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68. Radiohead – Motion Picture Soundtrack



So far, as much as possible, I’ve taken the songs on this list at face value, isolated from their host album. But Motion Picture Soundtrack is so inexorably tied to its LP that it’s pointless not to think about it in that context. Appearing at the end of Kid A’s bleakness, brinkmanship and deliberate discomfort, this works as one massive exhalation of relief – it’s an overflowing of uplift after so much confusion and awkwardness. Coming on like a lost section to Disney’s Fantasia, or an alternative ending to the White Album, the song’s soundworld is quite magical, and as the strung-out, quasi-mechanical choir reaches its peak, the unbearable heaviness of being Radiohead* seems momentarily to have lifted. Lyrically, too, the song is a welcome change to the rest of Kid A. As a sad lament to a lost love, the image conjured by the line “red wine and sleeping pills help me get back in your arms” is as poignant as any on Radiohead’s more direct, earlier LPs – something perhaps explained by the claim that the song’s earliest form actually predates Creep. Radiohead have always majored in delicate album finales (Street Spirit, The Tourist etc), but even among that elite group, Motion Picture Soundtrack shines through – never in pop music has a song diffused its preceding album’s tension as gorgeously as this.

*For this wonderful phrase I am indebted to former NME hack Keith Cameron, who used it in his review of Kid A. He awarded the album 7/10, if I remember rightly.

One Comment leave one →
  1. simon permalink
    20/10/2009 9:20 pm

    ‘It’s not like the movies/ They fed us on little white lies’

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