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Radiohead’s 10 Best Music Videos

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

In the past week Radiohead fans have been given plenty of reason to celebrate—if unexpected new Radiohead isn’t enough reason love life, I don’t know what is—but it’s what accompanied the release of The King of Limbs that has given the entire populace of the Internet reason to celebrate: a new meme. The dark, minimalist music video for Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” finds Thom Yorke caught somewhere between rave and seizure, but the visuals took on new life once mashed with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” Since then, “Lotus Flower” has been spliced with everything from “The Hampster Dance” to Can’t Buy Me Love. But just how widespread is Dancin’ Thom? Mashable calls it the new “Sad Keanu”: that’s how widespread it is. With the internet once again abuzz about Yorke’s all-around goofiness, it stands to reason that it wouldn’t hurt to take a look back at some of Radiohead’s finer music video moments. Truth be told, there are a lot to choose from. Before heading off to search for more Dancing Thom clips, here are ten of Radiohead’s finest music videos.

#10) “No Surprises” (1998)

Directed by Grant Gee, “No Surprises” takes a simple premise and turns it into something fascinating. As Thom Yorke’s face is seen in an astronaut’s helmet, the lyrics to the song are creatively shown scrolling in reverse across the reflection from the dome. Interestingly, while Yorke appears visibly aggravated following the water sequence, the shot depicting his head being immersed was filmed in high speed and played back in slow motion to make it appear as though he was under water far longer than he actually was.

#9) “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors and Like Spinning Plates” (2002)

Directed by “moving image” artist Johnny Hardstaff, “Spinning Plates” lends Radiohead the first of two connections to Ridley Scott on this list (the second in a moment) as the director has since gone on to a career creating innovative commercials for such brands as Sony and Toshiba, all the while represented by RSA (Ridley Scott Associates).

#8) “Fake Plastic Trees” (1995)

For what would become one of the band’s most iconic music videos, director Jake Scott actually ended up staying far clear of filming in an actual supermarket. Instead, the director (and son of Ridley Scott) ended up shooting on location at Los Angeles’ Van Nuys airport, “where the end of Casablanca was filmed.”

#7) “Karma Police” (1997)

“Karma Police” was one of the efforts (the other being Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”) which led to director Jonathan Glazer being awarded MTV’s Director of the Year in 1997. The concept of the clip, which features Thom Yorke and Hungarian actor Lajos Kovács, was originally pitched to Marilyn Manson, who vehemently passed on the idea.

#6) “All I Need” (2008)

In discussing “All I Need” with MTV in 2008, Thom Yorke explained, “They’ve produced a video of two parallel stories running, one of a little boy in the West and one of a little boy in a sweatshop in the East, and the boy [in the West] ends up buying the shoes from the sweatshop. It’s actually quite powerful.” He continued, “It’s the sort of images I have in my head anyway. Sometimes when you’re walking down High Street and you’re looking at the incredibly cheap [sneakers], you sort of think, ‘Hmmm, well how did they manage to make that so cheaply?’ It sort of reminds me of one of my preoccupations, so I’m touched that the music goes with that. I think it’s great.” Filmed in Australia by Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale and director Steve Rogers, “All I Need” was released with the intent to raise awareness of those “forced, defrauded or coerced into various forms of labor or prostitution,” and was “used to promote an anti-human trafficking campaign in Asia by MTV EXIT.”

#5) “Knives Out” (2001)

While bearing similarities of one of Michel Gondry’s later works—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—”Knives Out” was released some three years before the acclaimed film, further adding to the mystique of the director. Not only is it a beautifully shot piece, but the entire video was filmed in a single take; quite the feat considering the elaborate nature of its scenes. Most recently Gondry directed the Seth Rogan-starring action comedy The Green Hornet.

#4) “Paranoid Android” (1997)

A creation of Swedish director, illustrator and animator Magnus Carlsson, “Paranoid Android” is a direct extension of the animated series Robin, using not only the same style in creating the video, but recycling some of the characters themselves. The video caused a bit of a stir and was censored in the U.S. for its use of nudity, to which guitarist Jonny Greenwood remarked, “We would’ve understood if they had a problem with some guy chopping his arms and legs off, but I mean, a woman’s breasts! And mermaids as well! It’s fucked up.”

#3) “Just” (1995)

“Just” was directed by Jamie Thraves, who would later head such videos as Blind Melon’s “Toes Across the Floor,” Blur’s “Charmless Man” & the Verve’s “Lucky Man.”

#2) “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” (1996)

In speaking with Indie Wire in 2001, director Jonathan Glazer spoke of “Street Spirit,” explaining the importance of the music video. “That was definitely a turning point in my own work. I knew when I finished that, because they found their own voices as an artist, at that point, I felt like I got close to whatever mine was, and I felt confident that I could do things that emoted, that had some kind of poetic as well as prosaic value. That for me was a key moment.” The video itself was recorded over two nights in the desert outside of Los Angeles.

#1) “House of Cards” (2008)

Directed by James Frost, “House of Cards” utilized 3D plotting techniques in the creation of the video’s visualizations. From Wikipedia: “In lieu of traditional cameras, the video is made with lidar technology which detects the proximity of objects from the sensor. This gives the video a grainy and grid-like appearance. Sheets of acrylic glass and mirrors are passed in front of the lasers to create scenes in which the image appears distorted, partially disappears, or begins to disintegrate as if being carried by wind.”

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]