The Best Singles of 2016, #11


11. Radiohead, “Burn the Witch”

I haven’t been this riveted by a Radiohead song since “Pyramid Song” 15 years ago. This is the kind of daring rock music the band excels at, a slow-burning track that essentially puts Thom Yorke against a backdrop of strings that saw away (col legno battuto, according to Wikipedia) maniacally like the Kronos Quartet. Clearly a result of Johnny Greenwood’s experimentation with scoring feature films, it creates a heightened sense of tension, and Yorke’s nervous drawl (“This is a low flying panic attack”) only makes it creepier. Is it about the refugee crisis in Europe? Anti-Muslim sentiment? Or just witches? However you want to interpret it, this is three and a half minutes that pack an absolute wallop.