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
Length 5:00
Writer(s) Radiohead
Producer(s) Nigel Godrich
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"
Music video
"Lotus Flower" on YouTube

"Lotus Flower" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released on their eighth studio album The King of Limbs (2011). It features singer Thom Yorke's falsetto over syncopated beats and a "propulsive" bass line. Its music video, featuring Yorke's erratic dancing, spawned an internet meme.

Despite not being released as a single, "Lotus Flower" charted on the UK Singles Chart, the Ultratop 50, the US Alternative Songs chart and the US Rock Songs chart. It received positive reviews and was nominated for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Music Video at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and recording[edit]

On tour with his band Atoms for Peace, singer Thom Yorke debuted a solo acoustic version of "Lotus Flower" at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on 2 October 2009.[1] Like the rest of The King of Limbs, the song was possibly recorded in the house of actress Drew Barrymore, who is thanked in the album's liner notes.[2]


According to the NME, "Lotus Flower" combines the "keyboard-and-drum machine sound" of Radiohead's fourth album Kid A (2000) with the "sonic warmth" of their seventh album In Rainbows (2007).[1] It features Yorke's "Prince-like"[3] falsetto over syncopated beats and a synthesized "propulsive" bass line.[4][5][6] Though the main percussion beat is in 4/4 time, the hand claps are in 5/8 time, creating a metric dissonance.[7] The song has a more traditional song structure than the first half of The King of Limbs;[8] Luke Lewis of the NME described it as "probably the only song on The King of Limbs with an actual chorus", and speculated that the lyrics are about "transcendence, self-effacement", and "the magic of losing yourself in music and the senses".[1][4]


The song received positive reviews from critics. Billboard[9] and The New York Times praised it as The King of Limbs's best track.[10] The A.V. Club described it as "a sensually slinky come-on that's one remix away from being a dance-floor favorite".[11] The Independent described the song as "not exactly a singalong anthem" but "just blank and cryptic enough to sustain various interpretations".[12] The NME called it "subtle but powerful".[4] It was nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.[13]

Music video[edit]

Garth Jennings directed the "Lotus Flower" music video.

Radiohead released a music video for "Lotus Flower" on their YouTube channel on February 16, 2011.[14] It features black-and-white footage of Yorke dancing erratically. It was directed by Hammer & Tongs member Garth Jennings and choreographed by Wayne McGregor.[15] The video sparked the "Dancing Thom Yorke" internet meme, whereby people replaced the video's audio or edited the visuals,[16] and led to the hashtag "#thomdance" to become a trending topic on Twitter.[17]

The video received positive reviews from critics. IndieWire wrote that director Jennings had turned Yorke's "spastic" dancing into art that it was "bizarrely compelling ... with Yorke's flailing, curiously spellbinding limbs as the main attraction".[18] Metro praised Yorke's performance, writing that "somehow, even though he seems to be mass of tangled limbs in the grip of an attack of some sort, it works", but criticised the video set as "sparse to say the least".[19] The video was nominated for Best Music Video at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.[13]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[20] 15
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[21] 16
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[22] 53
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company)[23] 165
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[24] 20
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[25] 33
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[26] 41


  1. ^ a b c Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'Lotus Flower' - What Do You Think?". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Sean Michaels (23 March 2011). "Did Radiohead record King of Limbs at Drew Barrymore's house?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Jason Gregory (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'The King Of Limbs' - First Review". Gigwise. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead,'The King of Limbs' - First Listen". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Andy Gill (19 February 2012). "First Listen: The King of Limbs". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Arnold Pan (21 February 2011). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Osborn, Brad (2014). ""Kid Algebra: Radiohead's Euclidean and Maximally Even Rhythms"" (PDF). Perspectives of New Music. 52: 97. 
  8. ^ Mark Pytlik (24 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Jillian Mapes (22 February 2011). "Radiohead, "The King of Limbs"". Billboard. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Nate Chinen (29 September 2011). "Anticorporate Music Personified, In Close-Up, on an Intimate Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Steven Hyden (22 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Simon Price (20 February 2011). "Radiohead, The King of Limbs (Ticker Tape/XL)". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Nominees and Winners". Grammy Awards. Retrieved 11 December 2011.  Note: reader must define awards year parameter as 2011.
  14. ^ "Radiohead — Lotus Flower video". youtube.com. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  15. ^ "El baile de Thom Yorke en distintos ritmos" (in Spanish). El Observador. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Adam Markovitz. "Dancing Thom Yorke meme meets Lady Gaga, Guns N' Roses, 'Black Swan': Which is your favorite?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Mike Diver (18 February 2011). "Review of Radiohead — The King of Limbs". BBC. 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. ^ "Ultratop.be – Radiohead – Lotus Flower" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Radiohead – Lotus Flower" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Radiohead – Chart history" Japan Hot 100 for Radiohead. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  23. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: New Entries Update". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "Radiohead – Chart history" Billboard Adult Alternative Songs for Radiohead. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  25. ^ "Radiohead – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Radiohead. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  26. ^ "Radiohead – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Radiohead. Retrieved 9 April 2012.