don't you tell me how i feel.

guest post: dance, little alien man by don't you tell me how i feel.
February 25, 2011, 1:13 pm
Filed under: guest post, Shit I love, videoz

In lieu of Flashback Friday, this week we bring you a review of the new Radiohead video/album, courtesy of our awesome guest poster jojo.

Unlike V, I COULD NOT live without five minutes of Thom Yorke’s interpretive dancing. In fact, my life has been a gyp up until I saw this video last week. I’ve probably watched it 100 times now, Thom Yorke’s form of air guitar, which is more joyful, spastic, beautiful and awkward than any air guitar-like moment ever caught on film, at least in my mind.

I preface this post with an admission: I have probably lost any sort of objectivity when it comes to Radiohead. We’ve been together too long, so I accept, even invite, much or Yorke’s weirdness, and I am surely a more forgiving ear for Radiohead’s music. Shit, I might be the only person on the planet who liked Amnesiac.

That said, the “Lotus Flower” video seems to me an incredibly fresh addition to the Radiohead oeuvre.

Let’s talk, first of all, about the clapping. Radiohead is brain music: I knew a college professor of music composition who devoted whole lectures to the symphonic layering of their music. “Lotus Flower,” and much of The King of Limbs, is rhythmically mesmerizing. So the clapping, which falls alternatively on down and up beats, both grounds the song and disorients the listener. It’s the hook. Your brain tries to figure it out, so you listen more closely.

In the first minute of the video, Yorke, cast in shadow in black and white film, appears to be dancing out each layer of the music as a form of prologue. He stretches, grows and shakes.

The spotlight finally lights up his ragged little face, and Yorke takes us on a little private tour of his insane dance moves, which include using his black bowler hat — head inside — as a steering wheel, tripping around Charlie Chaplin style and, as if in meditation, flashing us the international yogic sign for the unfolding lotus flower, blossoming from the heart.

It feels at once earnest and self-mocking, like he’s giving us permission to lose ourselves in music, no matter how ridiculous it might look to others. This is bliss, unadulterated in black and white.

I also love how the video at times zooms in on Yorke’s asymmetrical, scruffy face at the very points his otherworldly voice reaches high registers. The juxtaposition of his sort of homely face and his gorgeous voice, it’s like coming to know him in a very private and complete way. This is a man who underwent multiple surgeries as a child to try to repair his paralyzed eye. His tilted look is now iconic, but that doesn’t make it beautiful. He’s always known a certain ugliness, a frailness. He’s also come to know the ugly side of his own ego and fame, his “fast ballooning head,” as it were.

What is he trying to show us here? What doesn’t change, by injury, age or fame. As corny as it may sound, Yorke is telling you to “listen to your heart.”

There doesn’t seem to be any pretense in this video. Yorke isn’t making a political statement; he’s not trying to wow us with the intensity or intelligence of his music. He’s putting it out there pretty plainly, and I for one, am pretty damn impressed.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

aaah! just saw it last week. LOVE Thom’s erratic dancing.

Comment by Rachael

“his ragged little face?”


Comment by Lehtola

[…] lot has been made of Thom Yorke’s latest YouTube jaw-dropper. The video for Radiohead’s new single, “Lotus […]

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