Wife and I sat down to watch Radiohead: Seven Television Commercials, a brief collection of Radiohead music videos. It had been sitting in the NetFlix queue for so long I had forgotten it was there — arrived in the mailbox like the memory of an old friend.Â Such impressionistic stuff, we decided to skip any attempt at actual review/synopsis and instead just riff words off the visuals and post whatever came out, do a sort of Kerouac typewriter roll on it.
What follows are seven songs, seven paragraphs.
n.b.: Radiohead (or its label EMI (c.f. John Lydon on EMI) or the copyright Mormons, or whomever) have seen fit to disable embeddable video for the band’s videos, so you’ll have to click through to see moving pictures, sorry).
Fake Plastic Trees
Through the grate of a shopping cart (the good kind, the metal kind), young Yorke riding rows of bioluminescent beverages. A chaise lounge, woman in beehive. Slow shaking of head like trying to scare out a wasp. Strange babies along for the ride. No exit? This is a British high-fashion dream-time shopping spree. Old man Jackson brandishing sterling six-guns. Dudes in sweats mosy down. “It wears me out.” On surveillance it’s all black and white, the gushing colors gone, but only for a moment, then the moment’s gone. If Stanley Kubrik made music videos, they would have looked like this.
Love that ringing bells guitar sound. Yorke reading backwards text, his own lyrics. This must be the man in the mirror. Reflections on face make it seem like he’s in a space helmet, but no. Too much oxygen here. Uh oh, close up of bad teeth and the water line. I take it back about the oxygen. Tension line of the water rising. Submerged. Nostril bubbles. Like that his eyes are two different sizes. No surprises. Lips fleshy underwater and a bit pale like they’ve been submerged for a year, pair of sea cucumbers. Ah, breath! Ears wide like wings.
Leaping from Silverstream trailer, ninja ballet chick becomes dragonfly. Yorke lets out a little spasm shudder dustfinger. Yorke in Pumas. Fooling around with infrared and stop-motion. Spit flies from doberman’s mouth in slo-mo silver light flurry, ninja girl better bend her knees or she’ll break her back! This ain’t no “Chimes of Freedom” flashing. Is this something a film student would do? They’re obviously angst-ridden. Yorke’s face melts and morphs. This chair ain’t gonna fly itself… oh wait it is.
Shot over hood of big American cruiser down night highway, grass on sides of road unearthly glow. Man running down road like a deer escaping headlights. Yorke is a perfect walking enigma. “This is what you’ll get.”Â Camera pans over the Lux Interior, scarlet velvet, more of a ketchup red. Running man won’t give up, won’t give in. Lens flare like 70s sci-fi. Those square headlights bearing down. I think these guys hate their fathers. Running man has stopped, struggling to light a match. Center line goes up in flames, car bearing backwards, then engulfed.
Tilt focus! Businessman falls to pavement. “Jesus I’m sorry I didn’t see you there.” “No I’m fine please leave me alone.” Apparent suicide, doesn’t want help. Citizens want to be involved. Is this utopia? Dialog in subtitles, like a noir flick backwards. Build of momentum reminiscent of Cul de Sac. Guitarist’s front hair damn long. Damned. Man confesses reason for suicide to crowd, whoÂ all lie down as well. Something existential going on here, but I don’t know what it is.
Cartoon boy rubbing shampoo from eyes. Phone ringing, oh my god. Countries voting. Jesus girl jumps from trees. Boys choose dinosaur fish from pet store, gap-toothed women make me sneeze. Ship sails away off into the dentist. Fat man in loincloth pulls axe from briefcase. Angel in helicopter rescues boy, teaches boy to fly, turns out he’s better at ping pong. Fat man amputates own legs with the axe, mermaids rescue him from seabed.Â Taxi off into the sunset, limbless man in tree fed by snowy white egret.
High and Dry
First 30 seconds totally generic, broken by a diner pushing his housekey into a bowl of pudding (mayonnaise?) The waitress’ mascara the deepest blue, like Klein Blue, yeah that blue. Nice to see ordinary people lip synching the lyrics rather than the artist. They’re good at it.Â The diner is called Dick’s. A stopwatch buried in french fries. A flaming Corvette. Kind of a Tarantino thing going on. And we’re out.