“The Secret Rhythm Behind Radiohead’s ‘Videotape’” — Vox Pop: EARWORM Premiere

Vox Pop: EARWORM Premiere

I had become obsessed with one of the craziest songs I’d ever heard.

I listened to it on repeat in the car, at the gym, while grocery shopping. Even when I wasn’t listening to it, I thought about it. I played it on the piano, I played it on guitar. I sang, I hummed. I sequenced its 808 drum samples, recreated its synth bass recipe. I superimposed a metronome over it so I could learn how to count it. And I still have some difficulty counting it.

I sought out live performances. 2006 Hammersmith Apollo. 2012 Kindl-Bühne Wuhlheide. The 2005 solo performance, From the Basement. The drummer-less Scotch Mist version. The Mephisto Mix. Each version and its various idiosyncracies were burned into my brain. I shook my head dismay when I saw misguided attempts by cover bands; there was just too much going on in this song.

2012 Kindl-Bühne Wuhlheide, originally uploaded by YouTube user Ollie Fabeck (since removed). Look at Colin’s face! He’s reacting to Clive playing a hi-hat on Beat 1 (or what much of the audience thinks is Beat 1), but we know now that Clive was playing on the “& of 4,” and that this delighted Colin.

I read the message boards. AtEase. Mortigi Tempo. /r/radiohead. The Wikia discussion page. I was amused at the fervent claims that the 2006 version was the best, and enthralled by the controversy over the syncopation that remained in the album version… or did it?

I read more interviews and quotes, and dug even deeper. Phil couldn’t find Beat 1? Thom was inspired by a post-rave trance track? Colin kept dancing in their live performances during a slow song? It was bewildering, exciting, and frustrating. I was on the edge of a huge abyss… and it felt like there were only a handful of people discussing the intentionally buried treasure. You might even say it was purposely hidden.

It all culminated when I posted my cover, along with a video essay on “The Hidden Syncopation of Radiohead’s ‘Videotape,’” and hours, weeks, months, and years of thinking and playing and talking about this simple, yet utterly mindblowing song finally found their outlet.

Amazing responses followed.

But I never anticipated a response like this next one.

An amazing storyteller and illustrator behind awesome videos like this approached me because, apparently, she too had connected with my story.

The creator behind videos like this one, Estelle Caswell!

Estelle (who is now being nominated for four Emmys) emailed me a few months ago and had this crazy idea to re-craft this story centered on two things: what the hell was going on in this song musically, and why it was so cool to me. I was on board immediately. Call it the music appreciation train, the theory train, or whatever you like. But she was passionate that there were other viewers out there who needed to hear more of the insights behind some of the best music out there today. And I am proud to say that I’m featured in the first episode of this upcoming series.

Now a YouTube channel with two million subscribers will be exposed to this awesome concept buried deep within one of my favorite songs, along with my face and voice. Uh. Yikes. Woo.

Anyhow, it’s been such a crazy journey. Thank you for being here and supporting me along the way.

Now go watch it! And when you’re hungry for more…

Dive deeper into the Hidden Syncopation.

See the rhythm breakdown I created for Vox:

Can you think of any other songs that use Hidden Syncopation? Hint: Radiohead has at least two more from The King of Limbs era…

Hear it for yourself.

I put everything I had into this cover. Three live drum tracks, piano, synth bass, vocals, guitars, claps, and some live 808-style sequencing and tweaking. But while you were hearing one thing, I was listening to another. I was listening to my own metronome track in my earpiece, just like Thom Yorke has in his ears when performing this song live.

Um… what?

Confused about rhythm? Don’t despair. My upcoming Rhythm Module will cover rhythm in depth; it’s going to be awesome.

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