Radiohead is data scientist Charlie Thompson’s favorite band and he recently employed his professional skills to determine Radiohead’s most depressing songs and albums. Using data from Spotify and Genius, he analyzed and weighted how sad each song sounded musically and the sadness of the lyrics.
While valence serves as an out-of-the box measure of musical sentiment, the emotions behind song lyrics are much more elusive. To find the most depressing song, I used sentiment analysis to pick out words associated with sadness. Specifically, I used tidytext and the NRC lexicon, based on a crowd-sourced project by the National Research Council Canada. This lexicon contains an array of emotions (sadness, joy, anger, surprise, etc.) and the words determined to most likely elicit them.
Unsurprisingly, True Love Waits is Radiohead’s saddest song and Moon Shaped Pool its saddest album. You can play with this interactive chart to see all of the results. I thought Videotape would score lower on the Gloom Index…along with True Love Waits, it’s my go-to Radiohead song for wallowing in the darkness of my life. (via @RichardWestenra)
Steve Hackman, aka Stereo Hideout, composes, arranges, and conducts mashups of orchestral music and pop music. Not just mixes on Soundcloud, mind you, but entirely new compositions that are played by actual orchestras. The video embedded above is Brahms Symphony No. 1 mixed with Radiohead’s OK Computer but he’s also done a few others that are available on YouTube: Copland vs Bon Iver, Beethoven vs Coldplay, and Bartok vs Bjork. Hackman’s next project in this vein? Tchaikovsky vs Drake, which he’s premiering with the Pittsburgh Symphony in March. (thx, spencer)
Update: Here’s a trailer from Tchaikovsky vs Drake:
I wish I lived closer to Pittsburgh…I’d totally go.
I haven’t quite figured out if HBO’s new show Westworld is any good or not,1 but I’m sticking with it at least through the first season. One of the fun things about the show — ok, maybe the only fun thing, Westworld takes itself pretty seriously — is the western-style covers of rock songs by the likes of Radiohead, Soundgarden, and The Rolling Stones. There’s a mini playlist of the main theme and some of the covers — Paint It Black by the Stones and Radiohead’s No Surprises — up on Spotify.
Update:The entire “two-disk” album from season 1 is up, which includes original music as well as covers like Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film). LOL.
The show is giving off some serious Lost vibes. Lost, if you’ll remember, started off very strong and then the people running the show got lost themselves and had no idea how to keep the whole thing from being an incoherent wreck. Thinking they’d turn it around somehow, I watched until the very end, and, disgusted by the ending, have never thought about it again, except in a context like this. Westworld, don’t play me like that!↩
Until their first show at Madison Square Garden in NYC last week, Radiohead hadn’t played Let Down off of OK Computer in concert since 2006. I was lucky enough to be in attendance and some collective shit was lost over this, I tell you what. They’ve since played it at all three of their subsequent shows. (They’ve also played Creep twice in the past week, which is also rare.)
Here’s the full set list from that night, which is mainly just for me in 28 years when this is the last remaining page on the internet with this info.
Burn the Witch
Desert Island Disk
The National Anthem
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
2 + 2 = 5
Everything in Its Right Place
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
Update: Here’s a video from when they played it in 2006 in Wolverhampton:
Creep is perhaps Radiohead’s best known song, especially in the US. But the band is a bit ashamed of it, so they don’t play it all that often. They played it last night at a show in Paris for the first time since 2009. When I saw them in 2001, they played it for the first time since 1998 (and it was awesome).
There’s a certain point in everyone’s life when they’re unable to appreciate their younger selves. Between this and putting True Love Waits on their latest album, perhaps Radiohead has become more accepting of the band they used to be. The genie’s out of the bottle, mates, you might as well use the wishes.
On the occasion of the release of Radiohead’s latest album, Consequence of Sound has ranked every album and every song by the band. I won’t tell you the exact order, but Kid A, In Rainbows, and OK Computer are their top 3 albums (spot on…Kid A is my #1) and Airbag, The National Anthem,1 Fake Plastic Trees, and Everything In Its Right Place make the top 10 songs (mine is Everything In Its Right Place or maybe the live version of True Love Waits).
My kids and I were listening to Kid A in the car last summer and when The National Anthem came on, Ollie read the display, scratched his head, and said, “this is a really weird version of the national anthem.”↩
Radiohead’s ninth studio album is out and it’s called A Moon Shaped Pool (with a studio version of True Love Waits!). You can buy it directly from the band or on iTunes. The album is also on Apple Music but doesn’t appear to be on Spotify yet…dunno whether it will show up there later. There’s a special edition that ships in September that will have two extra tracks.
Update: The names of the tracks are in alphabetical order. I’ve just started listening, but they didn’t think track order was important? Lemonade this is not, I guess.
36. At the end of the track “Daydreaming” off the new album, Yorke’s voice is played backwards, singing the lyric “half of my life” over and over. Yorke, 47, was divorced from his wife last year after 23 years of marriage.
