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Exit Music (For A Film): At The Movies With Radiohead

We lost our milkshake over this one.
We lost our milkshake over this one.

While they have notoriously barred the use of their songs in advertising campaigns and initially resisted selling their music on iTunes, Radiohead has been more than willing to lend their vast brooding catalog to filmmakers, exposing mainstream culture to what might have otherwise remained a marginally popular band.

At every concert we've attended someone in the crowd has shouted some variation of, "Hey! It's the song from that movie!", and we expect Saturday's Toyota Center performance will be no exception.

Rocks Off has listed a few of our favorites from the most often-cited examples below. And yes, we said favorites -- that means In Rainbows' "15 Step" in the closing credits of Twilight has purposefully been omitted. Ditto for "High and Dry" in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

"Creep," The Social Network theatrical trailer (2010): Mark Zuckerberg was only eight years old when Radiohead's debut single hit the airwaves in 1992, but some 20 years later "Creep" -- performed here by Flemish choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers -- would serve as ideal theme music for the shallow motives and shrewd methods behind the inception of his social-media empire. The track is also a fitting anthem for Facebook itself: A sort of highlight reel for life, with more than a billion members presenting only the most flattering photos and status updates -- perfect bodies and perfect souls -- in the hope that someone will notice how very (fucking) special they are.

"Everything In Its Right Place," Vanilla Sky (2001): The artificiality of perceived perfection, a recurring thread in Radiohead songs, is represented with the use of "Everything in Its Right Place" in the opening scene of Cameron Crowe's similarly-themed 2001 sci-fi thriller. The lyrics assure us repeatedly that everything is just as it should be and the character on screen leads a charmed and enviable existence, but the cool, detached electronic tones and rising digital interference suggest a flimsier manufactured illusion. That, and the fact that Tom Cruise starts running like a maniac down an empty street in New York City.

"High and Dry," 50/50 27-year-old is diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer, then learns live-in girlfriend is sleeping with some art dude who looks like Jesus. In such situations, only Bends-era Radiohead will do.

 

"Talk Show Host," William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996): This song is almost as hot as young Leo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's modern interpretation of the Shakespeare classic (1996). But deeming any Radiohead song sexy almost always requires our own neurotic fascination with lyrics be set aside, as theirs tend to range from disturbing to downright absurd. "Talk Show Host" just so happens to include a personal favorite: "You want me? Well fucking come on and find me/ I'll be waiting with a gun and a pack of sandwiches." Say what now?

"Exit Music (for a Film)", William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996): In the commentary on the DVD, director Baz Luhrmann calls "Exit Music (for a Film)", featured in the closing credits, one of the greatest film exit songs ever written. Although inspired by Shakespeare's timeless tragedy and written specifically for the 1996 adaptation, front man Thom Yorke requested the song not be included on either version of the soundtrack, saving it instead for OK Computer (1997), Radiohead's most critically and commercially successful album.

Original Music by Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood (2007): Yorke may be the face of Radiohead, but Greenwood's astounding score to Paul Thomas Anderson's acclaimed 2007 film proved that he is by no means solely responsible for the emotional depth and creativity of the band's sound.

At times both achingly beautiful ("Prospectors Quartet") and terrifying ("There Will Be Blood"), the soundtrack is an aural interpretation of a soulless man monstrously corrupted by wealth and power. On the switch from electric guitars and synthesizers to an 80-piece orchestra comprised entirely of 19th-century instruments, Greenwood told Entertainment Weekly, "You can just do things with the classical orchestra that do unsettle you, that are sort of slightly wrong, that have some kind of undercurrent that's slightly sinister."

"Lucky," Six Feet Under Season 4, Episode 3 (2004): OK, so it's not film per se, but according to the HBO ad slogan, it's not TV either. It may seem a little weak when viewed out of context eight years later, but this scene where the Fisher clan decides to crank up "Lucky" and burn a sizable pile of garage sale remnants (and painful memories of the past) right there in the driveway of their suburban L.A. neighborhood was directly responsible for a personal revival of OK Computer obsession. Alan Ball is the shit.

8 p.m. Saturday at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. Sold out.


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