RADIOHEAD – Single Review: “Burn the Witch”


I love Radiohead’s new single “Burn the Witch” from their latest album A Moon Shaped Pool, released in May 2016. The song’s dark lyrics, hauntingly sung by Thom Yorke’s beautiful falsetto, sharply contrast with the gorgeous arrangement by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and lush strings performed by the  London Contemporary Orchestra.

So too with the clever, cartoonish video, as Radiohead wanted it to contast with the song’s darker meaning. Directed by Chris Hopewell, the video uses stop-motion animation in the style of the 1960s English children’s television Trumpton Trilogy programs. It pays homage to the 1973 horror film The Wicker Man. (Wikipedia) An inspector is greeted by a town official and invited to see a series of unsettling sights, culminating in the unveiling of a huge wicker man. The official urges the inspector to climb into the wicker man, whereupon he is locked inside and the wicker man is set on fire. As the flames build, the townspeople turn their backs to the burning wicker man. After the song ends, the inspector appears to have escaped, with birds chirping happily among the trees.

Pitchfork writer Marc Hogan suggested that the use of the Trumpton Trilogy style, which portrays an idyllic, crime-free rural Britain, is intended to satirize the rhetoric of family values used by right-wing politicians such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and members of the UK Independence Party.

As a footnote, according to an article in The Guardian, the son-in-law of Trumpton creator Gordon Murray stated that the family had not been asked permission to use the style for the video, and saw it as a “tarnishing of the brand.” He added that they would not have allowed its use, considered it a breach of copyright, and were “deciding what to do next.”

2 thoughts on “RADIOHEAD – Single Review: “Burn the Witch”

  1. chuck jung

    Well I was prepared to hate it but I loved the music. Lyrics were good to and I guess the pupets made it a little bit lighter. But the jury is still out on this one.


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