Radiohead aren't funny. This isn't a potshot at the band themselves or the music they make—it's just a fact, as well as an acknowledgment that not everyone is funny, or has to be. Some artists work best in their own lane, funny or not, and even Radiohead themselves know that they are not funny. "I'd love to tell you a joke, lighten the mood, something like that," frontman Thom Yorke said at the first weekend of this year's Coachella, while his band's set was plagued with dead-serious sound issues. "But this is Radiohead, so fuck it." Again—it's important to know the lane you own.
But: sometimes, Radiohead are funny—if unintentionally so. Around the time of their 2011 release The King of Limbs, they released a music video for album single "Lotus Flower," in which a top-hatted Thom Yorke lip-synched and danced like no one was watching. The video was viewable on the internet, so naturally, it became a meme. And that's exactly what happened this week, too: an enterprising meme-a-holic found some footage of Radiohead performing Hail to the Thief's wild electro-rocker "Myxomatosis" at Berkeley's Greek Theatre last month, and decided the footage could be spiced up with a little dash of Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Daddy Yankee's deathless "Gasolina." It made for a good meme.
"Maybe this will make Radiohead seem fun for a bit," I thought to myself when the Thom Yorke "Gasolina" meme started making its way around the web. (They could use it: Radiohead's most recent album, last year's A Moon Shaped Pool, wasn't exactly a day at the races.) But the internet is weird and full of twists—which I was reminded of when I saw a friend RT the following tweet from a VICELAND social editor that overlays Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina" over a Celine Dion performance:
You see what's happening here? Radiohead are not the meme anymore; "Gasolina" is. Now, there's no Newton's Law of Memes (that I know of), so I don't know how many instances of a meme being proliferated and spun off of makes a meme. But, and this is an objective opinion, the two instances shown here of what will now be known as The "Gasolina" Meme are extremely good. Also, they serve as a reminder that "Gasolina" is a great song, one that exudes an indomitable spirit in every moment of its pulsing insistence.
Lest you think that I'm getting carried away here, I'd actually like to take things one step further: What if "Gasolina" is the song of the summer? Ah, yes, that time-honoured tradition we all know and love—trying to predict the song of the summer. It doesn't get any easier with every passing year, because the barometer for what makes the song of the summer the song of the summer shifts as often as the music industry itself does. Is it the most-streamed song? The song that's on the radio the most often? Do you even listen to the radio anymore? Is it a song that's spiked in popularity due to a YouTube dance craze? Does the song of the summer even have to be a song that came out this year?
That last question is especially relevant to the website you're reading: earlier this year, we proclaimed Mark Morrison's classic "Return of the Mack" as the official song of the summer, despite it being mid-February when we made such a proclamation. What this post presupposes is: Maybe it's not? What if "Gasolina" is exactly the song we need to hear this summer, at a time when [insert banal and unnecessary statement about Trump and America here]? Why does the song of the summer have to be something foisted on us by the record industry to enjoy during a specific period of time adjacent to when the "something" in question was released? Why can't it be "Gasolina"?
These are hard questions with no real answers, I know. Here's two things I'd love to see happen, though: I would love it if, by this time next week, the internet—your timeline, my timeline, and the trend-chasing sites that are constantly trying to find the good shit on our respective timelines – is awash with memes that overlay "Gasolina" atop questionably appropriate performance footage. I want to see the blue lady from The Fifth Element vibing out to "Gasolina." I want to hear "Gasolina" playing over the video to Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." I want to make sure the "Cash Me Ousside" girl is nowhere near "Gasolina," but I would be totally okay with "Shovel Girl" making a strong comeback to the tune of "Gasolina." (Please, though – no videos of the guy getting dragged off the United flight to the tune of "Gasolina." We need to have standards.)
That second thing I'd love to see happen? I want "Gasolina" to be the song of the summer. Maybe it already is.
Larry Fitzmaurice is currently listening to "Return of the Mack." Follow him on Twitter.