Weezer’s New Music Video is a Great Ad or a Sharp Critique of Google Assistant and Pixel Smartphones
Google Assistant joins Weezer unofficially in the new music video for “All My Favorite Songs,” a track from the soon-to-be-released “OK Human,” album. Rivers Cuomo activates the voice assistant on a Pixel 5 with the wake word so close to the album title, asking it to record a video and kicking off the song that could be construed as one of the best product placements ever or an unsubtle attack on screentime and Google devices in particular.
OK Google, Not OK Human
Pixel 5 phones are all over the music video, which tells the story of a young man and woman running from smartphones and their universal use, only to face a tragic defeat and separation while Weezer sings about how all their favorite things are objectively depressing. Two minutes into the video you see everyone in a park staring at their screen, while the couple steals one of the phones from an older man and heads to whatever space Weezer is playing in. The music video ends on a down-note, as might be expected from the lyrics and song title. The young woman and every member of Weezer succumb to the lure of the Pixel 5’s high-resolution screen, while her erstwhile boyfriend heads home and appears to reject the idea of communicating with her through social media.
The Google logo is front and center on the smartphones the whole time they are around, except the two instances that use a feature unmentioned in the Pixel 5 specs and magically turn them into teleporting doorways. Though the song has little to do with tech, the rejection of its intrusive presence is a major theme. The same tension defines the album’s name and its background, as Weezer explained on Twitter:
“OK Human was made at a time when humans-playing-instruments was a thing of the past. All we could do is look back on ancient times when humans really mattered and when the dark tech-takeover fantasy,” Weezer wrote. “We used our instruments to connect to the 1960’s and 1970’s and, with the orchestra, back to the 18th and 19th centuries. We had no click track or loops or hi-tech sounds. Not even an electric guitar.”
The negative portrayal of spending too much time on a smartphone is in stark contrast to the easy use of cool video technology seen in the video. Whether Google paid Weezer to make the music video with its phone isn’t clear. No company affiliated with Google is listed in the credits, but it’s not hard to picture marketing executives pitching the idea to Cuomo and his bandmates. If Google did pay for the music video, they are being way more subtle than when they made a parody of the Nickelback song “Broken Glass” to promote Gooogle Photos.
It would also add a new layer to the competitive advertising Amazon and Apple do with Alexa and Siri, respectively. Just last month, Apple launched an ad with Tierra Whack for the HomePod Mini, while Amazon has now convinced popular vocal artists like Katy Perry to exclusively announce new music on Alexa-enabled smart speakers. Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella pointed out that if it is a silently paid promotion, it might be a genuine shakeup of how the voice assistants are regarded culturally.
“It’s really interesting. Google was losing the culture angle to Alexa early on, but this seems so organic that it’s actually better than the highly produced stuff from Amazon,” Kinsella said. “It’s a mildly negative message but still, no one is going to give up their phone and they might be more inclined to try a Pixel given that the band uses them.”