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kottke.org posts about Radiohead

The Radiohead Public Library

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 21, 2020

Radiohead

Let’s be generous and say that over the years, Radiohead’s web presence has been eccentric. Disorganized and scattershot maybe. In order to remedy that, the band have launched a massive online archive of stuff called the Radiohead Public Library. Stereogum has a nice rundown, including some rare stuff the band has uploaded to streaming services to celebrate the library’s opening.

Dubbed the Radiohead Public Library, the band’s official website Radiohead.com now contains comprehensive materials organized by album, starting with the A Moon Shaped Pool era and working backward. Among the treasure in this chest: high-quality concert and TV footage, B-sides and rarities, music videos, artwork, out-of-print merchandise, and playlists the band members shared during their recording sessions.

If you click on the ID card in the site’s nav bar, you can even download and print out your very own Radiohead Public Library card. It is still Radiohead though, so the library isn’t super easy to navigate — there’s a lot of clicking random images to see what’s hiding behind them — but it’s a start!

Radiohead’s Entire Discography Now Available on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 23, 2019

Radiohead have uploaded all of their albums to YouTube where they are available for all of your streaming needs.

The move comes after Billboard announced that album charts will reflect YouTube views.

Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones notes that the band has always been willing to experiment with technology and distribution, as with the pay-what-you-want release of In Rainbows:

As Yorke had predicted, Napster encouraged “enthusiasm for music in a way that the music industry has long forgotten to do.” The industry began to collapse. File sharing may have been utopian for listeners, but it was potentially ruinous for artists. 2007’s In Rainbows showed a way forward.

Released on a pay-what-you-want model, with a “digital tip jar,” the release was met with bemusement and contempt. (The Manic Street Preacher’s Nicky Wire wrote that it “demeans music.”) Two years later, the jury was still out on the “Radiohead experiment.”

(via open culture)

Mashup of Radiohead’s Creep & All I Want for Christmas is You

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2019

This is a little slice of genius right here, a mashup of Radiohead’s Creep and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It takes a little bit to get going but I LOL’d when the vocals finally came in.

I have to say though that it’s not quite as entertaining as this All I Want for Christmas / This Is America combo, which might actually be the best thing on the internet.

Measuring the Popularity of the Falsetto in Pop Music

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 13, 2019

In today’s episode of Earworm, Estelle Caswell teams up with Matt Daniels from The Pudding to track the popularity of the falsetto in pop music from the 50s to today. Caswell has a hunch that falsetto has been getting more popular, so they end up getting a bunch of data from Pandora that tracks the amount of falsetto used in a song and the vocal register of the singer, which they compared against Billboard Top 100 songs. The verdict? You’ll have to watch the video, but just remember all of those soul songs in the 70s and heavy metal & pop songs in the 80s…

Caswell compiled a Spotify playlist of songs with prominent use of falsetto:

In the recommended reading list, I found this Frieze piece from 2010, The Evolution of the Male Falsetto.

By reputation the falsetto voice is both angelic and diabolical, depending on who is singing, and to what purpose. Jónsi Birgisson, vocalist with Sigur Rós, is revered for his keening falsetto, the most ethereal element inside a great wash of sound. Birgisson is openly gay; on the other hand I still remember, at age 13, hearing Robert Plant singing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ (1971) for the first time, and how its devilish heterosexual lust scared me to bits. Plant is a truly outrageous singer, possessing a voice so alight with desire that he sounds in imminent danger of burning up. He is predatory but vulnerable, a bare-chested rock god who sings from a place of sexual rapture that cancels out the boundaries of his own body. He got there through intensive study of the blues: as with most tropes in popular music, the falsetto is in continual transit between black and white performers and their audiences.

But back to the video, I LOL’d at ~3:30 when they went through the raw data of falsettos, which goes from George P. Watson in 1911 (a yodeler) to contemporary Radiohead. I am a big Radiohead fan. And my kids? Not so much. In fact, my son has been trying to convince me for the past year that Thom Yorke doesn’t so much sing as yodel. I’ve explained falsettos to him but I will invariably hear “ugh, yodeling!” from the backseat when Radiohead comes on in the car. This Watson/Radiohead connection though…maybe he has a point? Maybe I just like yodeling?

