Leave the CGI-heavy, mega-budget videos to the Justins and Janets of the world. OK Go have proven once again that all you need is a cheap digital videotape and some hot moves choreographed by your singer's sister to achieve viral superstardom.
The band was in the thankless position of following up the bare-bones "A Million Ways" clip — which has become the most downloaded music video in history (9 million times, according to the band's label) despite featuring nothing more than four goofy rock guys executing some intricate moves in singer Damian Kulash's backyard (see "OK Go Bust 'A Million' Moves In Web Phenomenon"). But they've delivered in spades, as their viral hit parade looks likely to continue with the dazzling "Here It Goes Again."
The bandmembers lined up eight rented treadmills in Kulash's sister's spare room in Orlando, Florida, on which they jump, spin, moonwalk, skip, duck and shuffle in a synchronized treadmill dance that must be seen to be believed. Actually, almost no one saw it, according to Kulash.
"We shot the video last year and hid it," the singer said (see "OK Go's Next Homemade Video Will 'Blow Your Brain Straight Out Of Your Head' "). "The first one went so crazy on the Internet that we knew if this one got out we'd be goners, so I kept the only master on my laptop. At some point I watched it again, and my initial reaction, deep in my bones, was that I knew I would never get to do that again. It's a weird movement, and it was so fun to do."
To find out what exactly the bandmembers will do for their VMAs performance on Thursday (see "Shakira, OK Go Announced As VMA Performers; 50 Cent, Axl, Kanye Join Presenters"), viewers will have to tune in and see. But suffice it to say that Kulash and his bandmates — Tim Nordwind (bass), Dan Konopka (drums) and Andy Ross (guitar, keyboards) — have been practicing all week at New York's famed Alvin Ailey dance studio, a situation Kulash said he could never have imagined.
"I was walking out of the studio [the other day] and I felt like I was in a movie," he said. "Never in my dreams could I have conceived of a future that would have me walking out of the fanciest dance studio in Manhattan thinking I'd had a good day of work. We're surrounded by these incredible dancers who've devoted their whole lives to dancing, and they're impressed." As a way of easing their nerves, the bandmembers have been cutting out photos of celebrities and pasting them up all over the studio.
In addition to leapfrogging into the YouTube all-time top 25 thanks to more than 4 million views since it was submitted on July 31, "Here It Goes Again" has won the group some pretty serious praise from Laurie Ann Gibson, choreographer for "Making the Band 3" group Danity Kane, who has also worked with Usher, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and Jessica Alba. "I think it's genius!" Gibson gushed after being tipped to the video by MTV News. "My goodness, it's fantastic. How creative! The choreography was brilliantly done. They gave me levels, they gave me transition, and how dare they use a treadmill to give me the illusion of movement!"
Gibson said the clip proves there's a dancer in everyone. She praised the video for its simplicity and for tailoring the dance to the bandmembers' strengths. But the real star, she said, is Kulash's sister, former professional ballroom dancer Trish Sie. "She needs to find me on my MySpace page right away so I can give her an official Laurie Ann shout-out," Gibson said. Sie fronts Snark-a-Snoops, a touring music-and-dance troupe similar to the toddler favorites the Wiggles.
Like "A Million Ways," the shoot for "Here It Goes Again" was a single-shot affair, which meant the band had to perform the routine in its entirety nearly 20 times to get a clean take. Kulash cops to some serious bumps and bruises during the three or four days of practice that preceded the shoot, but he assures us that no hospitalization was required for any of the injuries. "That ice-skating move," he said of a maneuver in which the members look as if they're gliding side to side across icy treadmills, "that's really fun and it's as fluid as it looks. But if you take it with the wrong foot, you get sucked up into the middle of the thing and it chews you up."
Though they're wary of becoming that "goofy dancing band," the new video has given the band's nearly year-old Oh No album a sales boost, which means they'll be hitting the road again for another round of U.S. and world dates through the end of the year. That puts off the recording of their next album until the spring. Unless ...
"We might do one more video," Kulash said. "I have a good idea. It's a hard decision because there's a real danger of us becoming a novelty band, but we have to weigh it against it just being an awesome thing to do."
For everything we've got on the 2006 VMAs, vma.mtv.com.