Geek Glee: A drone, Uni-Cubs, and a cast of 2,214 Japanese school girls

OK Go's latest video, “I Won't Let You Down,” is a synchronized blend of technology, cinematography, and thousands of Japanese school girls. Who could resist? 

It's official. The music group OK Go has graduated from Rube Goldberg machines to their own brand of geek Glee.

The group's latest music video, “I Won't Let You Down,” employs a fleet of Honda's sleek, Uni-Cub self-balancing cycles, a platoon of Japanese school girl dancers, and a whole lot of colorful parasols.

It's a spell-binding blend of technology, cinematography, and, well, synchronized fun.

The song in the video is from the band’s new album Hungry Ghosts, out now in North America on iTunes: 

In this video the four band members ride white, chrome detailed, personal transportation devices that look like someone decided to strip-down a Segway, shrinking it to a single wheel with a tail for balance.

At the outset of the video it’s tempting to think this will be nothing more than four guys wheeling in circles in a more sophisticated version of the 1960s TV boy band The Monkees, who made famous a similar music video stunt on tricycles. However this video scene quickly expands to fit the expectation of an over-the-top OK Go video scenario.

OK Go gained notoriety thanks to its elaborate videos that put everyday items to unusual uses. In “Here it goes again” treadmills become dance partners. 

In the video “This too shall pass” everything from soccer balls to paint cans are woven into spectacularly over-engineered devices - ala Rube Goldberg. .

Now the band has graduated to a presentation using new technology in the form of these unicyle-like Segwayesque Hondas are controlled by body shift. 

However, as with previous OK Go productions, the power to engage the audience comes not from the simple use of new technology, but by the over-the-top proliferation of the devices.

In this case, a myriad of Japanese school girls ride in synchronized drill team fashion holding colored parasols in order to eventually form a massive pixelated GameBoy screen style message board display. The field was 41 school girls down by 54 girls wide: 2,214 Japanese school girls?

All this is thanks to Creative Director Morihiro Harano, Art Director Jun Nishida,Director: Kazuaki Seki and Damian Kulash, Jr. and Choreographer furitsukekagyou air:man.

As if thousands of school girls isn’t enough the video itself is shot using another Honda invention, “a custom ‘multi-copter camera’ from Honda that was, apparently, developed especially for the project,” according to Gizmodo.  Basically, a sophisticated drone. 

The video is the second release by a fringe artist that relies heavily on a partnership with a major tech company for it’s gravitas.

Back on August 14 violinist Lindsey Stirling released her “Master of Tides” video in cooperation with UE BOOM, a subsidiary of the tech company Logitech, to introduce both the song and the wireless Bluetooth speaker technology. 

Both OK Go and Stirling’s work appear to have benefitted from the new technology, and perhaps the deep pockets of the apparent sponsors, without losing their artistic integrity.

While this may signal an emerging trend of musicians pairing with big sponsors whose products become the de facto co-stars of the videos, for now the result appears to be a happy marriage of technology and the arts.

In this case Honda’s cycle seems to serve well as a third wheel.

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