Radiohead's "Burn The Witch" Lyrics & Music Video Are A Call To Action — VIDEO
For those of us who've been on the edge of our seats, wondering whether or not Radiohead will finally release a new song, Tuesday is a good day. Hours after the band teased some cryptic video clips on their social media platforms, "Burn The Witch" was released, along with a stop-motion music video. "Burn The Witch" — a surprisingly upbeat melodic tune with insidious lyrics — will be the first single from the band's upcoming (yet still untitled) ninth studio album. Does the new song tell us anything about what's to come for the band? A look into the "Burn The Witch" lyrics reveal that this could just be the haunting beginning for Radiohead's return.
The stop-motion video (below) appears to be inspired by the classic kids TV show Trumpton, as well as the 1970's horror film, The Wicker Man. The narrative of the music video follows a pastoral village that turns pretty dark once the titular witch burning commences. After fans received "Burn the Witch" leaflets in the mail last week, the band's social media and website presence started to fade away until it was swiped entirely. Such an erasure parallels the ominous contents of the song, and prefigures what could be a clean slate for an evocative and important upcoming studio album. Take a look at the "Burn the Witch" lyrics, but first watch the accompanying video.
Lead singer Thom Yorke opens with his voice relaying the follow call to action.
Stay in the shadows Cheer the gallows This is a round-upThis is a low-flying panic attack
Already, we're aware that the song's lyrics won't follow the tune's energetic beat, making the song all the more jarring. Here, we're inundated with an image of complacent citizens — those who are rooting for the execution of others (cheer the gallows), but unclear why they are doing so (stay in the shadows).
Sing the song of jukebox that goesBurn the witchBurn the witchWe know where you live
Everyone coming together to blindly sing the song "Burn the witch" confirms the type of mob mentality Radiohead might be warning us against.
Red crosses on wooden doorsIf you float, you burnLoose talk around tablesAbandon all reason Avoid all eye contact Do not reactShoot the messenger
The ideas of abandoning reason, avoiding eye contact, and not reacting by shooting the messenger all once again point to systemic injustices in society, namely in the form of unfair prosecutions. Or, as Radiohead might call them, modern day witch hunts.
This is a low-flying panic attackSing the song of sixpence that goes
Before Yorke sings "Burn the witch" to end the song, he changes the earlier lyric "Sing the song of jukebox that goes" to "Sing the song of sixpence that goes." "Sing a Song of Sixpence" is an English Nursery Rhyme that many people believe to be about King Henry VIII and his disillusionment from the Catholic Church. With the "Red crosses on wooden doors" lyric coming earlier, it's fair to say that this lyric change might be referencing a similar kind of enlightenment.
In the final seconds of the the video, we see the man who we believe has been burned to death, walk away alive. Which makes me believe that perhaps the meaning behind the song isn't so terrifying after all. Maybe it's a message of hope. Only time will tell what the other songs reveal about Radiohead's intent when the ninth album is released.