Thursday, March 13, 2008

Radiohead - Kid A

Radiohead - Kid A (or How Radiohead Stole the Future of Music)
by Todd Hutlock



I’m fully aware that my strong dislike for Radiohead is almost entirely irrational. I don’t find them offensive or really annoying or anything like that. In fact, I don’t really think of them at all; I find them to be pretty boring, all told. With each successive OMG LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF ROCK, BETTERTHANTHEBEATLESJAMMINGWITHCANJAMMINGWITHMILESDAVIS moment heaped upon their heads, my dislike grows exponentially. They’re okay. They aren’t bad. They have a few crafty-kinda tunes and they write a legit single every fifteen years, but beyond that, what exactly are they doing that hasn’t been done before? Often?

No, I think I dislike Radiohead so much because all of my peers, along with millions of record buyers and downloaders, are just absolutely sucked into their schtick and I just don’t get it. I never have. I was working college radio when “Creep” hit, and I liked the tune well enough, but by the time The Bends came out, they had lost me. Again, I didn’t dislike them; they just didn’t grab me, or even turn my head. I can’t even count the number of times I saw the “Fake Plastic Trees” video on MTV, wondering why in the name of fuck it got so much airplay. Where was the tune? It sounded, remarkably enough, both “fake” and “plastic” to me. Weepy Brit with goofy eye emoting for a few minutes with some marginal, blah stuff going on in the background that impressed some engineers. This is the future of music? I didn’t believe it, but as it turns out, I was wrong. It was exactly that. I fell victim to the backlash that never was.

The thing that really pushed me over the edge was the coronation of Kid A. Let me get this straight then: this is the future of music. Not the last one. Oh, okay. Straight in at the top of the charts without so much as a sniff of a hit single. It was like the world just decided they were sick of everything else. Melody, tunes, incentive to make records that make you feel good. Out. What the public wanted now? Well, let’s look at the public that wanted it:

a) disenfranchised indie kids looking for hope against the corporate machine
b) lonely, collegiate virgins looking to bond outside their lonely dorms, and oh,
c) aging critics looking to hang their hats on a Band of Their Very Own Generation before teh internetz showed them the door.

All the curious teens who check things out because their friend who’s “into” music said it was good, they bought it, hook, line, and sinker. But who listened first? Who decided this was good? Online leaks weren’t yet a given, and I can tell you from experience that advance copies were difficult to obtain, to put it mildly (fuck you very much, Nasty Little Man). But the thing flew out of stores without advance singles or anything other than a massive, stifling wave of hype from all the “right” channels.

Someone decided for us that this was great and revolutionary and sold you all a bill of goods. It angered me. This is not a great album. It’s not even Radiohead’s best album. Is it good? Well. It’s got interesting noises, the guitar player does some neat stuff, Thom Yorke doesn’t sing so much as mew, and they’ve been basically treading water since. Yeah, it’s good. But not nearly as good as its timing was. The time was the key. At the head of the decade, the music world decided they badly needed a Radiohead.

The only alternatives were nu metal, and teenpop, which hadn’t yet gained the stature in irony for Indie Love. What else was there for young white listeners looking to forge their own identity alongside all the other young white listeners? What could they unite over that still made them look independent-minded? As much as nu metal’s or teenpop’s, Radiohead’s audience was ripe for the picking and pick it they did. I can hardly blame them. I mean, Christ, if someone said I could wank around in a recording studio and release whatever I wanted for the rest of my life and making millions besides, I’d certainly take them up on it. Someday, more people will wake up and see what I see, that the last thing that made Kid A a hit was Kid A itself. The emperor has no clothes.

Todd Hutlock is an editor at some bullshit website.

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3 Comments:

Blogger kiss out the jams said...

possibly my favorite phrase we're printed so far: "Weepy Brit with goofy eye"

March 14, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Anonymous floodwatch said...

Rarely do I come across someone who can sum up Radiohead's overratedness as succinctly as this, and whose thoughts mirror mine to a T. Let's swim against the tidal wave together.

Great post.

March 19, 2008 at 3:58 AM  
Blogger j♥ said...

i used to hate radiohead too and yeah it was pretty much cuz of his wonky eye

March 21, 2008 at 12:20 AM  

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