Radio Head: A Brief Rundown Of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Music Videos

Sixteen clips and a trip to India flesh out the iconic filmmaker's melodic body of short work.

Phantom Thread is in theaters now! Get your tickets here

Though he hails from what's often casually referred to as the "video store generation" of American filmmakers - a class that includes actual former video store clerk, Quentin Tarantino - it’s only fitting that writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom ThreadBoogie Nights) teamed with a gaggle of iconoclastic rebels during his brief but memorable foray into crafting music clips. However, separating his videos from his feature career is not only downright impossible - it's probably foolish to even try. Not only do these shorts contain all the hallmarks of his features - from technically-daring Steadicam shots, to the long take extreme close-ups on faces - they also act as a training ground for him to hone his visual techniques before applying them to a pure narrative form, usually while borrowing talent from his big screen works. 

From Michael Penn's "Try", to Aimee Mann's "Save Me", to Jon Brion's "Here We Go", these videos sometimes act as extensions of his narratives, or practically become adverts for their ticket sales. Over twenty-plus years, the filmmaker would go on to collaborate with Fiona Apple - whom he dated for an extended period - Joanna Newsom (who narrated Inherent Vice), and Radiohead multiple times (one assumes because Jonny Greenwood became his consummate composer from There Will Be Blood on). Just like his movies, PTA's video works were something like a "family affair", where he brought those he loved to make art with together, if only for a few fleeting minutes of wonderful, contained combos of music and motion pictures.

Then there's Junun - Anderson's austere but stylishly respectful hour-long documentary - which chronicles Western songsmen Jonny Greenwood and Nigel Godrich (producer and guitarist from Radiohead, respectfully) and Israeli composer-singer Shye Ben Tzur, as they record an album with some of India's finest performers. There’s a tiny bit of travelogue tossed in - background info showcasing the city below and the meat-hungry birds above (utilizing rather impressive drone photography) - but the main focus is on the act of rhythmic creation itself. All in all, Junun is a mix of Godard's Sympathy for the Devil and Wenders' Buena Vista Social Club, immersing you in the performers' space as an unintended observer. 

Over this past weekend, Anderson's latest clip - for the sister collective HAIM - dropped, and to celebrate, we thought it'd be cool to toss together a collection of PTA's music video work. Think of it as a little gallery (or maybe a rabbit hole), where you can get lost for a bit, taking a crash course in how the auteur's style evolved over time, while his great taste in music remained the same.  


"Try" - Michael Penn, 1997

"Across the Universe" - Fiona Apple, 1998

"Fast As You Can" - Fiona Apple, 1999

"Save Me" - Aimee Mann, 1999 

"Limp" - Fiona Apple, 2000 

"Paper Bag" - Fiona Apple, 2000 

"Here We Go" - Jon Brion, 2002

"Hot Knife" - Fiona Apple, 2013 

"Sapokanikan" - Joanna Newsome, 2015

"Divers" - Joanna Newsome, 2015 

"Junjun" - Jonny Greenwood, Shye Ben Tzur & The Rajastan Express, 2015

"Daydreaming" - Radiohead, 2016 

"Present Tense" - Radiohead, 2016 

"Right Now" - HAIM, 2017 

"Little of Your Love" - HAIM, 2017 

"Valentine" - HAIM, 2017 

"Night So Long" - HAIM, 2018 


Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread is in theaters now. Get your tickets here