Thom Yorke, Master of Metaphor, Compares YouTube to Nazi Germany

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Photo: MARC TIRL/Corbis

Thom Yorke has outdone himself with this one. Off the heels of YouTube launching its first-ever music app, the Radiohead front man has taken his knack for metaphor as a means to express his disdain for streaming services to new heights. As you may recall, three years ago, he compared Spotify to “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse,” and in a new interview with the Italian journal La Repubblica, he lashed his barbed-wire tongue at Google, comparing the tech leviathan’s video tool to Hitler’s Nazi Germany during the second world war because, you know, they both "seized art."

"I don’t have the solution to these problems. I only know that they’re making money with the work of loads of artists who don’t get any benefit from it. People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free. It’s not true. The creators of services make money – Google, YouTube. A huge amount of money, by trawling, like in the sea – they take everything there is. ‘Oh, sorry, was that yours? Now it’s ours. No, no, we’re joking – it’s still yours’. They’ve seized control of it — it’s like what the Nazis did during the second world war. Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during the war, even the English — stealing the art of other countries. What difference is there?"

He’s mostly right, of course. Artists are paid abysmally through music streaming, but it’s not entirely the fault of Google, Spotify, or Apple. The labels are to blame as well, and until everyone is willing to be more transparent about how that 70 percent is divided among “rightsholders,” it will continue to be a problem. (So, if Google is Hitler, does that make the major labels Goebbels, or was this metaphor out of hand before it even got started?)

No word in the interview about the next Radiohead album, but if you haven’t already, I suggest you check out Jonny Greenwood’s excellent new collab with Shye Ben Tzur, the Rajasthan Express, and P. T. Anderson, Junun, in the meantime.