The Rock Handbook is clear on this. Groups have to build a local following before attempting to conquer the world. Of course, it helps when the hometown is the third largest market in the U.S. Singer Damian Kulash (great name), guitarist Andrew Duncan, bassist Tim Norwind and drummer Dan Konopka (another great name) joined forces in '98 and soon dominated the Windy City scene.
Before Kulash migrated from D.C., the other three band members were in something called Stanley's Joyful Noise (not a great name). Fortunately, everyone survived that misadventure.
OK Go released a series of CD singles that sold well enough to get them signed by Capitol Records in '01. But their self-titled debut failed to generate much excitement.
When a band signs with a major label they are supposed to become wildly successful. That's why they do it. But sometimes those big promotional dollars just don't do the trick. Misspent? Squandered? Bad Choices? Always easy to blame the label. Or maybe the world had one too many power-pop bands.
Those questions got set aside when OK Go's melodic follow-up, "Oh No," was released in '05. It was a more serious, and much better received, set. A breakthrough video plus a captivating performance at the MTV Video Music Awards were among the reasons.
At the '06 Grammys, the group and choreographer/director Trish Sie took home the "Best Short-Form Music Video" award for "Here It Goes Again." The viral video of the band doing a clever production number on treadmills garnered over 48-million YouTube views, making it one of the most watched clips on the website. "It has always been our position that the reason you wind up in a Rock band is you want to make stuff," said Kulash sometime later. "You want to do creative things for a living."
OK Go also contributed to the '08 charity EP "You're Not Alone," which benefited people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The band's popularity led to a couple of their songs, namely "Do What You Want" and "Here It Goes Again," being used in various video games. The group also appeared in the comedy I Love You Man as a wedding band (with main characters Paul Rudd and Jason Segel). They then landed the track, "Shooting The Moon" on the "Twilight: New Moon soundtrack."
Originally "The Influence Of The Blue Ray Of The Sunlight And Of The Blue Color Of The Sky," the title of OK Go's third album was significantly shortened to "Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky." According to a band release the songs on the '10 effort were the "danciest, most anthemic, most heartbroken, and honest songs" of their career.
OK Go delved deeper into videos developing a marketing plan that included partnerships with State Farm Insurance, Range Rover, Google Chrome and Jose Cuervo. The State Farm music video titled "This Too Shall Pass" featured the group in paint stained overalls/jumpsuits around a large Rube Goldberg type machine. The video garnered over 40 million views. The Jose Cuervo clip centered around a pop-up show (riding in a Jose Cuervo truck with a side panel curtain). They performed "I Want You So Bad."
'12 saw a collection of rare songs, B-sides and covers (The Beatles, Pixies, They Might Be Giants and The Kinks) called "Twelve Days of OK Go." A few months later, they announced the launch of the Twelve Months of OK Go, which offered free B-sides and covers, one song per month, through the band's email list and web store.
The only thing missing from all this activity was a new album. OK Go set out to remedy that situation by releasing their fourth studio set, "Hungry Ghosts" in October '14.
The album, containing lead single "The Writing's On The Wall," was available for pre-order on the direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic. Naturally, the video for the single reached over one million views within a day.
OK Go got in an "anti-Trump" dig when they performed a cover of Morrissey's "Interesting Drug" on The Late Late Show With James Corden. "There are some bad people on the rise," sang Kulash. "They're saving their own skins by/Ruining other people's lives." Donald Trump's presidential inauguration was two days later.
2002 OK Go
2005 Oh No
2010 Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
2014 Hungry Ghosts
OK Go's is hardly groundbreaking but they kick with little affectation or pretension and that makes for good listening. They trade on catchy songs with mass appeal that serve as more than mere accompaniment to their videos.