Song of the Day #1,359: ‘Black Star’ – Radiohead

Best Albums of the 90s – #15
The Bends – Radiohead (1995)


The more obvious choice of a Radiohead record on a list of the best 90s albums would probably be 1997’s OK Computer. That album is certainly the more culturally significant and critically praised, showing up high on many lists of the best albums ever, regardless of decade.

Indeed, I considered placing both OK Computer and The Bends on my list, but Radiohead has so annoyed me since those two releases that I couldn’t stomach the idea of giving them two slots out of twenty.

I opted for The Bends because in a way, it was the harder album to pull off. OK Computer is groundbreaking in its vision of an increasingly mechanized and impersonal world, and the way the band used their music and the album’s production to deliver that theme. But The Bends is just a straight-up alternative rock album. It doesn’t have any of that heady mind-fuck experimentation to fall back on.

All it has is a bunch of really great songs.

The Bends also marks the last time Radiohead was simply a rock band and not a critic’s darling whose every release sounds like an experiment to see how many times tuneless noise can be described as high art.

The album is raw and sad — it is often achingly beautiful and often angry and loud, and sometimes both of those things at the same time. The only reason this record isn’t higher on my list is that I don’t have a meaningful personal connection to it the way I do with many other albums to come.

Today’s track, ‘Black Star,’ is one of the most straight-forward on the album, lyrically. It is stark and mournful, yet lovely, in its dissection of a failed relationship.

I get home from work and you’re still standing in your dressing gown
Well what am I to do?
I know all the things around your head and what they do to you
What are we coming to?
What are we gonna do?

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home

The troubled words of a troubled mind I try to understand what is eating you
I try to stay awake but its 58 hours since that I last slept with you
What are we coming to?
I just don’t know anymore

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home

I get on the train and I just stand about now that I don’t think of you
I keep falling over I keep passing out when I see a face like you
What am I coming to?
I’m gonna melt down

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home
This is killing me
This is killing me

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,359: ‘Black Star’ – Radiohead

  1. Dana says:

    I hated Radiohead before I knew them, and the dislike intensified when I had to sit through hearing them as an opening act (for REM if I recall correctly) and the hate-affiar continued every time I heard critics heaping praise on them.

    If you say they made great music at some point, including this album or the other one you mentioned, I’ll take your word for it….This song, though, really does nothing for me, so I may just not be capable of liking their sound.

  2. Amy says:

    Yup, I have to agree with Dana. I never want to hear this song again, and I still fear for the hearing of my unborn child (despite the fact that she’s now 16 with perfectly good hearing) every time I even glimpse the name of this band. What a horrifying experience that opening act was! 😉

  3. Clay says:

    Weird… I read comments like those and first I think you guys must be completely nuts, and second, I get this urge to defend Radiohead.

    Which is weird, because I generally find myself on the other side of that equation, thinking critics are nuts for overpraising the band.

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