OK Go – the “Needing / Getting” Music Video

OK Go – the “Needing / Getting” Music Video

making OK GO video

If there’s any one band known for its music videos it’s OK Go.

The LA-based quartet began making indie rock in the early 2000′s only to have their career explode following the release of the music video “Here it Goes Again”, which featured the band performing a choreographed dance number on treadmills. Within six days of being posted on You Tube, the video had one million views, and it catalyzed a clever, over-the-top video style the band has continued to cultivate ever since.


“Needing Getting” was written by OK Go band members Damian Kulash and Tim Nordwind, and was originally released as the fourth track of their 2010 album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky.

The lyrics reflect a person who wishes to be in a relationship with someone who is not interested and expresses the foolishness of waiting around for that person to like you back.

For the Needing Getting music video a Chevrolet Sonic car was outfitted with numerous pneumatic arms and devices, is driven through a specially-designed rally car course by the band’s lead singer Damian Kulash, with the other band members as passengers.

During the course, the arms strike at various musical instruments ( over 1,000 ) aligned on the sides of the Los Angeles dessert 2 mile course, including pianos, guitars, glass jars, and plastic drums; the arrangement and tuning of these instruments create the melody of the song as the car drives by them.


The video premiered on MTV on February 5, 2012 with an edited version shown during Super Bowl XLVI the same day. The video, uploaded to YouTube after airing during the Super Bowl, received 5 million views within the day, and surpassed 13 million views in under two weeks.

The Needing Getting music video was directed by Brian L. Perkins, who had previously directed the band’s Marching Band version of the “This Too Shall Pass” music video.

The idea for the video was inspired by the Rube Goldberg video version of  “This Too Shall Pass”; in that video, some of the props of the Rube Goldberg machine had played a melody in time with the music.

Kulash wanted to extend this idea, making the props in the video be the source of the music during the recording; he explained “I like the idea of doing videos that are live recordings. It helps break down the idea that these are all distinct forms of art.”

Initially, Kulash had the idea of driving a car on an oval racetrack with banked turns, with the action of running the car over the instruments making the music, but in the light of the aspiration to have a one-take run, this was deemed too difficult.

The concept of a rally car course bore out from this idea, using the various stages of the course to map to certain stanzas of the song.

Director: Brian L. Perkins & Damian Kulash, Jr.
Director of Photography: Yon Thomas
Editor: Doug Walker
Producer: Luke Ricci



okgo-needing getting

Creating the world’s first musical racetrack and world’s first song performed and recorded by a car took months of careful planning to create the awe-inspiring video, which required the band to break down each part of the song, record each segment, and then piece and mix the song back together.

If it sounds time-consuming that’s because it was.

The video took 4 months of preparation and 4 days of shooting and recording.

“We were out in the desert until midnight every day. I don’t even remember having a life outside of that. It was such a surreal world. Everyone who came out to help for a day or two was like ‘I can’t believe you built such an insane wonderland in the desert.”

Unlike most celebrity endorsements borne of corporate marketing campaigns or music videos featuring blatantly obvious product placement the car-performance concept came to Kulash before Chevy ever entered the picture.

“It was an idea I had about a year ago. Our co-director, Brian L. Perkins — he’s a old friend of mine, he was in my college band, and he’s directed some of our other videos — works for an agency that works with Chevy. I told him if you ever have a car company crazy enough to try something this awesome, then I have this idea. Sure enough, Chevy thought it was a great idea and they came on board and he got to direct it with us.”

Though Chevrolet provided between $500,000 and $1 million for the production of the video, they did not make any production demands on the band outside of limiting what modifications could be performed on the cars themselves; any further involvement or demands, according to Mayer, would have likely altered the impact of the video.

According to Forbes magazine noted that this was not the first corporate sponsorship by OK Go, having had the creation of the videos for “This Too Shall Pass” (Rube Goldberg version) and “Last Leaf” sponsored by State Farm Insurance and Samsung, respectively.

Chevy’s contributions included providing 2 Sonics, including the modifications to add extender bars and pneumatics, warehouse space for the band and an acoustic engineer to work out what would make suitable instruments and how they could be played by the car over the course of two months, and sending Kulash to a three-day stunt driving school to avoid having to use stunt doubles during filming.

The video was filmed in a 2-mile long course on a private ranch property between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert over a four-day period.

The course as constructed included more than 1,100 homemade instruments and real instruments including 55 upright pianos and 288 electric guitars connected to 66 amps.

The band developed a computer program that would dictate the speed that Kulash had to drive the car through the course to match the rhythm of the song; the speeds varied between 17 and 35 miles per hour on various sections of the course.

