Burn the Witch: A New Song Thirteen Years in the Making
It’s been a minute since we last heard something new from Radiohead. The band’s last full-length album, The King of Limbs, released in 2011, but yesterday on May 3, 2016 the band released a new single titled “Burn the Witch.” Or is it new? For at least thirteen years the British alternative rockers have been teasing fans with hints of a new song called “Burn the Witch,” but yesterday the song was finally revealed on the band’s YouTube channel, Spotify account, and other digital marketplaces to hungry fans.
Radiohead spread Inklings of “Burn the Witch” in 2003 when the song’s title appeared on the cover artwork of Hail to the Thief, reports one Radiohead fan website. This, of course, means the song was in development as early as 2002 when the cover artwork for Hail to the Thief was painted by Stanley Donwood, Radiohead’s longtime album cover artist and college friend of frontman Thom Yorke. According to a 2006 article published in The Guardian, Donwood’s main concept for the album artwork came from various roadside advertisements in Los Angeles, though he did have some additional input from a mysterious collaborator called “Dr. Tchock,” a name many believe is a pseudonym for Thom Yorke.
Over the next five or so years, the band released more teasers of the single, posting excerpts of lyrics, short blog updates from Thom York regarding the status of the song, and even playing snippets of the intro at a few live shows. After 2008, however, it seemed that the trail had gone cold– until May 1, 2016, that is.
Just three days ago on May 1st, fans were shocked to discover that Radiohead had effectively erased their Internet presence. The band’s website was whited out, and all posts from the band’s social media accounts were deleted, including posts on Thom Yorke’s accounts. On Saturday, April 30 some fans reportedly received bizarre leaflets in the mail featuring artwork, the Radiohead logo, and the cryptic message, “Sing the song of sixpence that goes ‘Burn the Witch.’ We know where you live,” Billboard reported on May 1. While many suspected an imminent announcement, for the time being it would seem that Radiohead had dropped off the face of the earth.
Finally, on May 3, the culmination of thirteen years of waiting resulted in a claymation music video posted to Radiohead’s official YouTube channel featuring the single “Burn the Witch.” Rumors are spreading about a ninth studio album to be released later this year, but so far nothing is confirmed.
Check out the music video for Radiohead’s new single, “Burn the Witch” below.