The story of Radiohead is not solely about the band’s extraordinary music. Radiohead has also made some of the greatest music videos of all time. Working with music video’s most innovative directors, including Jonathan Glazer, Michel Gondry, Jamie Thraves, Shynola, Jake Scott, Sophie Muller, Grant Gee, and others, the band’s commitment to visual creativity has resulted in some of the most memorable, groundbreaking and influential music videos in the history of the medium.
Radiohead: The Best Of documents the band’s huge contribution to music video as an artform. The DVD features Radiohead’s earliest videos, including “Creep,” which helped to propel the band’s first single into a massive hit in the U.S., as well as “Anyone Can Play Guitar” and “Pop Is Dead.”
Two different videos made for “High And Dry,” the band’s first single from The Bends, are included, and the glossy production for “Fake Plastic Trees,” directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley) when the band was still arguably better-known in the States than in the U.K.
Also included is the run of great videos which began when Radiohead chose to work with young English director Jamie Thraves, who had little to his credit other than several acclaimed film school shorts. The result was the band’s first all-time classic video, for “Just.” The genius of “Just” lies in its unforgettable final twist, and the video broke new ground in the way it subtly fused narrative with the band’s performance. Thraves, who has since directed more acclaimed videos, including Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and movies (The Lowdown and the forthcoming Cry Of The Owl), also edited two other versions – one all-narrative, another all-performance – in case it didn’t work. “Just” has won awards and has been named in numerous best ever videos polls – and it was recently parodied in the recent video for Mark Ronson’s cover version.
Radiohead’s next video would also win ‘greatest ever’ acclaim. For “Street Spirit,” the band teamed with top music video and commercials director Jonathan Glazer. His work includes the video for Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity,” the Guinness “Surfer” commercial (voted the best ad of all time) and he would then go on to direct movies like Sexy Beast. Glazer's rigorous approach and intensity gelled with Thom Yorke, and the result was a mesmerizing and groundbreaking video. Glazer captured the hypnotic beauty of “Street Spirit” in his understated use of special effects and, in particular, high-speed photography. The still-astonishing trailer park-set video became a big award-winner, including Best Video of 1996 at British music video award show The CADS. Glazer later revealed that Thom Yorke encouraged him to simplify his ideas for the video until the slow motion footage became the backbone of the piece.
Radiohead and Glazer worked together again two years later on the video for “Karma Police.” With the director preparing to shoot his first movie, the result was suitably cinematic: it’s shot from the viewpoint of a Cadillac driver bearing down on a man staggering down a road, with Thom Yorke in the car’s back seat. Something bad is going to happen, but there’s a scorching twist in the tale. As with “Street Spirit,” the perfectionist Glazer insisted on re-shoots before being satisfied with the results.
In between the two Glazer videos came an inspired departure for the accompaniment to the hugely anticipated first single from third Radiohead album OK Computer, “Paranoid Android.” Instead of commissioning an established video director, the band invited Swedish animator Magnus Carlsson to make a surreal animated adventure featuring his cartoon slacker character Robin.
The band became enthusiastic patrons of a new wave of groundbreaking animation. Radiohead’s experimental album Kid A produced no singles or videos, but instead, 10-to 40-second animated ‘blipverts’ – many created by Shynola, a four-man group of computer animators not long out of film school. When Radiohead released the more accessible Amnesiac, Shynola directed the video for “Pyramid Song,” a superb ultimately devastating animation: a diver plunges into the sea from a concrete island to reveal a city, his home, submerged below.
Radiohead subsequently collaborated with pioneering CGI artists Johnny Hardstaff, who was given the freedom to make a single video for two tracks, “Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors” and “Like Spinning Plates” (retitled “Push Pulk/Spinning Plates”), and Alex Rutterford, who created a computer-generated Thom Yorke for the promo for “Go To Sleep.“
Radiohead has often given talented directors a crucial career opportunity to prove themselves, with often stunning results. Some of the work has challenged viewers’ expectations of one of the world’s biggest bands, including Ed Holdsworth’s hypnotic collection of urban landscapes for “Sit Down Stand Up.” But the band has also given established directors the chance to express themselves in a different way.
Legendary video director Michel Gondry had just made his first movie when he directed the video for “Knives Out,” a characteristically awe-inspiring, one-shot video tracking the breakdown of a relationship, including a human version of the board game Operation. And the beautiful, ghostly feel of “I Might Be Wrong” was created by Sophie Muller, more generally found directing videos for the likes of Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé, shooting Thom and Jonny Greenwood on a no-lens pinhole camera.
While Radiohead’s later videos may have tended toward the leftfield, the video for “There There,” the first single from Hail To The Thief, directed by Bristol-based animation director Chris Hopewell, was arguably the band's most popular and widely-seen video for years when it arrived in 2003. Part-Bagpuss, part-Brothers Grimm, it won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Directed Video that year.
Radiohead has encouraged directors to interpret their music in a singular fashion, and Thom Yorke in particular has been prepared to go to great lengths to realise a great concept, as demonstrated with “No Surprises,” the final video from OK Computer. Director Grant Gee, who was working with the band on their acclaimed documentary Meeting People Is Easy, persuaded Thom into a helmet that fills up with water. It’s an unforgettable (and potentially very dangerous) one-shot video as the viewer watches Thom hold his breath.
The new Radiohead: The Best Of DVD shows that Radiohead’s music videos have mirrored the band’s inspired musical progression with rare and extraordinary visual achievement.
Radiohead: The Best Of (DVD)
1. Creep (directed by Brett Turnbull)
2. Anyone Can Play Guitar (directed by Dwight Clarke)
3. Pop Is Dead (directed by Dwight Clarke)
4. Stop Whispering (directed by Jeff Plansker)
5. My Iron Lung (directed by Brett Turnbull)
6. High and Dry (UK version) (directed by David Mould)
7. High and Dry (US version) (directed by Paul Cunningham)
8. Fake Plastic Trees (directed by Jake Scott)
9. Just (directed by Jamie Thraves)
10. Street Spirit (Fade Out) (directed by Jonathan Glazer)
11. Paranoid Android (directed by Magnus Carlsson)
12. Karma Police (directed by Jonathan Glazer)
13. No Surprises (directed by Grant Gee)
14. Pyramid Song (directed by Shynola)
15. Knives Out (directed by Michel Gondry)
16. I Might Be Wrong (directed by Sophie Muller)
17. Push Pulk / Spinning Plates (directed by Johnny Hardstaff)
18. There There (directed by Chris Hopewell)
19. Go To Sleep (directed by Alex Rutterford)
20. Sit Down Stand Up (directed by Ed Holdsworth)
21. 2+2=5 (Live at Belfort Festival) (directed by Fabien Raymond)
Radiohead: The Best Of will be available in the following formats and configurations:
· a 1CD collection featuring 17 tracks
· a Special Edition 2CD, adding 13 tracks
· a 4-piece vinyl set with 29 tracks
· 17-track & 30-track digital downloads
· a DVD featuring 21 videos
All formats will be available for purchase from www.radioheadstore.com
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