Radiohead had a great 90s, with its three albums moving them from Nirvana-wannabe alt-rockers to one of the most acclaimed bands in the world. Their albums The Bends and OK Computer have been hailed as two of the most important alternative albums ever.
The 2000s saw Radiohead embrace their critical darling status by steering their music away from the mainstream and into electronic, art-pop territory. 2000’s Kid A and 2001’s Amnesiac were embraced by critics and called modern rock masterpieces.
Here’s a copyright infringement tale that goes a few layers deep, and one I think is a neat illustration of how similar elements can lead to completely different songs.
In 1972, singer-songwriter Albert Hammond released the song ‘The Air That I Breathe’ on his album It Never Rains in Southern California (the title track of which is his best-known hit). He wrote the song, which is embedded below as today’s SOTD, with Mike Hazelwood.
Radiohead became eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and was nominated in 2018 before making the cut this year. The band’s inclusion so quickly was a no-brainer given their commercial and critical success, paired with the boundaries they’ve pushed in the industry.
In addition to their wide-ranging sonic experimentation, their 2007 album In Rainbows was the first by a big-name act to be offered under a “pay whatever you want” model (I’m ashamed to admit I paid nothing). That strategy was an early forerunner of the streaming age we’re living in now.
If ever a band was made for year-end critics lists, it’s Radiohead. They’ve been releasing albums full of bleeps and bloops to high praise for more than a decade now.
I really loved the Radiohead of The Bends and OK Computer but their appeal pretty much ended for me there (though parts of In Rainbows were listenable). After a five year hiatus, the band released A Moon Shaped Pool last year to (shocked) critical acclaim. It landed at #7 on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop albums poll.
I could see loving or hating this song. In fact, I could see loving this song and hating this song depending on when you were hearing it.
It certainly has a vibe — a vibe that might make it more effective if paired with visuals. In a very dramatic and disturbing movie scene, for example.
Or if you’re 16, misunderstood, angry at life — I could see playing this through headphones while lying on the floor of your bedroom in the dark.