The Best Uses of Radiohead Songs in Movies or TV

Radiohead is a hugely successful English rock band that was formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, and Philip Selway. They released their debut album ‘Pablo Honey’ and their debut single ‘Creep’ in 1992. By 2011, this band had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and they have released nine albums to date. Many of their songs have been used in television series and films. The use of their tracks has helped to deliver the plot or to connect the audience emotionally with the storyline. Here are five of the best uses of Radiohead’s music on screen.

5. Six Feet Under- Lucky

While most of the best examples of the use of Radiohead tracks come from films, their music has also been widely used in television and one of the greatest examples of this comes in a scene in the television series ‘Six Feet Under’. Radiohead’s track ‘Lucky’ featured in a moving episode in season four of the series. Character Ruth Fished is coming to terms with the death of her husband and decides to clear out his possessions by holding a yard sale. When the sale is unsuccessful, she dramatically declares that they should just burn it all. The family gathers round to watch her husband’s belongings burning in the yard with Radiohead’s ‘Lucky’ playing in the background. It was one of the most emotional moments of the series.

4. Twilight- 15 Step

A Radiohead track is also used as the first of three songs in the end credits of the 2008 romantic fantasy film ‘Twilight’, which is based on the novel of the same name by Stephanie Meyer. It was adapted into a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and starred Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the lead roles. Radiohead’s track ’15 Step’ plays in the background of an emotional black and white montage scene that plays during the end credits and features some of the most iconic moments from the film. Strangely, ’15 Step’ is the only one of the three songs used in the credits that is not included in the soundtrack that was released.

3. 50/50- High and Dry

’50/50’ is a comedy-drama film about a young man’s life journey as he battles with cancer. It was written by Will Reiser, directed by Jonathan Levine, and starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Seth Rogers, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston. The Radiohead track ‘High and Dry’ is played when the main character first receives the news that he has cancer. It continues playing as he travels home on the bus reflecting the news and when he arrives home to break his terrible news to his friend and girlfriend. This track is one of Radiohead’s more mainstream songs and is used well in this film as it connects the audience to the situation.

2. Romeo + Juliet- Exit Music (For a Film)

Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (For a Film) is probably one of the band’s most used tracks for film and television. Its best use was in ‘Romeo + Juliet’, which was Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy. One of the reasons that it was so great that ‘Exit Music (For a Film) was used in this film was that Thom Yorke was originally inspired to write the song after watching the 1968 version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. ‘Romeo + Juliet’ also featured the Radiohead track ‘Talk Show Host’.

1. Vanilla Sky- Everything In Its Right Place

Arguably the best use of a Radiohead track in a film was ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ in the 2001 science fiction psychological thriller ‘Vanilla Sky’. This film was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and is an adaptation of the 1997 Spanish film ‘Open Your Eyes’. Tom Cruise starred opposite Penelope Cruz, who reprised her role from the original film. ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ was rather ironically used in the opening scene of the movie while Tom Cruise’s mogul character is leisurely going about his business. The song is in direct contrast with the strange reality that is about to unspool for him.


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