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Radiohead  

English Rock Band, Known for "Creep"

Radiohead were one of the most innovative and provocative bands of the 1990s and 2000s. They were five very serious Englishmen who developed their own sound. The band, who were also the biggest art-rock act since Pink Floyd, began as purveyors of a swooning, from-the-gut sound that Alicia Silverstone aptly labeled as “complaint rock” in the film Clueless. But albums like 1997’s space-rock opera OK Computer and 2000’s slippery, is-this-even-rock? Kid A (which was Rolling Stone’s album of the decade for the 2000s) were game-changers—future-shock opuses that showed off shadowy, meticulously constructed electronic textures and inspired thousands of imitators, none of whom had Radiohead’s talents.

Radiohead's debut EP Drill was released in 1992. Heavily inspired by the Pixies at this time, a group Yorke would champion as one of the greatest ever, the EP featured four songs, three of which would appear on the band's debut 1993 album Pablo Honey. Titled after a Jerky Boys skit, Pablo Honey featured the smash hit "Creep," a song that remains Radiohead's most lasting and successful single even though they've all but disowned Pablo Honey in the shadow of their later work. With Yorke's Kurt Cobain hair, its depressing story about unrequited love and the way "Creep" borrowed the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud aesthetics, many were quick to bunch Radiohead in with the overgrowing pool of Nirvana rip-offs, another one-hit wonder from the other side of the Atlantic plundering Nevermind for instant and fleeting fame.

1995's The Bends proved that Radiohead was no one hit wonder: With its mix of sonic guitar anthems and striking ballads, the band's second album was critically applauded immediately, and Radiohead were elevated above their Brit pop peers on the strength of songs like "My Iron Lung," "High and Dry" and "Fake Plastic Trees." Yorke's lyrics now began to paint a more haunted landscape, with themes of sickness, consumerism, jealousy and longing. While no singles scraped the heights of "Creep," The Bends was a smash success in the U.K. and wound up selling well in the U.S. The music on The Bends was so potent and fresh that bands like Coldplay and Muse, two Brit rock groups directly influenced by Radiohead's second album, would go on to enjoy multi-platinum fame by adhering to its blueprint.

The success of The Bends scored Radiohead gigs opening for Alanis Morissette—with the band using that trek to road test tracks for their third album—and R.E.M. Yorke and R.E.M's Michael Stipe became friends while their two bands on the road, and the whole experience would go on to influence the trajectory of the band's career.

In just four years, Radiohead had gone from "Creep" to OK Computer's lead single "Paranoid Android," a six-and-a-half minute multi-part epic that drew comparisons to everything from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to the Beatles to prog-rock. Two more singles from the album got heavy airplay, "Karma Police" and "No Surprises," and the success of OK Computer both critically and commercially—the LP would hit Number One on the U.K. Album Charts—jettisoned Radiohead to global fame. The wears of the ensuing tour and Yorke's almost inability to adapt to this new popularity was documented in the film Meeting People is Easy.

After the monumental success of OK Computer, expectations were unfathomably high for Radiohead's fourth album. With Yorke suffering from writer's block and the band divided over what direction their music should take—whether to return to rock or go further off the deep end—Radiohead once again teamed with producer Nigel Godrich to begin recording Kid A in 1999. With Kid A, Radiohead took OK Computer, dismantled it down to its motherboard, added technology both cutting edge and antiquated and rebuilt it all as an actual paranoid android. Radiohead's most recognizable instrument had always been Yorke's unique voice, but Kid A intentionally rendered his vocals mechanized and mutilated.

As Kid A yielded no music videos, singles or interviews from the band, these little "blips" were all the band did to promote their album; in fact, the positive word of mouth circulating around the Kid A leak helped create more prerelease buzz than any video or single could have. Despite no singles, no videos and an album that was readily available for free to anyone with access to a high-speed cable modem, Kid A debuted at Number One on the Billboard album charts upon its release.

