.

The video above is a mini promotional music video for West’s song “Power.” It was the lead single from his latest solo effort, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

While being a short video, it encompasses all of the elements of a great music video, and it serves its purpose. It’s creative, it’s weird and most importantly, West’s arrogance is at an all-time high, as he appears to be the ruler of the heavens. Oh, and to anybody who says music videos are dead, when was the last time one of your videos hit 25 million views?

But this video’s main purpose wasn’t to show people what Kanye West is all about. People know who he is. He’s one of the biggest rap artists on the planet right now. This video was about building buzz for the new album, which came out a couple months after the release of this video. Kanye West was backed by strong label support, which helped push the album. The teaser video created a buzz for the new record and resulted in nearly 500,000 copies of Fantasy being sold in its opening week with a debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.