This is technically a repost, but for those interested it’s all in one spot.
2.) Kanye West
4.) Britney Spears
5.) Danger Mouse
6.) The Strokes
8.) Lil Wayne
9.) Green Day
10.) Death Cab For Cutie
I’ve gone on record as stating that I don’t really like Radiohead, and I still stand by that statement. With the exception of a few songs here and there, I find the band to be pretentious and boring. I’m sure that I’m going to get flamed by Radiohead fans for suggesting this. However, for as much disdain I have for the band, it’s hard to rule out their significance in the past decade.
Kid A is regarded as a classic now, so it’s kind of hard to look back in retrospect and see how wild and what a risk it was. True, OK Computer was a left-turn from the guitar rock of The Bends and Pablo Honey. But it was nothing compared to the cold electronic atmosphere that permeated the surface of Kid A. Somehow an album without a single track that closely resembled any real songs, managed to not only become a critical favorite, but also a hit. Radiohead managed to do the unthinkable: make avant-garde and experimental music popular. Bowie, Lou Reed, and Kraftwerk had been put out similar sounding albums throughout their career, but none of those albums managed to sink in through the public consciousness. From Kid A on, it became clear that Radiohead were blowing out the normal rules out what a popular rock band could do and sound like. So it’s no surprise that their fans are some of the most militant in existence – take a shot at Radiohead and you clearly don’t understand music.
Of course, Radiohead’s biggest influence over the past decade might not even be musical. By deciding to release their 2007 album, In Rainbows over the internet letting fans decide how much an album was worth, the band sent a ripple effect through the industry whose waves are still being felt almost four years later. Many bands have written songs about how terrible their contracts are, and some artists have even sued their record companies. But Radiohead’s move was the ultimate “fuck you”. They basically told the companies that they are no longer in charge, and that they have no say in how much music is worth, and how it should be distributed.
Since then, many big artists have tried similar moves – Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins in particular. While those albums haven’t quite had the same impact as In Rainbows, it’s clear that artists have been inspired by Radiohead’s bold move. The old model is gone, and Radiohead are the ones leading the charge. It still doesn’t mean I have to like them, though.
I’m probably in a minority here, but I never understood the fascination with Radiohead. And while I applaud them on the “choose your own price” marketing of In Rainbows, I found the album to be smug, bland, and worst of all – dripping of effort.
I admit to liking OK Computer (it’s the only album by Radiohead which I find to be interesting). When Kid A was released the critics loved it, because it was different. Many of them suggested that the album was paving the way for the future with its electronic beeps and blips – and non-existant songs. It was definitely a risk at the time on Radiohead’s part, but that doesn’t mean its soul-less vibe was as ground-breaking as the critics would have you believe. In retrospect, if it was groundbreaking it was only because it was vastly different to everything else that coming out in 2000. Remember this was an era when N’Snyc, Britney Spears, Blink 182 and Limp Bizkit were ruling the airwaves. And the “garage revival” was a year away, so naturally Kid A would lend itself as a masterpiece to the critics.
To me though, Kid A sounded like Radiohead tried too hard to take inspiration from Krartwerk, 1984, and Dada artists such as Tristan Tzara. While many rock artist take inspiration from literature (see Bob Dylan, The Pogues, Sufjan Stevens, etc) for Radiohead it didn’t seem to be an extension of their music, but rather something they could latch themselves onto for even more credibility than they already had. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Radiohead’s inspiration from Dada – a movement by artist who wrote a lot of dribble and nonsense that was deemed as philosophical and insightful – might be natural after-all.
Both fans and critics of Radiohead seem to praise everything the band puts out simply because they are Radiohead. Radiohead fans are a lot of fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You say you don’t like them and your credibility is automatically questioned, implying that you don’t understand anything if you say one little thing against them.
As you can probably guess, I have zero interest in Radiohead’s new album King of Limbs. I have no doubt that once again, critics and fans will be praising it’s “underlying message” and “adventurous music”.
And for the record, I’m not a fan of the Steelers either.