Radiohead Evolved Music With ‘OK Computer’ –
We’ve entered the 1990s in my music reviews. Namely, 1997. That means we are getting into some retroactive listens. I was a child in the 1990s, and not a particularly musically motivated one. I think I didn’t get my first album until 1998, when I picked up a copy of Bush’s Sixteen Stone. I was only dipping my toe into music in the late 1990s, I was definitely not in tune to what was dope in 1997. VH1 wasn’t provided me with real quality. Pop-Up Video can only do so much. Actually, I had Let’s Face It by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones on cassette. Maybe I was listening to music in 1997!
If this was all about me, I’d just go ahead and write about Brighten the Corners, Pavement’s fourth (and last great) album. You know, write about my favorite band and call it a day. However, this isn’t all about me, and Radiohead released OK Computer in 1997. It is, arguably, the biggest release in all of “alternative” music in the ‘90s this side of Nevermind. Radiohead warped the musical landscape with an all-time seminal album.
I think I need to consider myself a Radiohead fan. I’ve definitely listened to them enough. Sure, downloading In Rainbows didn’t cost me much, but I learned to play Fake Plastic Trees on an acoustic guitar for a reason. I half-watched Meeting People is Easy in high school, which is the only way to watch it with all due respect to the band. Radiohead did get a little too ethereal and electronic for me in time. That being said, OK Computer is when the early, heavier Radiohead and the later, moodier Radiohead shook hands and blew the doors off.
You can see it in “Paranoid Android” alone. A song that is six-and-a-half minutes long shouldn’t work, but it does. That song is a swirling conglomeration of all things Radiohead in one package. “Karma Police” is a truly iconic song. “No Surprises.” “Subterranean Homesick Alien.” “Exit Music (For a Film).” What an album. It felt so distinct, so fresh and yet so familiar. Radiohead had been a notable, successful band. OK Computer turned the band into legends, and rightfully so.
This was an evolution of a band, and of music in general. How many albums sway the sound of the era? OK Computer can say that. This is what you get when you mess with us.