Rather Than Pay Ransom, Radiohead Puts Stolen Music Up for Sale

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 11, 2019

OK Minidisc

According to Jonny Greenwood, someone stole Thom Yorke’s “minidisk archive” recorded around the time of OK Computer, the album that propelled Radiohead into the stratosphere. The thieves demanded a ransom of $150K, the band didn’t pay up, and the audio leaked onto the web. Instead of fighting the pirates and leakers, the band put all 18 hours of the archive up for sale on Bandcamp with the proceeds going to Extinction Rebellion.

as it’s out there
it may as well be out there
until we all get bored
and move on

Here is a detailed FAQ and timestamps for all the songs & snippets in the archive — “holy grail” tracks are marked with a star. On Bandcamp, Tanner Gallella describes the release:

Rarely is the artist’s process presented in such an unfiltered, uncompromising way — especially at this strata of musicianship. Polished mixes are juxtaposed against takes recorded in bathrooms; landmark tracks against distorted noise. A unique and delightful insight into a band in the middle of writing their masterwork.

My Radiohead fandom stops just short of listening to 18 hours of Thom Yorke recording music in bathrooms, but this is certainly a trove for superfans and those interested in the musical process of one of the world’s biggest bands.

Blue Planet II

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 28, 2017

Having achieved spectacular success with Planet Earth II, the BBC and David Attenborough are revisiting another of their previous nature documentaries, the 2001 series The Blue Planet, “a comprehensive series on the natural history of the world’s oceans”. Blue Planet II, Attenborough promises, will use new technology and our increased understanding of the natural world to great advantage in telling the story of the animal and plant life — dancing yeti crabs! dolphins spitting to trick prey! TurtleCam! — that dwells in our oceans.

The score is by Hans Zimmer, who also collaborated with Radiohead to rework an old song of theirs for the series. Bloom, off of King of Limbs, was originally inspired by the first Blue Planet series, so it’s come full circle with its inclusion in the new series. Vox examines how Zimmer and the band adapted the song:

If you listen closely enough to Radiohead and Hans Zimmer’s rework of “Bloom” for Blue Planet II, you can hear a really fascinating orchestral trick at work. They call it the “tidal orchestra” — it’s a musical effect created by instructing each player to play their notes only if the person next to them isn’t playing. The result is a randomly swelling and fading musical bed for the entire series that captures the feeling of ocean waves. It’s a captivating way to score a soundtrack for the ocean — but it also fits in with a long history of capturing randomness in music composition.

The “tidal orchestra” technique was inspired by pointillism and randomness: using small individual sounds to build a soundscape rather than starting with a specific tune. For some reason, it also reminds me of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 797. (No idea what inspired Yorke’s pants though. MC Hammer? Wow.)

Planet Earth II was probably my favorite movie/show/media from the past year, so I am really looking forward to Blue Planet II.

Radiohead: Lift

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2017

What’s that? You want to see Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke riding in an elevator accompanied by a revolving cast of odd people getting on and off at even stranger floors of an apartment building? Ok, here you go. The song is fan-favorite Lift, which was first recorded in the late 90s but not officially released until this year on OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017. The video contains a few Easter eggs for hardcode fans, including some cameos:

Perhaps some of Radiohead’s notoriously devoted fans will recognize Thom Yorke’s girlfriend, Italian actress Dajana Roncione, in the opening of the band’s new music video for “Lift.” Accompanying her, and pushing all of the buttons on the lift, is Yorke’s daughter Agnes.

The hidden rhythm in Radiohead’s “Videotape”

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2017

In her first installment for a new Vox series called Earworm, Estelle Caswell takes a look at some weird musical stuff happening with Videotape, a song off of Radiohead’s In Rainbows. According to a longer video by Warren Lain referenced by Caswell, Radiohead has hidden a syncopated rhythm in the song that even the band members have trouble keeping straight when they’re trying to play it. Videotape is my favorite song on that album…maybe this is a reason why?

Also, don’t miss the short explanation of how “rhythmic sound synchronizes the brain waves of groups of people”. !!!

Radiohead hid an old school computer program on their new album

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 19, 2017

As if you already didn’t know that Radiohead are a bunch of big ole nerds, there’s an easter egg on a cassette tape included in the Boxed Edition of OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017. At the end of the tape recording, there are some blips and bleeps, which Maciej Korsan interpreted correctly as a program for an old computer system.

As a kid I was an owner of the Commodore 64. I remember that all my friends already were the PC users but my parents declined to buy me one for a long time. So I sticked to my old the tape-based computer listening to it’s blips and waiting for the game to load. Over 20 years later I was sitting in front of my MacBook, listening to the digitalised version of the tape my favourite band just released and then I’ve heard a familiar sound… ‘This must be an old computer program, probably C64 one’ I thought.

The program turned out to run on the ZX Spectrum, a computer the lads would likely have encountered as kids.

