Radiohead Drops Full Stop-Motion Video for 'Burn the Witch'

Courtesy of Radiohead/YouTube
'Burn the Witch'

The cheery video is accompanied by a typically claustrophobic, eerie new song from the band.

After a mystery-filled week of bizarre clues, Radiohead got down to real business Tuesday morning when the bad posted the full video for its new single, "Burn the Witch." The stop-motion four-minute clip directed by "There There" director Chris Hopewell tells the story of a quaint village preparing to, well, burn a witch.

The cheery video is accompanied by a typically claustrophobic, eerie new song from the band, which chugs along on an urgent string arrangement that builds to a peak during a scene in which a man is burned alive in a giant effigy similar to the one torched at the annual Burning Man festival. This site has already begun spinning a conspiracy theory about how the title of the song appeared in the artwork to the band's 2003 album, Hail to the Thief, while chronicling the seemingly long, clue-filled road the track took to release.

The spare lyrics to the song appear to have provided the narrative arc of the video. "Stay in the shadows/ Cheer the gallows/ This is a round up/ This is a low-flying panic attack," singer Thom Yorke intones in his signature falsetto before wailing the song's refrain about burning a witch in a village. "Red crosses on wooden doors/ If you float you burn/ Loose talk around tables/ Abandon all reason."

Among the key animators who created the video are Virpi Kettu and Oli Putland, who've both worked with Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Gromit. 

Earlier in the day, the band posted two short Instagram clips that, as it turns out, were taken from the finished video. The alternative British band took the unusual step over the weekend of deleting all postings on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, and its website had gone completely white. Postings on frontman Yorke’s Twitter account also went blank.

The plot thickened when some Radiohead fans in the U.K. received mysterious leaflets in the mail, heralding "Sing the song of sixpence that goes 'Burn the witch.' We know where you live." The lines now appear to have been foreshadowing the song's lyrics. "Burn the Witch" will be available on all digital services May 4.

Immediately after its release, the song shot to No. 1 on Billboard + Twitter's Trending 140 chart, which measures acceleration of conversation and shares of given songs on Twitter.

This article first appeared on Billboard.com.

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