Breaking Down the Kanye/Radiohead Mash-up

Stereogum is right—a “Love Lockdown”/”Reckoner” mash-up was “inevitable.” But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth five minutes of your time, particularly considering it’s both an audio mash-up (courtesy of DJ Earworm) and a video mash-up (courtesy of Instamatic). Furthermore, the original Radiohead video actually isn’t by Radiohead at all. It’s by Frenchman Clemont Picon—the a winner of a contest hosted by Aniboom (the YouTube of the animation world) to select the best animated vidoes for a handful of In Rainbows tracks, including “Reckoner.” Thom and Co. liked Picon’s clip so much they decided to make it the official one.

All in all, though, the video splice is a bit of let down. The Kanye video (which recently premiered on Ellen) is an odd mash-up in its own right: Kanye broods in his immaculately white condo (the classic R&B mis-en-scene) while angry African tribesmen bum-rush the screen. Dumping all that randomness on top of Picon’s elegant little cartoon—featuring square trees, exploding metropolises, and other images of post-millennial angst—just seems well, random… which may be the point.

We’re definitely fans of the audio mash-up, though. By essentially making Radiohead the backing band for Kanye’s vocal, DJ Earworm proves once again how it’s often the simplest tunes that provide the necessary flexibility for successful surgeries like these. (See also the “Reckoner” remix project.) Though here in particular, it’s eerie how perfectly the rollicking percussion opeing “Reckoner” resembles the tribal beats that slam through “Lockdown”‘s chorus, or how comfortably Thom’s three-chord acoustic guitar sits under Kanye’s auto-tuned vocals. Which reminds us… Kanye’s immeasurable ego aside, “Love Lockdown” is a pretty good tune. Leave it to Radiohead, I suppose, to bring us around to other people’s music.
And speaking of Radiohead, Thom just lent his voice to the new Bjork track, “Nattura”—the sales of which all go to benefit Iceland’s conveniently-titled Nattura environmental initiative. Also featured is Brian Chippendale (of Lightening Bolt fame) who’s apocalyptic drumming is the highlight of the show.