Hype Song of the Month // Radiohead Burn The Witch
This is hype: Just a few days before Radiohead released their new album A Moon Shaped Pool, the band vanished almost entirely from the internet. The opacity of Radiohead’s website slowly went dim as a first act in a series of online vanishing acts from the band. The same thing then appeared to happen with the band’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, with every post deleted until empty pages remained. The reason behind the bizarre internet coup was revealed only a day after when fans received a series of mysterious flyers in the post, which read: “Sing a song of sixpence that goes/Burn the Witch/We know where you live.” Exactly the lyrics from the chorus of Radiohead’s brilliant comeback single Burn The Witch that was released just two days after fans received those cryptic messages.
Burn The Witch is a highly addictive orchestral pop song blending acoustic and electronic elements into a dynamic backdrop for Thom Yorke’s melancholic vocals over the song. The trick of the song is in large part from how it starts intense, exerting almost percussive string harmonies and continious synth lines, but still finds ways to intensify by Yorke’s falsetto vocals leading into the chorus before a nightmarish string crescendo ends the song. Arriving at the current chaotic stage in global politics, Burn The Witch comes with a bittersweet stop-motion video, inspired by the British children’s TV series The Trumptonshire Trilogy, hinting at the European refugee crisis. But the video fits more than one scenario: overstated internet shaming, North Carolina bathroom hysteria, homophobia or racism. Here, a man is given a tour of a picture-perfect town in which the residents do creepy and violent things to each other. This odd witch hunt culminates in the man nearly being burned to death inside a massive wooden effigy — a clear homage to 1973 British horror film The Wicker Man. While everyone fears a mutiny stirred by Trump, Le Pen and Farage, Burn The Witch perfectly operates as anitdote to low-flying panic attacks.