There's often a misdirected nostalgia for the days when MTV actually played music videos. But those who mourn the loss of Total Request Live often forget: it's pretty boring to watch most music videos. But one thing that is missing from the loss of music on MTV is the national discussion about what music videos are cool. No one is watching the same videos anymore, so there's no talk about the new dances, costumes, or sets like there was back in the day when Missy Elliott released her latest on TRL. That's why it's so refreshing to see Ok Go's music video for "Writing's on the Wall." The band that started out making videos of choreographed dances in their backyard and gained their fame leveling up with a choreographed dance on treadmills understands the nearly lost art form.
They realize that music videos are a visual exploration and spectacle. The band is involved in their videos from start to finish, and uses the opportunity to make a visual spectacle that always prioritizes wonder over shock value. They make audiences ask questions about just how they do it.
And their newest video continues to live up to the band's reputation. Their video for "The Writing's on the Wall" is all about the art of perspective, influenced by artists like Felice Varini and Dan Tobin-Smith. It uses bright colors and different perspectives to trick the eye into thinking that things are not what they seem. And like all good music videos, it's an interpretation of the song itself, an ode to a doomed relationship where two people keep seeing things in different ways.
The video has already gone more or less viral, and thus restored the national conversation of music videos from days gone by. Ok Go clearly knows how to make a music video that both amazes and challenges viewers. The question is, does anyone else? Because before we have a TRL for the digital age, we need music videos that deserve being talked about.