How To Write A Concept Music Video

22.5.2017 by Sam Meyers

The mid 2000s were a time of truly fantastic pop-punk music and the emergence of the modern Indie movement. In August 2005, we were also blessed with a music video by an American band named ‘OK Go’ and it was the beginning of something beautiful. 

This video was for a song called ‘A Million Ways’. It consisted of the 4 band members dancing in perfect synchrony with no hint of irony. Simple, comical and perfectly precise! The video, it is claimed, was made at a cost of just $25 to film and produce. The video was choreographed and entertaining, and it instantly became a cult classic. It did the rounds of school kids in the UK and the band established themselves as a regular fixture on the MTV charts. 

Their true explosion though was a upon the release of their video for “Here It Goes Again”. Often remembered for its ‘Treadmill Choreography’, the song went viral and branded OK Go’s approach to music videos as a one-way ride to success for years to come. Executing flawless shapes whilst navigating their bodies through the frames of live treadmills and manoeuvring themselves amongst the perilous running treads, OK Go rocketed to stratospheric levels of fame with a current Youtube views count of over 35,000,000 for this one music video. This, it appears, was the moment that they never looked back. ‘Concept videos’ were the future.

Now, although the band produce good pop/rock tracks it is key to note at this point that no song by the band is specifically technical; you won’t hear any bone shattering guitar solos and their voices won’t put to shame any of history’s best known or remembered vocalists. However their fame and success clearly indicates that they have stumbled upon a winning formula.

I feel that OK Go approach their music and video production in a similar fashion to a film producer. There aim is to make a video which is so cinematic that the music acts much more as a score, and it is the video which takes the main brunt of responsibility to pull in the audience. Every one of the band’s videos are watchable time and time again for a few reasons: 

Firstly, the videos are epic. I mean this in the true sense of the word. You get the feeling when watching that in that each and every video the band and production team began with an end point which was completely audacious, edging on scandalously genius and monumental. Then they have the more intricate job of de-constructing the video, splitting the end point in to as many complicated avenues as possible. 

Secondly, in total juxtaposition to the epic side of their videos, the detail within each concept is very intricate. It is evident each and every time that weeks or months of work has gone in to create what we are watching. Whether it is the perfect measurement of dripping water into an intricate system to set off a chain reaction or something as huge as orchestrating a song entirely out of sounds produced by driving a instrument-ified car through a track in the desert lined with drums, cymbals and pianos. The level of thought which goes in to their videos is unparalleled and I personally have never seen a more enticing set of videos time and time again. 

Thirdly, They are efficient. Obviously not afraid of choreography, the band is able every time to be where they should be, when they should be and make a show of it. This is something which is difficult to learn (not that it can’t be learned); the men are natural showmen and they are able to turn each new song release into a large-scale event.

Of course I cannot claim that these are the complete and conclusive ingredients, but these are certainly three characteristics which are showcased in all videos released by the band and the results are always spectacular. 

So how can we use this formula ourselves? Most importantly of course is the ingredient which makes it all stick: the ‘Concept’. The concept is the heart of the music video and the difference between an empty messaged decoration for a song release and a true piece of artwork. The aim is that the video will be watched in high anticipation, much like a film, as we are all waiting to see how it will play out. Do note that this is in high contrast to the mentality of most music videos which simply act as a backdrop to the song, often with incomplete storylines or gaps missing, ultimately producing a less than memorable experience. Often artists will use nudity or the shock factor to mask the emptiness of their videos; to me it is a shame that more people can not be enticed to produce more videos as enjoyable to watch as those by OK Go.

OK Go are not the only band to have implemented the idea of building a video from a great concept. Another great example is a song by the band Mutemath; they decided that an interesting avenue to pursue would be to shoot their video for ‘Typical’ completely in reverse. This meant that they had to learn to play their parts backward, drums included as well as the vocal section meaning that the singer had to learn to sing the whole song phonetically backwards in order for it to line up with the sound. Safe to say it makes for really quite impressive viewing and is a true demonstration of how musicians suffer for their art! Check it out below:

If you can think of any other examples of videos which are based on a great concept then we want to hear about it! Drop us a message in the comments section and if you have enjoyed the article, please don’t forget to share it.