• "The Radiohead Problem"

    I'm posting here instead of on another group where people tend to just show up and contribute to "game threads" like "who is the worst artist in the above person's weekly chart"... Not to say I don't do that myself, but I wanted to say something beyond something like that.

    It seems like any forum you go to, - any discussion of music for contemporary aesthetics even - Radiohead's gonna come up, and it's like you are talking about a member of the holy trinity to a Christian person. It's as if they are, de facto, the signpost of good taste for today.

    I don't think I am the only person who notices this or anything; quite on the contrary, I think it's so ingrained as an item of near-common sense that there's even a Family Guy joke that depends on this assumption. Given the fact that Family Guy's humor usually depends on some obscure WTF reference or pop culture smarts, I think the inclusion of Radiohead in one of their jokes shows just how far this Problem (as I'm calling it) extends. The joke in question is when Meg talks to this guy who is "popular" or something, and he lists things he likes to do which are really vague and boring, and his final statement takes on a serious tone and says uhm I also really like Radiohead.

    For me, I am going to go out on a limb and state the genesis of this aesthetic. I remember when Spin Magazine was just starting to put content online... and they had a forum section. They had also recently done a "top 100 albums of the 90's" issue. It was a great list, and Nevermind won that one. However, in the forum, people could contribute their vote to Best album of the 90s. OK Computer won far and above anything else on the list, as I recall.

    At the time I was pretty surprised that this would happen. Actually, Nirvana was my first musical love (I must have been about 12 when Nevermind started really kicking my ass), and I thought Radiohead kinda sucked. I had purchased OK Computer because I saw it was nominated for best alternative album or something like that... I had given it a few tries, but it obviously was not quite as direct as something like loudly blasting Nirvana was and I heavily preferred listening to Nirvana instead.. OK Computer sat idly by in my record collection, and I would talk to my friends about it like it was some weird, complicated album that wasn't really worth the time.

    So when I ran into this new Spin list online -- combined with the massive flood of music we were probably all experiencing at the time due to the floodgate crashing from Napster, Audiogalaxy et al. -- I thought I had discovered the populist choice, the group think nomination for the truly best album of the 90s. My interest piqued, I sunk back into listening to OK Computer a little more closely. Perhaps it aged well with time, or maybe I was getting over the grip of punk rock, but I noticed it was all I wanted to hear for about 2 or 3 months. As such, I slowly aligned my belief to that online list and gave Radiohead more credit as the more interesting, more sophisticated, and ultimately better artist in my record collection.

    This concentration of widespread attention onto the greatness of Radiohead via the internet almost perfectly coincided with their masterstroke: killing the sound everyone knew and making Kid A. For some of you reading I am sure this may have meant you stumbled into Pitchforkmedia or something for the first time and saw that it was getting perfect reviews. For others, print media was equally hyperbolic. It was as if Radiohead could do no wrong, and critics with fans alike poured their adoration into cyberspace once again as more and more people learned to get access to the music via internet...

    And here I am, probably just adding my own footnote to the whole complex processes at work under the vast network that is the internet... It could be an interesting experiment in groupthink, an example of consensus by growing majority voices, or something else... but Radiohead hit a nerve that reverberated in the right place at the right time. And yeah - I am a student of music, and I know they write complex songs that put 90% of the pop bullshit you hear today to shame. Still, it's interesting to guess why other people... People perhaps not so music theory inclined as I... People who just go on their gut on what they hear... Contributing, over and over again, to show statistically that more people say Radiohead's the best band in the world would do that.

    • [Deleted user] said...
    • User
    • 2 Oct 2008, 19:53
    Members of Radiohead are crab people...(c)me

  • I loved Radiohead when i was younger, but as i grew up Radiohead turned boring. They were my favorite band for a long time but when they released that live album i realized they sucked, they are old now and they are becoming something like U2.

    I'm aware that i can't speak about Radiohead's recent albums because i haven't heard them. But i have one thing to say, when you listen to music less famous than Radiohead you notice they are not that great, just like Nirvana.

  • find them and kill them

    straight edge? I'll drink to that!
  • in rescpone to emiliano_barrom's commment, or the second paragraph at least

    well fucking siad, summed up butifully, althought there are things i wish weren't as widely acepted in the main stream (rage against the machine, franze ferdinand etc.) for two reasons, one, most of the people who 'like them' have no clue as to their subtle brillience or influences and two, it prevents the people who live off their abilitly to list 100 'underground'/ generally unheard of bands from getting into them but i guess that's the price you pay for opening your mind that wide?

  • Radiohead is one of the best bands ever. Period.

    • zucchin said...
    • User
    • 2 Sep 2009, 13:52
    good one becker

    cactus with a moustache.
  • I've never liked them. I've tried to listen to OK Computer a couple of times but I always get dreadfully bored before I even reach the B-side. And I don't consider myself a listener, who shuns "difficult" or "challenging" records. They just sound... boring to my ears.

    Antero Tienaho Listen to me. And tell me what you heard.
  • Anti-Radiohead trend

    people in last.fm tend to hate radiohead because of their top positions in most group charts, people that claim to have an aquired taste in music that is supirior to most just because they listen to bands that are far beyond well known and extremely rare in peoples collections. I too like to listen to music that is not well known, it´s great but it´s just plain stupid to hate something because of its popularity and to me it just seems like a music snobery trend for people that just want to feel more cultured or sophisticated. Music should not not be descriminated or judged by it´s popularity but it´s quality.

    (\ /)
    This is Bunny. Copy and paste him into your signature to help him gain world domination.
  • Fever

    I agree somehow ! given that they make great music with enough sophistication for likes of me, it is becoming some kind of fever! people talk about them just as a statement of understanding ! :D!

    Mindfucking agent
  • i forgot to say : Radiohead is one of the best bands ever!

    Mindfucking agent
  • I hate how people listen to OK Computer and decide they don't like them. It's not that it's not okay to dislike them, just that it's not a very good example of fully showing what they sound like.

  • Presently, the best band in the world.

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