Lotus Flower (song)

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"Lotus Flower"
Song by Radiohead from the album The King of Limbs
Released 18 February 2011 (2011-02-18)
Format Music download
Genre Electronic rock
Length 5:00
Label Self-released
Writer Radiohead
Producer

Nigel Godrich

Music video
"Lotus Flower" on YouTube
The King of Limbs track listing
  1. "Bloom"
  2. "Morning Mr Magpie"
  3. "Little By Little"
  4. "Feral"
  5. "Lotus Flower"
  6. "Codex"
  7. "Give Up The Ghost"
  8. "Separator"

"Lotus Flower" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. It was released in 2011 on their eighth studio album The King of Limbs. The song was first played live with lead singer Thom Yorke's band Atoms for Peace, albeit very different from the version on the album.[1] Musically, the song has less focus on its rhythm section than on the first half of the album, while lyrically, it is about "the magic of losing yourself in music and the senses".

"Lotus Flower" received very positive reviews from critics, with many highlighting it as the best song from The King of Limbs. The music video featuring black-and-white footage of Yorke dancing sparked an internet meme where people dubbed the footage with audio of different songs or of their own voices. "Lotus Flower" was nominated for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Short Form Music Video at the 54th Grammy Awards. Despite not being released as a single, it charted on the UK Singles Chart, the Ultratop 50, the US Alternative Songs chart, and the US Rock Songs chart.

Background and recording[edit]

The song was first played live during a tour with Atoms for Peace, on 2 October 2009, at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, as a solo guitar and vocal piece. It was later performed once by Radiohead with similar instrumentation, at the Radiohead for Haiti concert in January 2010.[2] "Lotus Flower", like the rest of The King of Limbs, was possibly recorded in the house of actress Drew Barrymore, as she is thanked in the album's liner notes.[3]

Composition[edit]

This sample of the song contains part of the chorus and the reference to the song's title.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song is driven by five minutes of a repeating beat.[4] It features lead singer Thom Yorke's layered falsetto vocals over a striding bass line and drums.[5] It contains a large amount of reverberation, and it combines the "keyboard-and-drum machine sound" of Kid A and the "sonic warmth" of In Rainbows.[1] The tempo is slowed down from the previous tracks, and the emphasis is placed on Yorke's vocals.[6]

Arnold Pan of PopMatters stated that "Everything seems amped up on the track; the synthesized grooves are deeper and heavier, the syncopated beats more precise and relentless, while Yorke’s approximation of a R&B falsetto reaches for more and hits higher notes, at least in a figurative sense."[7] The track has Radiohead focusing less on their rhythm section and contains a more traditional song structure than on the first half of the album.[8] It is one of the only songs on The King of Limbs that has an "actual" chorus." Luke Lewis of the NME speculated that the lyrics are about "transcendence, self-effacement", and "the magic of losing yourself in music and the senses".[1][9]

Reception[edit]

The song received positive reviews from critics. Billboard named it the high point of The King of Limbs,[10] while The New York Times called it the "standout" of the album.[11] The A.V. Club named "Lotus Flower" The King of Limbs catchiest song, a sensually slinky come-on that’s one remix away from being a dance-floor favorite".[12] The Independent described the track as "not exactly a singalong anthem" but also said it was the "notional single" that is "just blank and cryptic enough to sustain various interpretations".[13] The NME said the following of "Lotus Flower": "a subtle but powerful song this is, anchored by a sleekly propulsive bass line and capped with a truly beautiful, almost Prince-like falsetto vocal."[9] At the 54th Grammy Award Ceremony, the song was nominated for Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Song, but lost both.[14]

Music video[edit]

Garth Jennings directed the video of "Lotus Flower", which features Yorke's "spastic" dancing

A music video was released on 18 February 2011 and features black-and-white footage of Yorke dancing while singing the song. It was directed by Hammer & Tongs member Garth Jennings and choreographed by Wayne McGregor.[15] The video was originally uploaded on the band's official YouTube channel on February 16, 2011.[16] The video led to the tag #thomdance to become a trending topic on Twitter.[4] It also sparked an internet meme named "Dancing Thom Yorke" where people replaced the audio of the "Lotus Flower" video with other songs, or dubbed different voices on the video.[17] The video received a nomination for Best Short Form Music Video at the 2012 Grammy Awards.[14]

The video received positive reviews from critics. IndieWire wrote that director Jennings was able to turn Yorke's "spastic" dancing into art. The website described the concept as "simple" and genius", and said the video was "bizarrely compelling [...] with Yorke's flailing, curiously spellbinding limbs as the main attraction."[18] The British newspaper Metro held a "music video fight club" where they judged the music videos for "Lotus Flower" and "Hold It Against Me" by Britney Spears to see which one was better. They praised the dancing of Yorke, saying "somehow, even though he seems to be mass of tangled limbs in the grip of an attack of some sort, it works." The newspaper, however, criticized the visuals of the video, describing the empty room as "sparse to say the least". They declared "Lotus Flower" the winner of the "music video fight club", two points to one point.[19]

Chart performances[edit]

Chart Peak position
UK Singles Chart 165[20]
Belgium Ultratop 40 16[21]
US Alternative Songs 33[22]
US Rock Songs 41[23]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'Lotus Flower' - What Do You Think?". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Radiohead At Ease — Lotus Flower Lyrics". At Ease Web. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Sean Michaels (23 March 2011). "Did Radiohead record King of Limbs at Drew Barrymore's house?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Mike Diver (18 February 2011). "Review of Radiohead — The King of Limbs". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Andy Gill (19 February 2012). "First Listen: The King of Limbs". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Jason Gregory (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'The King Of Limbs' - First Review". Gigwise. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Arnold Pan (21 February 2011). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Mark Pytlik (24 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead,'The King of Limbs' - First Listen". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Jillian Mapes (22 February 2011). "Radiohead, "The King of Limbs"". Billboard. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Nate Chinen (29 September 2011). "Anticorporate Music Personified, In Close-Up, on an Intimate Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Steven Hyden (22 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Simon Price (20 February 2011). "Radiohead, The King of Limbs (Ticker Tape/XL)". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Nominees and Winners". Grammy Awards. Retrieved 11 December 2011.  Note: reader must define awards year parameter as 2011.
  15. ^ "El baile de Thom Yorke en distintos ritmos" (in spanish). El Observador. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "Radiohead — Lotus Flower Video". kovideo.net. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  17. ^ Adam Markovitz. "Dancing Thom Yorke meme meets Lady Gaga, Guns N' Roses, 'Black Swan': Which is your favorite?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  18. ^ Kevin Jagernauth (18 February 2011). "Watch: Video For Radiohead's 'Lotus Flower' Turns Thom Yorke's Spastic Dancing Into Art". Indiewire. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Ann Lee (18 February 2012). "Radiohead vs Britney Spears: Music video fight club". Metro. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Chart Log UK: New Entries Update". zobbel.de. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Radiohead — Lotus Flower" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Radiohead Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "Radiohead Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 9 April 2012.