This was aided with the use of a metronome within the car, and a series of marked beanbags that dropped as he drove through the course.

Multiple takes were required to perfect the run; they would often have to replace the extender arms as they broke off from over use.

They also suffered from high Santa Ana winds that would tip over the instruments such as the pianos; though they completed several takes, the band recognized they would likely need to post-edit the various shots to make the complete final video.

“We started by writing out a list of all of the different ways sounds are made and instruments work and figuring out which instruments and objects could make the sounds needed to accurately reproduce the song. We spent a month in warehouse outside of L.A. with Noah Vawter from MIT and our friend Paul Rudolph from a band called Glank — all of their instruments are from junkyards.

So we spent months trying to figure out what sorts of instruments you could play at 40mph and how to bring them to the desert. We bought the cheapest pianos we could find from thrift stores. I had to tune 58 pianos because I wasn’t sure how many we needed. I spent three days tuning those pianos.”

Each piano had the lowest octaves tuned to the same note so that they’d play the right note no matter where they were struck

“Then we planned the course and figured out the parts that needed to be repeated. The chorus is basically looped since that appears three times. We spent a lot of time walking out the track with a measuring tape because we had to know how long something is and how fast we’d be going.

Originally we thought we’d be doing 25mphs, and when we did camera tests it looked too slow. I also started taking stunt driving lessons by the Crowder family who are professional Hollywood stunt drivers — they drove in movies like “The Fast And The Furious.”

It was really really really fun, and I am now not allowed in cars with handbrakes because it’s so tempting. But I realized I could do between 25 and 40 throughout the course.

Then we spent about a month building in the desert with a construction team and then four days of shooting.

When we were shooting, we focused on playing each section of the track. We ran it in full passes but recorded each part on its own to focus on getting each part exactly right. When we were done we had 189 tracks we had to figure out how to mix together back into the song.”

Lyrics to Needing/Getting :

I’ve been waiting for months
Waiting for years
Waiting for you to change
Aw, but there ain’t much that’s dumber
There ain’t much that’s dumber
Than pinning your hopes on a change in another
And I, yeah, I still need you, but what good’s that gonna do?
Needing is one thing and getting, getting is another
So I been sitting around
Wasting my time
Wondering what you been doing
Aw, and it ain’t real forgiving
It ain’t real forgiving
Sitting here picturing someone else living
And I, yeah, I still need you, but what good’s that gonna do?
Needing is one thing and getting, getting is another
I’ve been hoping for months
Hoping for years
Hoping I might forget
Aw, but it don’t get much dumber
It don’t get much dumber
Than trying to forget a girl when you love her
And I, yeah, I still need you, but what good’s that gonna do?
Oh, needing is one thing and getting, getting is another
Why not now?
Why not me?
Why not me?
Why not now?
Why not me?
Why not me?


OKGo Saatchi

For their next music video OK Go want you to come up with something.

Currently recording their new album, OK Go have partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi for a music video challenge  – whereby emerging filmmakers are encouraged to create a music video for “I’m Not Through,” a brand new song from the band’s forthcoming fourth album.

okgo-im not through

TheOK Go Saatchi & Saatchi Music Video Challenge 2013 is in partnership with global creative platform Talenthouse, and renowned music video curators BUG, and is the third in a series of successful Saatchi & Saatchi competitions aimed at giving up-and-coming filmmakers the opportunity to create a video for a high profile musician or band.

A judging panel – headed up Damian Kulash and comprising members of the Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Creative Board and BUG – will select 10 finalists from all eligible submissions received.

The Grand Prize Winner, who will be chosen from the 10 finalists, will be invited to spend a full week at Cannes Lions in June 2013.

The grand prize winner will have their work shown as part of the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes, featured on Talenthouse and OK Go’s official sites, and it could even be used as the official music video for the song pending the band’s approval.

There will also be a People’s Choice Winner, based on a public vote.

Competition closes on Thursday 7th May

Results will be announced on the Talenthouse website at the end of May.

Damian asks that people “make a good video… a boundary pushing video.”

“Clearly, making videos is a pretty big part of our lives, but while we’re in the studio finishing our new record, our heads are exclusively focused on the songs,” Kulsah said. “So, it feels right to let other people into the playroom while we’re not using it. It’s a good way to encourage people to go forth and make. A great idea is a great idea. You don’t need us standing in front of your camera to make a great video.”

“I think I’d pick up on the sense of playfulness and the dedication to absurdity. The pauses for the saucy triangle, the disco strings, the distorted party bass in the choruses, that ludicrous guitar solo — I hope they mean the same thing to other people as they do to me: a kind of shameless commitment to fun.”

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