Complex songs, simple videos

Fake Plastic Trees is Radiohead’s masterpiece. They seem to have lost their heads trying to determine where to go from there, and it’s understandable. There’s really nothing they — or any other band — can do in the same territory that won’t suffer by comparison.

I hadn’t seen the video for it until I stumbled into a Top 100 compiled by Stylus. I watched it for the first time this evening and … was not impressed.

I’m not sure a good video could be made for this one. Stylus claims the supermarket setting perfectly captures the alienation and dull conformity expressed in the song. But the song is about so much more than that. It’s not just some whiny Marxist or Billy Corgan rant about how boring life is because the suburbs are sterile.

Is alienation even the main theme of the song? I’d say no. It’s about the struggle to keep up appearances, to build facades to cover up those parts of ourselves we don’t like. Perhaps they’re keeping up appearances to meet some dull conformist standard, but not necessarily. And even so, what does any of it have to do with Thom Yorke scowling on a shopping cart?

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