Radiohead has released an official music video for the longtime fan-favorite song “Lift,” a studio of version of which was finally released on the “OKNOTOK” 20th anniversary release for “OK Computer.” The band had previously released videos for the other two unreleased tracks of the time, “I Promise” and “Man of War.”
The video is directed by Oscar Hudson, who has previously worked with Radiohead in creating a 30-second video for a snippet of the band’s 2016 A Moon Shaped Pool.
A shabby and ordinary-looking Thom Yorke is seen traveling down to the first floor to throw out a trash bag. Along the way he is accosted by various lift companions like a huddle of bald-headed businessmen and a group of girls wanting a photo, all leading up to the brain-melting payoff as Yorke reaches his destination.
The video, like the song, is vintage Radiohead and clearly influenced by the aesthetic of their other earlier unsettling and thought-provoking videos like 1995’s “Just” and 1997’s “Karma Police.” This was perhaps intentional, as director Hudson also included various references and Easter eggs for fans.
Hudson indicated as much in a recent interview with Pitchfork. “..wanted to try to walk a line with this video, somewhere between not looking back too much,” he said. “But also–you can’t ignore the history of the song.”
In this video there is a definite feel of brooding humor and encroaching paranoia from the modern urban landscape (especially as Yorke gets painted into a corner by a janitor with a mop). It’s something that the Radiohead of the song’s era clearly held as a standard theme and what established them as an innovative band. In addition, characters and imagery from other classic Radiohead videos go past, enough to warrant curiosity for the hardcore fans eager to find all of the hidden references, but not too much that it wallows in a “greatest hits” type of nostalgia.