Radiohead are back from the internet dead - and Instagram is where the action is
How long does it take to erase yourself from the internet? Till two days ago, we wouldn't have been able to offer an estimate, but now - thanks to Radiohead - we can.
24 hours is all it took for the iconic band to wipe itself metaphorically off the face of the internet, taking social media by shock.
And then, barely a full day later, they did it again - this time dropping a 15-second stop-motion animation of a chirping bird onto the internet, in what is being called a prelude to their upcoming ninth studio album.
What's truly weird, though? Where chirping bird debuted. Not YouTube. Or SoundCloud. Or even Facebook. Or Twitter.
The answer to the question is one of social media's cult favourites, Instagram.
But first, let's backtrack a bit. Over the weekend, the internet saw a ticking bomb explode. Thom Yorke and his fellow Radiohead band members went cold turkey. From full to empty. From filled with colour to just white. One by one they hit the delete button. From Tweets to Facebook posts to profile pictures, everything went away, including their website.
Poof. Radiohead was no more.
Back in January, Radiohead registered two new companies, Dawn Chorus LLP and Dawnchoruss LTD, hinting that a new album was on its way. They've done this before, with their last two albums - Xurbia Xendless Ltd. And before releasing In Rainbows in 2007, and Ticker Tape Ltd for 2011's The King of Limbs.
With the band touring later this month, it's clear the album drop is imminent. Some fans even received cards in the mail that had the band's logo and these words, "Sing the song of sixpence that goes 'Burn the witch'."
In fact, Radiohead have now debuted "Burn the Witch" on none other than YouTube.
Subsequently, the song became available on Spotify, Tidal, and iTunes. If it wasn't Radiohead, then none of this would have mattered. Given the fact that Thom Yorke compared YouTube and its parent company Google to Nazi Germany, means this is important. He also called Spotify, "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse".
Just prior to the release of the song, Radiohead had debuted one more video on Instagram and
its anyones guess as to what direction the band is headed in:
It being Radiohead, this isn't unusual. When they dropped their previous album, King of Limbs (does anyone 'release' an album anymore?), Yorke himself was among those handing out Radiohead-themed newspapers at record stores. Before that, In Rainbows was distributed online in the initial days. Fans were invited to pay what they wanted for the songs and the album. And even Yorke's most recent project, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, was distributed via download service BitTorrent. As Silvia Killingsworth over at The Awl
says, "Deleting yourself from the Internet is the oldest look-at-me trick in the book"
Meanwhile Josh Horwitz from Quartz proved that you can forget social media but social media will never forget you.
He discovered that the band had forgotten it had a Myspace account: "Radiohead's internet disappearing act is incomplete, however. The band's Myspace page still has photos and events, as well as over 600,000 "connections." It is unclear whether this is on purpose, or the band just forgot about it."
And of course, with a new album at stake and a dramatic stage being set for the album drop, the internet was always going to go a bit crazy.
what if the new episode of game of thrones is just the new radiohead album?— HannahSilkChampagne (@hsilkchampagne) May 1, 2016
Radiohead's latest album to be released exclusively on the feeling of existential dread that resides within us all.— Colin Jones (@colinjones) May 1, 2016
Radiohead has already released their new album. You heard it and you thought it was great.— Sam Adams (@SamuelAAdams) May 3, 2016
THIS IS THE GREATEST SONG I’VE EVER HEARD RADIOHEAD IS BACK, BABY!!!! https://t.co/bNrT3mpZ2y— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) May 3, 2016
I have exactly zero feelings about Radiohead and I am here to let you know that is totally ok— jes skolnik (@modernistwitch) May 2, 2016
Turns out Radiohead's entire internet presence disappeared due to an out-of-date Wordpress carousel plugin.— Brad Frost (@brad_frost) May 2, 2016
But I thought @radiohead said there would be no surprises. 🙃— Lang Leav (@langleav) May 2, 2016
Maybe Radiohead are going to erase their entire catalogue except for "Creep," and then start over again.— Brandon Stosuy (@brandonstosuy) May 2, 2016
Maybe Radiohead are just taking the 90s revival to its logical conclusion: no web presence, music on CD or vinyl you need to pay to hear.— Brandon Stosuy (@brandonstosuy) May 2, 2016
Saving the best for last:
Radiohead can erase their internet presence but they can never erase this gif of Thom Yorke dancing with a bear pic.twitter.com/cylxrJg2k2— Jen Lewis (@thisjenlewis) May 1, 2016
Edited by Payal Puri