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"Lotus Flower" is a song by the English rock band Radiohead, released on their eighth studio album, The King of Limbs (2011). It features singer Thom Yorke's falsetto over syncopated beats and a synthesiser bassline. Its music video, featuring Yorke's erratic dancing, attracted millions of views and spawned an internet meme.

"Lotus Flower"
Radiohead - Lotus Flower cover art.png
Promotional single by Radiohead
from the album The King of Limbs
Released16 February 2011 (2011-02-16)
Recorded2009–2010 in Los Angeles, California
Producer(s)Nigel Godrich
Music video
"Lotus Flower" on YouTube

Though it was not released as a commercial single, "Lotus Flower" entered charts including the UK Singles Chart, the US Alternative Songs chart, and the Billboard Japan Hot 100. It received positive reviews and was nominated for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Music Video at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and recordingEdit

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke debuted a solo version of "Lotus Flower" at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on 2 October 2009, while on tour with his band Atoms for Peace.[1]

Like the rest of The King of Limbs, the song was possibly recorded in the house of actress Drew Barrymore.[2] On 24 January 2010, Radiohead suspended recording to perform at the Henry Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, to raise funds for Oxfam responding to the 2010 Haiti earthquake; at the show, Yorke performed "Lotus Flower" alone on acoustic guitar.[3] The show was released free online in December 2010 as Radiohead for Haiti.[3]


According to the NME, "Lotus Flower" combines the electronic instrumentation of Radiohead's fourth album Kid A (2000) with the "sonic warmth" of their seventh album In Rainbows (2007).[4] The song features Yorke's "Prince-like"[5] falsetto over syncopated beats and a "propulsive" synthesised bass line.[6][7][8] Though the main beat is in common time, the handclaps are in quintuple meter, creating a metric dissonance.[9]

"Lotus Flower" has a more traditional song structure than other songs on The King of Limbs.[10] Luke Lewis of the NME described it as "probably the only song on The King of Limbs with an actual chorus". Lewis speculated that the lyrics are about transcendence, self-effacement, and "the magic of losing yourself in music and the senses".[4][6]


"Lotus Flower" was released on Radiohead's eighth studio album, The King of Limbs (2011).[11] Though it was not released as a commercial single, it entered charts including the UK Singles Chart, the US Alternative Songs chart, and the Billboard Japan Hot 100.

Remixes of "Lotus Flower" by various artists were released later that year and compiled on the remix album TKOL RMX 1234567.[12]


Billboard[13] and The New York Times praised "Lotus Flower" as the best track on The King of Limbs.[14] The A.V. Club described it as "a sensually slinky come-on that's one remix away from being a dance-floor favourite".[15] The Independent said it was "not exactly a singalong anthem" but "just blank and cryptic enough to sustain various interpretations".[16] The NME called it "subtle but powerful",[6] and the Austin Chronicle called it "a commanding piece of modern electro-pop".[17] It was nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.[18]

Music videoEdit

Garth Jennings directed the "Lotus Flower" music video.

Radiohead released a music video for "Lotus Flower" on their YouTube channel on February 18, 2011.[11] It was directed by Garth Jennings and choreographed by Wayne McGregor, and features black-and-white footage of Yorke dancing erratically.[19] Yorke said of the video:[20]

I’m never confident about how I look, but I’m always into being shocking and visually interesting ... I was deeply uncomfortable with the "Lotus Flower" video. I did the whole thing, it was such a crack, and then they showed me the rushes the next day and I was like, "This ain't going out." It was like paparazzi footage of me naked or something. It was fucked up. But if it's a risk that’s probably a good thing.

