Monday 30 November 2020

First drown your baritone: Radiohead's video for No Surprises undergoes a remix in the OAE's latest video

Still from OAE's film of Handel's 'Cara Pianta' with James Newby

Whilst I have heard of the band Radiohead, their 1998 single No Surprises is not on my internal play list (my relationship with rock and pop music is patchy at best), so when I read that the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) had made a video parodying Radiohead's video for No Surprises, the information meant nothing to me. Evidently the video is the one where songwriter Thom Yorke is in an astronaut's helmet singing the song and it eventually fills with water and holds his breath [see it on YouTube]. 

Since helping to form Radiohead in 1985, Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards) has gone on to a highly varied career which includes being composer-in-residence with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Cut to the OAE's YouTube channel, and we have baritone James Newby bravely singing in an astronaut's helmet which gradually fills with water, and he holds his breath etc. I have to confess that my first instinct was to time the videos to see whether Yorke or Newby held their breath for longer. Newby isn't singing a Baroque re-mix of No Surprises (shame, perhaps), but instead is singing the final aria from Handel's cantata Apollo e Dafne, 'Cara pianta'. And, I might add singing it very beautifully indeed.

At 6'15, the new video is almost twice the length of the Radiohead video, but it is equally striking. I am still not sure what the new video is for, but it certainly makes for entrancing watching and the end of Apollo e Dafne will never be quite the same again.

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