37. “True Love Waits” was originally recorded when Thom Yorke was first married. The fact that it has only now turned up as the final track on an album released following the end of his 23-year marriage is, well, devastating. The first word on A Moon Shaped Pool is “Stay” … the last is “Leave.”
Radiohead were commissioned to write the theme song for Spectre, the newest James Bond movie. The movie’s producers decided to go in a different musical direction, so the band recently put the rejected song up on Soundcloud. Enjoy. (via df)
Update: They took the full version down from Soundcloud but it’s up on Spotify.
Prince covered Radiohead’s Creep at the Coachella music festival in 2008. The video got yanked due to copyright infringement but it’s back up. For the moment anyway and perhaps forever…Prince’s Twitter account linked to it. (via @anildash (who else??))
While the members of On A Friday, the band that later became Radiohead, were on a break as they attended college, Thom Yorke was a member of a band called Headless Chickens. This is a video of a circa-1989 performance by the band of “High and Dry”, a song that later on Radiohead’s second album, The Bends, released in 1995.
Technically this photo was taken several years (probably in 1986 or 1987) before Radiohead officially came to be, but it features four out of the five members, back when the group was called On a Friday.
From left to right, Thom Yorke, Phil Selway, Ed O’Brien, and Colin Greenwood. This occasion marked one of the last times that Yorke smiled for a photo. (via buzzfeed)
Still, I think music fans and cultural observers need to grapple with this a little: Radiohead’s first album, Pablo Honey, came out 18 years ago. Here’s another way to think about it: when that album came out, I was 13; now I’m 31. And from at least The Bends to the present, they’ve commanded the attention of the musical press and the rock audience as one of the top ten — or higher — bands at any given moment. You might have loved Radiohead, you might have been bored by them, you might have wished they’d gone back to an earlier style you liked better, but you always had to pay attention to them, and know where you stood. For 18 years. That’s an astonishing achievement.
As Anil has his hands busy with a new baby, I’ll wade in here and point out that Tim’s examples don’t include any pop, rap, R&B, or hip hop. Jay-Z hasn’t been around as long as Radiohead, but he’s getting there. The Beastie Boys had at least 15 years. Madonna and Michael Jackson each had 20 culturally relevant years, more or less. I’m probably forgetting a few, but yeah, that’s still not a long list.
It’s called 01 and 10…ok, it’s not really a lost album. But apparently if you take the first five songs from OK Computer (from 1997) and the first five songs from In Rainbows (from 2007) and alternate them, the songs fit together musically and lyrically to form a coherent album.
Consider that In Rainbows was meant to complement OK Computer, musically, lyrically, and in structure. We found that the two albums can be knit together beautifully. By combining the tracks to form one playlist, 01 and 10, we have a remarkable listening experience. The transitions between the songs are astounding, and it appears that this was done purposefully.
The lyrics also seem to complement each other. There appears to be a concept flowing through the 01 and 10 playlist. Ideas in one song is picked up by the next, such as “Pull me out of the aircrash,” and “When I’m at the pearly gates, this will be my videotape.”
We had a few complaints that the MP3s of our last record wasn’t encoded at a high enough rate. Some even suggested we should have used FLACs, but if you even know what one of those is, and have strong opinions on them, you’re already lost to the world of high fidelity and have probably spent far too much money on your speaker-stands.
This conversation with Greenwood is part of a new series by Sasha Frere-Jones’ on the sound quality of recorded music.
“None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again,” he said. “Not straight off … It worked with In Rainbows because we had a real fixed idea about where we were going. But we’ve all said that we can’t possibly dive into that again. It’ll kill us.”
An inventive cover version of Radiohead’s Nude played by the following instruments: Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer, Epson dot matrix printer, HP Scanjet scanner, and an array of hard drives. Skip ahead to 1:08 if you can’t wait through the opening. This isn’t the correct technological time period to be steampunk. Bitpunk anyone? (via waxy)
Pitchfork: The Pitchfork review of Hail to the Thief put forth the idea that “anything Radiohead does from here on out will sound like Radiohead”…
CG: That’s like a late-night stoner comment. At about three in the morning — after you’ve put on Captain Beefheart and you put the red scarf over the light bulb — it makes a lot of sense. But the next morning you’re like, “I don’t know, maybe the world is fucked and we didn’t solve it.” So I don’t know about that.
Sounds like he’s got Pitchfork figured out. And as your musical sommelier, I’d recommend the 2007 In Rainbows with this interview.
Marginal Revolution and CNN (and New York magazine and Reddit and etc.) asked their respective readers: how much did you pay for In Rainbows, Radiohead’s new album which is only available as a pay-what-you-want download. I paid around £8.50 (~ US$17), which splits the difference between a typical album price in the UK and the US. (Actually, what I did was download it from elsewhere because Radiohead’s online store was down yesterday morning and then went back to pay for it just now.)