Radiohead - Kid A
My interest in this album was peaked by Chuck Klosterman in his book, Killing Yourself To Live (far less emo than the title suggests). To those who have read the book, this evaluation of Radiohead's Kid A will be very familiar and sound completely ripped-off. That's because it is. To those who haven't, let me make it clear that this is NOT my original idea, it is all Klosterman's thoughts, but the idea intrigued me. I apologize if this offends anyone, it is not meant to be anything more than an interesting way to view a popular album, and I present it here to spark your thoughts. Perhaps it will ruin the album, perhaps not. It made a Radiohead fan out of me. Kid A is a wonderful album on its own. But it is more than that, when placed under a certain lens, it is the "soundtrack to 9/11."
Corny as it may sound, let's go through the songs: "Everything In Its Right Place," like the title suggests, shows life going as normal. The song is pleasant and upbeat, everything is going as it should and is in motion. "Kid A" follows up with more normalcy, and a general acceptance that science and technology reign supreme in our world (Kid A is supposedly the world's first human clone). What could possibly break through that? "The National Anthem" does, the randomness and paranoia in the song - especially in the second half - represent when the first plane smashes into the World Trade Center. The chaotic vocals of "What is going on?" repeat, and things begin to spiral out of control in a musical whirlwind of brass and rhythm. Somewhere before the end of the song, the second plane has hit. "How to Disappear Completely," the fourth track, is the beginning of the aftermath. "This isn't happening," is repeated by Yorke in a desperate tone, and natural disasters like hurricanes begin to rage across the earth.
The instrumental and very somber track "Treefingers" follows, because, as Klosterman writes, "what can you say when skyscrapers collapse?" Continuing, "Optimistic" mentions how "vultures circle the dead," and "In Limbo" deals with the United States new sense of realism. "Idioteque," possibly the best track on the album, deals with survivors ("Women and children first") and an acceptance of the event ("This is really happening"). In the new nation, "everyone wants to become a friend" in "Morning Bell," and "Motion Picture Soundtrack" speaks of ways that people are dealing with the terrible tragedy. And that's where it leaves us. While it all may seem to be a stretch, listen to Kid A again. The "This isn't happening" lyrics take on a new weight, to me at least. You may not agree, and I am sorry if you are offended, but I think it is an extremely interesting way to look at an album, and frankly what is music but everyone's own personal reaction to it? This reaction is all Chuck Klosterman's, it is by no means my original thoughts. It doesn't give Radiohead any undeserved credit for incredible insight and prediction in their 2000 release, and in fact Yorke created much of the album by pulling lyrics out of a hat. But, as Klosterman ends, "A genius can be a genius only by trying to be a genius; a visionary can only have a vision by accident."
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on 2012-09-26 iamparadox Said:
I really like this record and have since it was released!
on 2012-09-23 SolitaryMan Said:
Absolutely a love-hate album, from a band who tends to trend the same way amongst listeners. Still my favorite of their discography. How can anyone discredit the likes of the title track, How To Disappear Completely or Idioteque? Classics!
on 2012-09-22 tosnob Said:
No, In Rainbows is even worse than this annoying snoozefest.
on 2012-09-20 dscanland Said:
Complete garbage. If this wasn't Radiohead, you'd never know this album ever existed. Three stars only for the opening "Everything In It's Right Place". Worst Radiohead album EVAR!
on 2008-04-28 SolitaryMan Said:
It really is amazing. The more I think about it, the more I can see it's place among the top 50 or so records of the past 25 years.
on 2008-04-28 kev_stev Said:
I've been listening to OK Comp for about 2 years now, and the Bends for awhile as well. I loved In Rainbows, so I figured I'd work backwards from there, and for the past month or two, Kid A has absolutely blown my mind with every listen.
on 2008-04-28 Smeesan Said:
It's interesting you mentioned Chuck Klosterman. The man has an absurd amount of pop-culture knowledge, mostly in the area of music. I have all of his books, I consider him to be highly insightful and generally thought-provoking. However, the 9/11 comparison to Kid A I couldn't really get behind. It's an interesting insight and illicted a lot of thinking about this album, but every so often he's a little off center with his ideas. Definitely worth reading his books though.
As far as Kid A goes, I still think OK Computer is my favorite album. Yes, even the over the acclaimed In Rainbows.
on 2008-04-28 SolitaryMan Said:
Took you this long to hear it? Heh, that's okay, I didn't really start getting into Radiohead until about a year after Kid A was released. Better late than never. It's still my favorite RH album, as well, but In Rainbows is right up there.
on 2008-04-28 kev_stev Said:
This is one of the best albums I have heard in a long time. End of story.
on 2008-01-07 xtal Said:
I think it would be appropriate to write my first review about my favourite album (yes, really) so this is it. Sure, it's not the technical Rock 'N' Roll Champion Of All-Time, but we've got history, Kid A and I. Bear with me as I tread through a little background information: It was the summer of 2000, I had just completed my second year of high school, and like most 16-year-olds I had a rather predictable record collection: a couple of Floyd albums 'borrowed' from my folks, a Metallica disc, and a healthy dose of Nine Inch Nails, the Cure, Garbage and some other post-goth, pre-emo crap.