By 2013, the video had been viewed over 20 million times.[20] It sparked the "Dancing Thom Yorke" internet meme, whereby people replaced the video's audio or edited the visuals,[21] and led to the hashtag "#thomdance" trending on Twitter.[22] Yorke said about the response, "It's a massive kick. That's what everybody wants. If it's something you've worked at and it goes over the edge like that then that's great."[20]

IndieWire wrote that Jennings had turned Yorke's "spastic" dancing into art that it was "bizarrely compelling ... with Yorke's flailing, curiously spellbinding limbs as the main attraction".[23] Metro praised Yorke's performance, writing that "somehow, even though he seems to be a mass of tangled limbs in the grip of an attack of some sort, it works", but criticised the video set as "sparse to say the least".[24] The video was nominated for Best Music Video at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.[18]

Track listingEdit

Promotional CD-R[25]
1."Lotus Flower" (Radio edit) 
2."Lotus Flower" (Album version) 

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (2011) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[26] 15
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[27] 16
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[28] 53
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company)[29] 165
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[30] 20
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[31] 33
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[32] 41


  1. ^ "Thom Yorke @ Echoplex, Los Angeles 10/2/09". Stereogum. 3 October 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  2. ^ Sean Michaels (23 March 2011). "Did Radiohead record King of Limbs at Drew Barrymore's house?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Radiohead Rock For Haiti at Small Los Angeles Benefit Show". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'Lotus Flower' - What Do You Think?". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  5. ^ Jason Gregory (18 February 2012). "Radiohead, 'The King Of Limbs' - First Review". Gigwise. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Luke Lewis (18 February 2012). "Radiohead,'The King of Limbs' - First Listen". NME. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  7. ^ Andy Gill (19 February 2012). "First Listen: The King of Limbs". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  8. ^ Arnold Pan (21 February 2011). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  9. ^ Osborn, Brad (2014). ""Kid Algebra: Radiohead's Euclidean and Maximally Even Rhythms"" (PDF). Perspectives of New Music. 52: 97.
  10. ^ Mark Pytlik (24 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  11. ^ a b Perpetua, Matthew (18 February 2011). "Radiohead Release New Album 'The King of Limbs' One Day Early". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  12. ^ O'Neal, Sean (6 June 2011). "Radiohead to repackage The King of Limbs again as a vinyl remix series". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  13. ^ Jillian Mapes (22 February 2011). "Radiohead, "The King of Limbs"". Billboard. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  14. ^ Nate Chinen (29 September 2011). "Anticorporate Music Personified, In Close-Up, on an Intimate Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  15. ^ Steven Hyden (22 February 2012). "Radiohead: The King of Limbs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  16. ^ Simon Price (20 February 2011). "Radiohead, The King of Limbs (Ticker Tape/XL)". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  17. ^ Powell, Austin (4 March 2011). "Review: Radiohead - The King of Limbs (XL / TBD)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Nominees and Winners". Grammy Awards. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help) Note: reader must define awards year parameter as 2011.
  19. ^ Young, Alex (18 February 2011). "Watch: Radiohead – "Lotus Flower"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  20. ^ a b c Noakes, Tim (12 February 2013). "Splitting atoms with Thom Yorke". Dazed. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  21. ^ Adam Markovitz. "Dancing Thom Yorke meme meets Lady Gaga, Guns N' Roses, 'Black Swan': Which is your favorite?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  22. ^ Mike Diver (18 February 2011). "Review of Radiohead — The King of Limbs". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  23. ^ Kevin Jagernauth (18 February 2011). "Watch: Video For Radiohead's 'Lotus Flower' Turns Thom Yorke's Spastic Dancing Into Art". Indiewire. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  24. ^ Ann Lee (18 February 2012). "Radiohead vs Britney Spears: Music video fight club". Metro. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  25. ^ "Radiohead Lotus Flower UK Promo CD-R". 991. Retrieved 10 April 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  26. ^ " – Radiohead – Lotus Flower" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  27. ^ " – Radiohead – Lotus Flower" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  28. ^ "Radiohead Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  29. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: New Entries Update". Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  30. ^ "Radiohead Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  31. ^ "Radiohead Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  32. ^ "Radiohead Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 9 April 2012.