Rabbit in Your Headlights

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"Rabbit in Your Headlights"
Single by UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke
from the album Psyence Fiction
Released 1998
Format CD, 7" vinyl
Genre Trip hop
Length 6:18
Label Mo' Wax
Writer(s) Thom Yorke, Josh Davis
Producer(s) UNKLE
UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke singles chronology
"Last Orgy 3"
(1998)
"Rabbit in Your Headlights"
(1998)
Music video
"Rabbit In Your Headlights" on YouTube

"Rabbit in Your Headlights" is a song by British electronic duo UNKLE. It was released as the lead single from their debut album Psyence Fiction (1998). The song features vocals from British musician and Radiohead member Thom Yorke. The song was written by Yorke and UNKLE member Josh Davis and produced by UNKLE, the track heavily utilizes samples from other songs. The track takes its title from a quote from the 1990 thriller film Jacob's Ladder; dialogue from the film is also one of many samples on the song. The song also appears to sample the percussion from Talk Talk's "New Grass".

Musically, "Rabbit in Your Headlights" combines Yorke's moody vocals and an instrumental containing a variety of samples from sources ranging from Dutch band Supersister to the 1997 film Contact. While the single was not a commercial success, the song was positively received by critics.

The song's accompanying music video, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring actor Denis Lavant, was widely acclaimed for its direction and cinematography, and won numerous awards.

Music video[edit]

Denis Lavant in the "Rabbit in your headlights" video
This shot earned the video its recognition.

The song's music video, directed by Jonathan Glazer, premiered in November 1998. The critically acclaimed video won the MVPA's Best International Video of the Year Award in 1999. In 2006, Stylus Magazine ranked it number one on their list of the Top 100 Music Videos of All Time. It is anthologised on the DVD Directors Label, Vol. 5: The Work of Director Jonathan Glazer. The video recalls imagery from the Alan Clarke-directed film "Made in Britain." In that movie, actor Denis Lavant is seen walking down a London tunnel, shirtless, while a car drives by, honking its horn.

The video uses a technique which Glazer would later use for the "A Song for the Lovers" video, being shot in real-time and allowing the diegetic sounds produced by objects and characters to be audible above the music. It differs from that video in that the music itself is non-diegetic.

Plot[edit]

The video stars Denis Lavant as a man wearing a heavy parka and walking along the middle of the road in a busy car tunnel. He appears to be out of his mind, mumbling and shouting incoherences, only occasionally including intelligible words such as "Cristo", "Allahu Akbar", and "shimmer!" Some of the cars honk at him and swerve out of his way. All of a sudden a car hits him from the side, and he is left on the ground. The car, a Saab 900, continues its course without stopping or slowing down. After a while, the man stands up and starts walking again as if nothing had happened. Then another car hits him; this time the hit occurs straight on and sends him flying a couple of feet. A passing motorist watches with contempt as the man rolls in the street. The man gets up again. A car swerves by and slows down alongside the man, occupied by three young men played by British actor Craig Kelly as the vehicle's driver and UNKLE's James Lavelle and Richard File as passengers. The driver repeatedly inquires as to the man's destination, who for his part seems oblivious to their presence and continues along his way blurting, "Saint Christopher"; the driver soon tires of this and speeds off whilst calling out, "Nice coat, man!" Another car hits the man, and he gets up almost instantly. The madness which this man is apparently suffering from gets more acute as he grabs his face and moves erratically. More accidents occur, some cars honk, some cars swerve out of the way — but none stop.

The man removes his parka and throws it on the ground. He is shirtless underneath, and we see his chest covered with bruises and cuts. After the ritornello, leaving just a piano and drums playing, the man stops as well. He smiles and opens his arms in a crucifix-like position. A MK2 Cavalier is coming his way and makes no intention of stopping. The car hits the man, but this time he stands unmoved, and the car is destroyed upon impact.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rabbit in Your Headlights" – 6:18
  2. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (Instrumental)" – 6:00
  3. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (Underdog Mix)" – 4:46
  4. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (Underdog Instrumental)" – 4:31
  5. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (3D Mix - Reverse Light)" – 7:32
  6. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (3D Mix - Reverse Light Instrumental)" – 7:32
  7. "Rabbit in Your Headlights (Suburban Hell Remix)" – 6:07
  8. "Rabbit in Your Headlights" (DJ Shadow & James Lavelle [UNKLE] feat. Thom Yorke) -- 5:02

External links[edit]