Most people know Ok Go for their music videos. When the band showed up on the Sasquatch! Music Festival lineup a couple years ago, I couldn’t contain my excitement, but a friend contested with (paraphrased) “but how great could their live show be when they can’t implement their video gimmickry?” I then went on to explain that, um, Ok Go is first and foremost about the music, and anyone who doesn’t realize that needs to listen to them.
It wasn’t until later I began listening to the band that I saw one of their videos, the treadmill one. “Here It Goes Again” is a fine song, but nowhere near Ok Go’s best work. So, understandably, people were more fixated on the extremely interesting and clever choreography. The band certainly has a knack for that, and it should be admired.
However, Ok Go’s self-titled debut album (2002) was a much better introduction. “Hello My Treacherous Friends” was daring and catchy, and “1000 Miles Per Hour” is like the Moody Blues meets Fountains of Wayne, which works out beautifully. The 2005 EP preceding Oh No, Ok Go’s second album, further won me over with a cover of one of my all-time favorite songs, “The Lovecats” by the Cure.
Ok Go’s rendition remains fairly faithful to the original, but delivers it in a smoother package. Drums, bass, keys, guitar and vocals all sound richer. Elementally speaking, the original is more metallic while the cover has a more woody quality. But they really master the Cure’s essence with the recording, which solidified Ok Go’s place in my heart.
The band released the “Extra Nice Edition” of their third album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (2010) last November, which offered a ton of remixes and alternate versions of songs from the album, as well as a few other treats. One of these was a cover of the Pixies’ “Gigantic.”
Again, Ok Go refines the edges of the rock classic, but stays mostly true to its original style. Damian Kulash coos “Hey Paul, hey Paul, hey Paul, let’s have a ball” with psychedelic flair and is a softer substitute for Kim Deal on the repetition of “a big, big love.”
What’s wonderful about Ok Go’s cover efforts is they sound distinctively like Ok Go while still honoring the integrity of those they emulate. They definitely make it worth it to shell out for the versions of their albums with bonus tracks. Never a disappointment; always a pleasure.