THROWBACK THURSDAY :: Grant Lee x Radiohead – No Surprises
Radiohead have a history of great music videos with the likes of ‘Just’ and ‘Karma Police’, all of them intriguing and creepy in equal measure. And this is no exception.
From the director Grant Gee who worked in conjunction with Radiohead on the documentary ‘Meeting People is Easy’ – about the perils of the music industry. In ‘No Surprises’, as in the film, Gee manages to capture the interesting combination of defiance and defeatism that the band express towards modern life. They have a reluctant figurehead for this nihilistic revolution in Thom Yorke. Yorke’s drowning face perfectly actualizes these feelings, he is someone being dragged down by society and yet desperately fighting to stay afloat. This idea is as relevant in today’s political climate as in 1997.
Much like Radiohead’s music the message of their songs have a timeless quality reflective of the human condition. ‘No Surprises’ is a Radiohead classic in this sense – its opening notes conjure up feelings of isolation and contemplation. Radiohead are thinking man’s music and so their videos are often simple ideas set up to intrigue an intellectual audience.
‘No Surprises’ is a brilliant example of this. An all time favourite video and all time favourite song for many a fan. Thom Yorke is in his element in this somber, and slighty sinister, video. A lack of emotion juxtaposes with the depressing tone of the song, sending an eerie but also intriguing message. Radiohead have made a video in which we watch someone’s expressionless face for two minutes and don’t get bored. The panic on Yorke’s face is an excellent mirror for the haunting verse, something which Gee would’ve felt at ease portraying having worked with the band so closely. Pairing the mesmeric nature of Thom Yorke’s face – drowning, with dark, tormented lyrics – visualises the way the track makes you feel. Lost, alone, almost definitely in a dark room on your own. This is tortured indie simplicity at its finest.