I have a love / hate relationship with Radiohead. Love in so far that they produce absolutely sublime pieces of music which reach deeper than One Direction. Hate in so far as they rarely deal with happy thoughts … but I guess you can’t always get what you want …
I was struck by the daring attempt to release a chart song that deals with the issues of thought crime, surveillance, being a heretic and other dystopian matter, probably informed by 1984 amongst other works.
Listen to “Burn The Witch” without the video and all appears a bit upbeat. Watch the video and at first glance you are confronted with what appears to be a remake of the children’s programme “Trumpton”. As you look deeper, you begin to realise that not all is well in the village as social cohesion breaks down and a scapegoat is identified for an unidentified malaise. This culminates in a scene from “The Wicker Man”, although it appears that the man who gets burned in the tower then reappears relatively unscathed in the final scene. The animators say that the video refers to Islamophobia and the refugee crisis although the song was written some 10-15 years ago.
Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messenger
I’m not quite sure what goes on in Thom Yorke’s mind or why, but “Burn The Witch” certainly deserves a place in popular culture, proving that pop music can address more than “boy meets girl” issues. Since the lyrics are beautifully ambiguous the song has multiple meanings, allowing the listener to project their own interpretation into the piece. Given that the establishment banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” and Prince’s “Sexy MF” I’m surprised and delighted that our leaders allow such potent material into the world … or perhaps they just don’t get it?
Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change.
Come along to our next free event at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Lounge on Wed May 25th at 3 pm where I will be in conversation with Jordan Gray, star of BBC One’s The Voice. We will also get a unique opportunity to see Jordan perform a few songs and preview her new album “The Baffled King”.
Jordan Gray, performing with Paloma Faith on The Voice
Jordan is an all round talent and a great inspiration : A songwriter, accomplished pianist, vocalist with multiple voices and an engaging performer. Peter will be in conversation with Jordan, discussing her life as a musician, her journey as a transgender person, the exhilarating experience of competing on The Voice and most importantly her future as an artist, author and much more.
Since appearing on The Voice, and unlike the usual suspects, Jordan’s multiple talents have been recognised by global record labels. She is presently considering a major record deal, having been adopted by Paloma Faith and Boy George.
The event is free to attend but booking is ESSENTIAL
Call Virgin on 0207 439 8802 to reserve your space
We have more access to more data about our health, wealth and happiness than any previous generation. But does more data give us a greater sense of wellbeing?
Click to view our articles for Virgin
Well, what do you think?
Shall we ask Tom Waits?
“We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness”
And the dark thoughts of Radiohead? The song “Fitter, Happier” was described by Yorke as a checklist of slogans for the 1990s, which he considered “the most upsetting thing I’ve ever written”. More than ever, we are bombarded with slogans to live by and we need to be centred in order to cope with modern life.
Jordan Gray enters the semi-finals of The Voice tonight on BBC One. Check her stunning dramatic performance in the quarter-finals:
… and her beautiful interpretation of Kate Bush’s song “This Woman’s Work”. Although Jordan writes her own exceptional compositions, The Voice requires the performance of other artist’s work. Unusually, Jordan makes any other artist’s work her own:
There is much contention and gnashing of teeth over what is called The X-Factor Culture. Some people presume that it is enough to get on the TV with a backing track and be catapulted to stardom. In the vast majority of cases, this is untrue and people miss all the blood, sweat and tears that takes place on the way to lasting stardom.
This is never more true in the case of Jordan Gray, currently about to enter the quarter finals of The Voice tonight. Jordan has hardly revealed more than 10% of her talents on the shows to date in my humble opinion. Jordan is an extremely talented pianist and musicologist, a very capable songwriter with massive creativity in her compositions. She is also a very fluent singer with multiple voices which she calls on in her performances and a captivating performer in her own right. That’s such a rare combination of talents in my long experience. Just check out two of her own compositions that show more of her talent than can be showcased in 90 seconds on a TV programme.
I am privileged to have shared a stage with this massive talent – the REAL X-Factor.
We’re throwing a party on April Fools’ Day to formally mark the release of my 7th book for Bloomsbury Publishing plc, at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money Lounge in London. I’d like to invite you all to attend. It’s FREE but booking is essential via 0207 439 8802.
I will be joined by Professor Adrian Furnham from University College London. Adrian is author of 90 books, an eminent psychologist and writer for the Sunday Times on everything from dating to the dark side of climbing the corporate ladder. He will be interviewing me around “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise”.
May the Creative Force be with you …
Since it’s April Fool’s Day, Adrian and myself will be discussing aspects of creativity, playfulness and tomfoolery, served up in a heady cocktail with some music to lighten the afternoon. Sir Richard Branson knows that a happy workplace is one where people have fun whilst getting the job done and this session will tickle your funny bones as well as carrying some serious messages about leadership, innovation and creativity at work.
Professor Adrian Furnham – he’s no fool
Booking is essential – Give the team a call on 0207 439 8802.