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Radiohead Burn Their Social Media Activity Ahead of Video Reveal

Consequence of Sound
The fact that Radiohead are up to something has been pretty self-evident for some time now. They announced a new tour some weeks back, and on Monday, fans who had previously ordered Radiohead merchandise received a card in the post. Along with a mysterious image and embossed band logo, the card featured the following text: "Sing a song of sixpence that goes/Burn the Witch/We know where you live,"

People found themselves mired in a blend of excitement and confusion that has become synonymous with the run up to a new release from the iconic band. Things initially only got more confusing from there though, as the following day literally everything on their social media channels vanished. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everything was gone.

Cue a massive onslaught of speculation from fans and publications alike. Was this the first sign of a new album dropping? Would we suddenly be seeing a download link? Well, mere hours later, we got our answer, not in the form of an album, but a music video. A music video for a song called 'Burn the Witch'.

The song follows the same trend of electronic, classically influenced menace that Radiohead have been messing with since Kid A (which was 16 years ago, if you can believe it), and as the title suggests, it's thematically tied to the idea of witch hunting, either literally or metaphorically. There's a particularly poignant line in the second verse - "Loose talk around tables/Abandon all reason/Avoid all eye contact/Do not react" - to my mind, this references the tendency during times to extreme paranoia to suspect or condemn anyone who questions the system, something which was particularly true during the McCarthyist era in the US.

The video is an almost perfect juxtaposition of twee and disturbing. It's done in a particular style of stop motion particularly reminiscent of Postman Pat, but contextually it acts as a kind of send-up to The Wicker Man, as an inspector of some sort is led through a seemingly pleasant village, only to be met with surrealism, cultism and torture, before the video reaches a deeply unsettling conclusion.

'Burn the Witch' isn't a new project, it's something that's been gestating in the Radiohead womb for over a decade, which likely why all this buzz has developed around its arrival. The decision to unveil it using a social media stunt might seem like a no-brainer, it's what everyone is doing, but think a little deeper - paranoia, judgement, shaming, witch hunting - all these things have been redefined and intensified in the age of Facebook and Twitter. That is more than likely exactly the point that Radiohead are trying to make, they were just waiting for the right time.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Radiohead Burn Their Social Media Activity Ahead of Video Reveal Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, May 06, 2016 Rating: 5

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