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OK Go Plays Music By Running a Chevy Into, Over Things in Super Bowl Ad

Thus far we have seen OK Go dance on treadmills, sing with dogs, perform with a camouflage marching band, and execute a song with a massive Rube Goldberg device. However, last night’s Super Bowl ad may have topped them all for complexity, when the band used a specially modified Chevy Sonic to perform their song “Needing/Getting.” It involves actuated mechanical arms, air-fed melodicas, a thousand wrecked instruments, and some pretty impressive stunt driving on the part of frontman Damian Kulash. Trust me, you need to see this.

Car and Driver has a revealing look at how the video was made. From C&D:

To hit the marks on time and effectively “play” the song, one of the band members wrote a computer program to convert musical bars into miles per hour. The speeds were not high: about 35 mph during the chorus and 17 to 22 mph on other sections of the track. But Kulash wasn’t watching his speedometer as he drove. He had a visual downbeat reference in dropped beanbags marked with flags, plus a metronome in the car.

Not surprisingly, the band was intimately involved in arranging the music, and experimenting with different techniques to “play” the song, along with some help from an MIT accoustical engineer. While it’s easy to dismiss this kind of video as mere pandering to sell a few cars, it’s important to note that some of OK Go’s other ads have been similarly underwritten — a necessity given their complexity. What’s more, it seems like the band maintained an enormous degree of creative control throughout the design and execution of the video.

And if you don’t think that the band was really “playing” those instruments, think again. Not only did Kulash have to attend a stunt driving school, the rest of the band is hard at work inside the Sonic, manipulating the levers that control the mechanical arms, and even playing melodicas fed by oncoming air. In case you’re curious, Car and Driver put together this breakdown of the entire song, in its (Chevy) Sonic glory.

(via Car and Driver)

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