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Anyone looking for evidence of Radiohead’s continuing influence on the music video only needs to join the 20 million people worldwide who have watched director Garth Jennings’ Lotus Flower clip.
And for further proof, it’s worth checking out the countless parodies and tributes based around the simple black-and-white concept involving a bowler-hatted Thom Yorke dancing jerkily to the King Of Limbs track. Along the way are dancing grandfathers, toddlers, and even parodies of Yorke blasting Justin Bieber to the ground, smashing dead fish against a wall and playing tennis.
This continued admiration for the work of the Oxford five-piece perhaps explains why BUG Radiohead has been the most successful event in the music video night’s five-year history – filling the 1,600-capacity Odeon Leicester Square on its first outing.
Now, following their sold-out Brighton debut as part of this year’s Festival, BUG is returning to the city with this Radiohead special featuring some of the band’s most iconic videos from the past 20 years.
“They have been making amazing videos since the mid-1990s, when they released The Bends album,” says BUG’s creative director, David Knight. “Since then they have always invested a lot of thought into the videos and trust in the directors. They are always a great band for directors to work with because they allow them to express themselves.”
It is creative innovation and originality that is at the heart of BUG. The night – which has a regular slot at London’s BFI on the Southbank every two months – showcases the best in music video from around the world on the big screen, which might not be shown on digital TV, specialising in low and no-budget creations.
“Because of YouTube and the availability of digital cameras and editing systems people can get into making films and music videos at a much lower cost,” says Knight, who used to write for an industry music video magazine before taking on BUG in 2007.
“The entry level has become virtually no cost beyond buying a reasonably-priced camera that shoots HD video. It has meant everything has become more democratic as to who makes the videos and films.”
BUG has always had the subtitle of “the evolution of music video”, with the remit for the curators to source the most creative music videos they can.
Added into the mix is the show’s presenter, Adam Buxton, who rose to fame as half of Channel Four comedy team Adam And Joe.
“He is a director himself who made shows for Channel Four,” says Knight. “He has a real appreciation of music video as an art form and is friends with a lot of interesting video directors and bands.”
Buxton was also behind some of the night’s signature moments, ranging from his hilarious dissections of YouTube comment boards to the temperamental laptop hosting the whole event.
“He does all his own research in finding the comments,” says Knight. “It has become a big thing in BUG – he has discovered this rich seam of content.”
BUG has been going from strength to strength, even being given its own eight-part series on Sky Atlantic this summer, allowing Buxton to make his own videos for the catchy pop ditties he writes as part of the show.
But at its heart is the video, with Knight being flooded with contributions from music contacts and directors to cull each show from.
The idea for focusing on one band for the entirety of a show came when Bristol trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack curated the Meltdown Festival at the Southbank back in 2008.
“We mainly focus on artists who have a fantastic collection of music videos,” says Knight, who adds that previous subjects have included Moby, Bjork, UNKLE, Röyksopp and even Brighton’s own Fatboy Slim.
“A lot of them started in the 1990s, when there was MTV, big budgets and a whole generation of directors coming through, such as Spike Jonze [director of mainstream movies Where The Wild Things Are and Being John Malkovich], Jonathan Glazer [Sexy Beast] and Garth Jennings [Son Of Rambow and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy]. It was a golden age of talent.”
For the Fatboy Slim special, Norman Cook was unable to make the show, so became a presence on Skype for the full hour and a half interacting with the videos being shown.
Previous BUG Radiohead shows have seen members of the band make personal appearances to discuss the making of the videos – including brothers Jonny and Colin Greenwood and Ed O’Brien.
With Radiohead on tour in Australia at present, the team behind BUG has just announced that long-time producer Nigel Godrich will be Thursday’s special guest to be interviewed by Adam Buxton.
Buxton himself helped the band create some short films as part of the band’s 2007 In Rainbows project, which saw them release their seventh studio album in a pay-what-you-want format online before the physical release.
“A lot of material was created out of that and will feature in the show,” says Knight, who adds there are no plans to create a regular BUG slot in Brighton as yet.
“Some of it even big Radiohead fans won’t have seen anywhere, such as films of the band in the studio. People can expect classic videos and lots of rarities, all with the BUG take on it.”
- BUG Radiohead is at Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Church Street, on Thursday, November 22. Starts 8pm, tickets £16/£14. Call 01273 709709
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