In 1997, while issuing the album OK Computer, Radiohead decided to leave out Lift, a song very popular with their audience, for that very reason. They simply didn’t want to get too popular with that kind of sound (too little, too late).
Two decades later, for the 20th Anniversary reissue of the album OKNOTOK, the band finally reissued the song, officially as part of an album this time.
The song’s light, breezy sound is heavily reminiscent of 1990s Radiohead, even as it maintains the paranoia and dreariness of OK Computer. The alienation and melancholia are especially apparent in the new music video (above) which was released on Tuesday. Shot by Oscar Hudson, the video for Lift is literally set in a lift.
The video shows Thom Yorke dressed in an overcoat, holding two plastic bags, and getting inside a lift on the 18th floor. He’s followed into the lift by a woman and a young girl, who turnout to be his real-life girlfriend, Dajana Roncione, and his daughter, Agnes. Both get off on the 17th floor, but only after, much to Thom’s indignation, the girl presses nearly all the buttons in the lift. Thus begins Thom’s surreal journey as he’s stuck in that never-ending elevator ride down.
The video plays out like the inverse of Daydreaming (video below), in which Thom walks through a series of doors with different scenarios and people. People of various ages and gender come and go, yet Thom stays “stuck in a lift”.
For Radiohead fans, the video is essentially a large basket filled with Easter Eggs, as it is littered with multiple references to older Radiohead tracks and videos, such as Paranoid Android, Karma Police, Fake Plastic Trees, There There and Numbers (amongst others). At one point, the number on the lift when it is at the first floor changes from 01 to OK – a reference to the fact that OK Computer’s working title was Ones and Zeroes.
Hudson, who also shot a vignette for Radiohead’s Numbers, told Pitchfork, “I wanted there to be some things to dig up in there, but I also wanted it to be a film in its own right. I want people to do their own thinking, too.”
He added that he took inspiration from a documentary called Lift by Mar Isaacs, which had a similar aesthetic and theme.
The ending offers a typical Radiohead-like twist.
“This is the place
Sit down, you’re safe now
You’ve been stuck in a lift
We’ve been trying to reach you, Thom
This is the place
It won’t hurt ever again
Today is the first day
Of the rest of your days
So lighten up, squirt.”