The Joup Friday Album: Radiohead ‘Kid A’

 

kidaI’m not here, this isn’t happening.

For lyrics like this to be presented on a record such as Kid A is kismet. Kid A by Radiohead was created at a time when the band was facing deep pressures. With all of the album of the year and modern classic accolades that the band received with their 1997 classic Ok Computer it’s understandable why the thought of how a follow up to a record that important could be a daunting task. Somehow along the way though, amid all of the stress and tension within the band, a near perfect piece of art emerged in a way most great thing in life do, completely by accident.

Everything is in it’s right place.

After the toll that a lengthy tour and huge amount of interviews and press took on the band, Radiohead and front man Thom Yorke were left creatively drained. So much so that Yorke had faced a serious case of writer’s block and had to come up with most of the  lyrics for the record purely through taking common phrases and arranging them in ways that seemed to work. This in part with a disenfranchisement the band felt with “Guitar music” and being labeled as the “next Pink Floyd” from the reputation that the band was receiving in the press and for the work they’d done prior, work that led to the band experimenting with a myriad of different styles of music on this record. All bases are touched, from experimental music with the titular track “Kid A” to the stark electronica of album highlight “Idioteque”. Even examples of  free jazz and ambient music with “The National Anthem” and “Treefingers” were on display with this release. Radiohead set out to conquer new territory and did so with staggering levels of success. Pegged as commercial suicide by Parlaphone/ Capital Records upon it’s release, Kid A still managed to be a hit; not just to a commercial audience – due in part to the success and good will the band had with subsequent releases – but with the pure originality of the record becoming a hit through a newly burgeoning medium at the time: blogs.

 

 

I will see you, In the next life.

I know what you’re thinking. Why talk about Kid A when so much has been said about this record already? The impetus came at the beginning of the month, on October 2nd to be exact, when I was looking through my news feed on Facebook instead of doing work at my former less-than-glamorous job at a local grocery store. I was reminded by Spin magazine that Kid A had reached it’s 15th anniversary that day. Being that Radiohead is my favorite band of all time, and Kid A one of my favorite records ever, in true music nerd fashion I couldn’t wait to go home that night, grab my pair of studio-quality headphones and pop my copy of Kid A into my stereo in honor of its birthday. What resulted was an experience that will always stick with me. I’ve always been amazed by Kid A, hell I’ve been listening to the record regularly for the last seven of the fifteen years it’s existed. But that night was when I appreciated and got that record even more; years of appreciation for the large world of music I’ve been consuming for the last seven years culminated on top of listening to this record, and made me appreciate how much influence this record had on all of it, how much it’s had on other artists. It also dawned on me more than ever how much of an anomaly Kid A truly is for a multitude of reasons. Reasons such as Kid A is an album that has lyrics that are literally made by being pulled out of a hat but still manage to be relevant and strangely relatable to events in society that took place in years that followed it’s release such as: genetic modification and cloning, climate change and how national tragedy can change the world. The fact that the album topped the billboard one hundred upon it’s release in 2000 even though the record is largely experimental. That a band like Radiohead could take a risk like this and alienate so much of their fans with an creative detour this different. Most importantly though, the music itself. Even though everything is misshaped, haphazardly put together and kind of a flood of ideas put together, it is still somehow a perfect cohesive piece of work from beginning to end that remains the best record in pop and rock music to be released in its 15 year life span. A piece of work that in light of its anniversary or just in general deserves your time, attention and awe, because like life itself it’s a strange journey that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but nevertheless is still beautiful and inspiring.

Tag Amy!

Buy Kid A HERE!

 

Daniel R. Fiorio

Writer, blogger, record collector/music fanatic, comic book junkie, jerkstore/all around nice dude from the south suburbs of Chicago

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