It was time to be saved.
My uncle worked at a local music chain at the time and I guess after I had him special order me a few things he didn't exactly approve of, he thought it was time for a rescuing. For my birthday that summer he got me a stack of CDs that he said he hoped would 'enlighten' me. That stack included Never Mind the Bollocks, London Calling, The Stone Roses, Definitely Maybe, and OK Computer. After one listen each the other four were buried under the weight of the latter. What was this new musical god come to save me? I had to consume everything I possibly could: it turned out that they were already far along on a new record that was due sometime in the fall. Excellent, I thought, a second helping of this delicious, grandiose rock 'n' roll heaven.
To listen to the two records for the first time only a matter of months apart, the sea change was probably not as alarming as it was for long-time fans of the band. Still, it was jarring-- but it was a good jarring. At the tender age of 16 you tend to read more into what you perceive as emotionally epic music. This was the case for me with Kid A. It was my soundtrack to everything: birth, death, rebirth, dinosaurs roaming the earth, etc etc. I was relatively sheltered so the electronic sounds I encountered were strange to me, I had heard nothing like it before; the opening quasi-keyboard wash of Everything in Its Right Place was incredible. The National Anthem was so unlike anything I had ever known that it barely sounded like what I knew to be music. The more ambient mid-section was also surprising to a newbie, and I fell in love with it. I can't describe the music further, but that's just it: I fell in love with it because it challenged me to open up my taste. Today I still find it difficult to describe the music of Kid A, except that I unabashedly still hold it in the high regard that I did 7 years ago.
It's certainly not critically perfect, and while it may not be the masterstroke many surely expected, somehow, to me, it is perfect. When I listen to each side my mind is presented with a myriad of images, usually influenced by the unfriendly-looking artwork present throughout the liners, and for some reason it never seems to be the same. One listen it's errupting volcanoes and the next its alien abductions.
What I had always wanted in an album was some great blank canvas for my brain to sprawl its own fantasy land, and Kid A gave me that in the most beautiful way.
on 2007-08-15 SolitaryMan Said:
Always been my favorite Radiohead album. There's something fundamentally appealing about the atmospheres and foreboding feel the album pushes through. I can totally see the 9/11 connections but there are holes in the theory. To me, "Kid A" was an anthem for introverts and the alienations and heightened sense of emotional impact they tend to live with. "Idioteque", when looked at in this way, is a kneejerk reaction to a world telling the introvert to "stop hiding". "In Limbo" is the state between wanting to break free and not being able to, and "How To Disappear Completely" an excuse to cower beneath the weight of the world. However you look at it, "Kid A" is as emotionally expressive an endeavor as any Radiohead have taken us on, and the quality of the songs is on par with anything else they've done.
on 2007-02-19 green_clash Said:
After the tremendous success of "The Bends" and "Ok Computer", Radiohead had a daunting task in front of them. Topping those monumental albums while changing their musical direction even more than they already did. Well, they sure changed their musical direction. "Kid A", the fourth album from the Brit-rockers Radiohead, cannot be compared to the bands previous three albums. Instead of sticking to their guns of talented singing and guitar playing, the band created an atmospheric electronic realm of sound that was shockingly different from their older material. The results are a unique album with some great stuff but some great misses. One of the bigger problems with the album is that half of the albums songs feel useless. The albums title song "Kid A" lacks direction and purpose and it's not the only song on the album like that. Sections of songs like "The National Anthems" chaotic horn outro feel disjointed and random and it kills the overall structure of the album. This not only goes for the instrumentation but also for the lyrics. As you may know, Thom Yorke pulled the lyrics out of a hat and in most cases, this means pointless lyrics and repetition of the same line over and over again. The albums opener "Everything In Its Right Place" includes the lines 'Everything in its right place' and 'Yesterday I woke up sucking on lemon' repeated until nausea. Though this lyrical strategy works sometimes, it usually misses the mark. The songs also drag because of the repetition. And my final gripe with the album is that often times, the music feels like noise. Take the 'instrumental' track "Treefingers". I don't consider this pathetic track a song. It features a buzz and random noises for an extended amount of time. Wow. But like I said, this album does have some great songs. The electronics in "How To Disappear Completely" and "Idoteque" work very well with the instruments and Yorke's vocals. "Optimistic", possibly the best song on the album, is reminiscent of "Ok Computer" but feels new and it works well with the bands new style. The album also ends positively with "Motion Picture Soundtrack" which sums up the album quite well. Overall, the album sometimes feels like a soundtrack to a movie rather than your everyday album. It contains some great stuff, some average material... and then there's "Treefingers"... and by the way, Chuck Klosterman is the stuff and his book made me want to purchase this album.