Three synched performances of Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2017

Radiohead has performed Fake Plastic Trees at the Glastonbury Festival three times: in 1997, 2003, and 2017. This video synchs all three performances into one, with the audio switching between the three. (via web curios)

Old new Radiohead: I Promise

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 05, 2017

OK Computer is 20 years old and to mark the occasion, Radiohead is reissuing the album with three previously unreleased songs from that era (as well as eight B-sides). The album is now available for pre-order and will be released on June 23, but one of the unreleased songs, I Promise, is out now on Spotify, YouTube (see above) and elsewhere.

Using data science to find the most depressing Radiohead songs

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2017

Saddest Radiohead Song

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)

Brahms vs. Radiohead

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 06, 2017

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.

The western rock covers in Westworld

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2016

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.

Oh, and here’s one of the most popular fan theories out there: the multiple timeline theory.

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.

  1. 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!

Radiohead plays Let Down for the first time in 10 years

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 02, 2016

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
Daydreaming
Decks Dark
Desert Island Disk
Ful Stop
Lotus Flower
The National Anthem
15 Step
No Surprises
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
Separator
Planet Telex
The Numbers
2 + 2 = 5
Everything in Its Right Place
Myxomatosis
Idioteque

Encore:
Let Down
Present Tense
Paranoid Android
Nude
Bodysnatchers

Encore 2:
Bloom
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Update: Here’s a video from when they played it in 2006 in Wolverhampton:

(via @jamsandwich)

A rare live performance of Creep by Radiohead

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2016

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.

A list of Radiohead’s entertaining business names

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2016

Radiohead compartmentalizes various parts of its overall business dealings into several smaller companies. Here are some of them as detailed in this Guardian article.

Random Rubbish LTD
LLLP LLP
Over Normal LTD
Ticker Tape LTD
Unsustainabubble LTD
Unreliable LTD
_Xurbia_ Xendless LTD

You could whip up a really good Radiohead Business Name or Radiohead Song Title? quiz with these.

Every Radiohead album and song ranked from best to worst

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2016

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).

  1. 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, A Moon Shaped Pool

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2016

Radiohead Moon Pool

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.

Update: From Buzzfeed’s list of 37 Things You Might Not Know About Radiohead, these two tidbits about A Moon Shaped Pool:

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 and PT Anderson collaborate on Daydreaming

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2016

Let’s not bury the lede here…Radiohead’s new album will be out on Sunday, May 8th at 2pm ET. !!!

The video is by Paul Thomas Anderson for Radiohead’s second single, Daydreaming (buy direct, listen at Spotify, etc.) Why PT Anderson? Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood did the soundtrack for Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.

Update: In my haste to post this earlier, I forgot that Greenwood has done the music for several of Anderson’s projects, including The Master and Inherent Vice. (thx, all)

Burn the Witch by Radiohead

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2016

Two days ago, Radiohead withdrew its forces from the internet. Today, they dropped a new video on YouTube. The rest of the new album soon? Please?

Update: It’s on Spotify now and available for sale on Radiohead’s site and iTunes. Also, I am liking this song a lot.

Radiohead’s James Bond theme

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 05, 2016

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.

A cover of Radiohead’s Creep by Prince

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2015

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??))

Radiohead + D’Angelo = OK LADY

posted by Tim Carmody   Sep 11, 2015

A brand-new, free-to-listen/download covers/mashup medley EP from Roman GianArthur, featuring labelmate Janelle Monae on the beautiful duet “NO SURPR:SES.”

D’Angelo and Radiohead: it’s two great late-90s/early-00s/still-pretty-damn-good-in-10s tastes that taste great together!

(via Wired and elsewhere)

Thom Yorke sings a pre-Radiohead version of High and Dry

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 27, 2015

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.

Radiohead x Cubicolor x Jamie xx

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2015

Really enjoying this chill remix of Radiohead’s Reckoner by Cubicolor this morning.

The band hasn’t shared anything in over three years, but Radiohead does have a Soundcloud account full of remixes of their stuff, including this remix of Bloom by Jamie xx:

Speaking of Jamie xx, a new track from his upcoming album dropped yesterday. I’ve been wearing out his preview album on Rdio for the past couple of weeks. Good Times. (via @naveen)

Inherent Vice soundtrack

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2014

The soundtrack for PT Anderson’s Inherent Vice is now on Spotify, well all except for one song. The album is even more partially on Rdio. For the whole thing, you’ll have to head to Amazon.

The fifth track, Spooks, is a variation of a Radiohead song that’s never been officially released. (via @naserca)

First photo of Radiohead

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2013

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.

Early Radiohead

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)

Weezer covers Paranoid Android

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 01, 2011

Depending on how you feel about Weezer and Radiohead, this is either the best thing in the world or nails on a chalkboard.

(via devour)

Radiohead, bigger than The Beatles?

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2011

Tim Carmody gives props to Radiohead for their rare combination of longevity and relevance.

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.