While touring in the summer of 2002, Radiohead premiered another dozen new songs onstage. These tracks provided the backbone for the band's next album, 2003's Hail to the Thief. More song-minded and tuneful than its predecessors, the first sound the listener hears on HTTT opener "2+2=5" is the sound of a guitar being plugged into an amp, signifying the album would be a slight return to the rock Radiohead all but abandoned on their previous two albums.

The album was also a reflection of the gloomy state of affairs in the post-9/11 world; George W. Bush's America was marching hand-in-hand into Iraq with the United Kingdom and all the paranoia of Yorke's earlier lyrics suddenly seemed justified. Among the highlights on Hail to the Thief were the Grammy-nominated "There There," a Can-inspired single paced by a thunderous army of drums, the rock-oriented second single "Go to Sleep" and "A Wolf at the Door," a foreboding album closer that Yorke delivers so frenetically it borders on hip-hop. A collection of Hail-era B-sides and remixes were released on the COM LAG EP in 2004, and after releasing three critically acclaimed albums in the span of three years, Radiohead went on hiatus to begin work on solo projects.

Yorke, more fascinated with music born out of computers than guitars, finally placated all his electronic yearnings on his debut solo album The Eraser, released in July 2006. A departure from Radiohead's work but still distinctively Yorke, the album was received warmly by both critics and fans. It wouldn't be until October 2009 that Yorke would finally bring Eraser tracks to a live setting, teaming with Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and Godrich for a band named "????". Yorke's side project was enlisted to perform at the 2010 Coachella Festival. Meanwhile, Greenwood and his continued mastery of the ondes Martenot were drafted to score director Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-nominated film There Will Be Blood. In his first true attempt as film composer, Greenwood's score earned rave reviews.

Recording on the band's seventh album began in mid-2005 through early-2006, but the band grew frustrated with what was coming out of those sessions. For the first time since Pablo Honey, Radiohead tried working without the aid of Nigel Godrich, adding Mark "Spike" Stent for the embryonic stages of the recording. By April 2006, however, Stint was relieved of his duties and Godrich was reinstated.

Six albums into their career and on the verge of their seventh, Radiohead finally found them in a position they hadn't been in since before Pablo Honey, as the band's record contract with EMI expired following HTTT. "If the major labels had their shit together about the Internet… They've been sticking their heads in the sand over new technology," Yorke told Rolling Stone in 2000 as the record industry struggled to adapt to Napster and the digital medium. "They reaped some pretty bad karma doing that, and now they're paying the consequences." Free of their record contract, the stage was set for the band's riskiest masterstroke to date with the 2007 release of In Rainbows.

In a move that would revolutionize how artists would distribute their music, Radiohead offered up In Rainbows by allowing people to pay what they wanted for a digital copy of the album, thus letting the fans decide what the music was worth to them. The theory was, since all of their albums since Kid A had leaked prior to its release—including Hail to the Thief in an unmastered form—they'd leak the complete album the way it was meant to be heard themselves while essentially putting a digital tip jar on the album's official website. The majority opted to download In Rainbows for free, but the band later revealed that the In Rainbows experiment did more for their own pocketbooks means than the release of their previous albums.

In addition to the "pay-what-you-want" approach, which was both applauded and criticized but was inarguably an industry-changer, Radiohead also offered up a "disc-box" version of In Rainbows, a physical release that included and a bonus disc sporting eight additional songs from the In Rainbows sessions. Despite being distributed for free legally and illegally—peer-to-peer downloads of In Rainbows reportedly eclipsed legal downloads—the album still reached Number One on the Billboard 200 when it was physically released on CD on January 1st, 2008. In Rainbows itself was Radiohead's most lush and accessible LP since OK Computer, and introduced the band to a whole new generation of fans. Radiohead toured in support of In Rainbows throughout 2008.

2009 brought a pair of new Radiohead recordings, the charity single "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)" and a free download of an IR leftover "These Are My Twisted Words." Thom Yorke also released a 12'' single with two new tracks "The Hollow Earth" and "Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses" and also contributed the song "Hearing Damage" to the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. In early 2010, Radiohead began work on their follow-up to In Rainbows.

Videos


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Radiohead - Karma Police - YouTube
added about 3 years ago
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Radiohead - Daydreaming - YouTube
added about 3 years ago

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