Kid A, Amnesiac, and Radiohead's rebellion. Considering Radiohead's contrarian tendencies (e.g., playing grunge in a sea of Britpop and steering away from past successes), it's no surprise the band would end up rebelling against rock 'n' roll itself.

Though resoundingly considered the group's finest creative moment, the electronic experimentation of 2000's Kid A was a radical departure comparable to Dylan plugging in or Neil Young releasing a vocoder synth-pop album. It featured a largely computerized framework augmented by highly processed guitars and other instruments, alongside eruptions of horns and strings. Essentially, Kid A was Radiohead's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the record's kitchen-sink approach could not have alienated fans more.

In 2001, Yorke told Mojo: "I was really, really amazed at how badly [Kid A] was being viewed... because the music's not that hard to grasp. We're not trying to be difficult... We're actually trying to communicate, but somewhere along the line, we just seemed to piss off a lot of people... What we're doing isn't that radical."

Could Radiohead really be the last great rock 'n' roll megaband?
Sebastian Edge
Could Radiohead really be the last great rock 'n' roll megaband?

Location Info

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American Airlines Arena

601 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Category: Music Venues

Region: Central Dade

Details

Radiohead: 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 27, at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-960-8500; aaarena.com. Tickets cost $45 to $69 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

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In many ways, the frontman was right. Krautrock, psychedelia, No Wave, and other experimental rock genres had proliferated since the '60s, while entire generations of musicians had visited the terrain explored on Kid A and that record's companion followup, Amnesiac. However, when was the last time those sonic concepts had unfolded in the mainstream? Much like the aforementioned Beatles and Floyd opuses, Kid A was not just a relatively dense package of frustrated expectations and studio grandeur. It was an album poised to challenge the average listener.

Return of rock. Since the one-two punch of Kid A and Amnesiac, Radiohead seems to have settled comfortably into playing the role of elder rock kings. The band's three albums released since 2002 — Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows, and King of Limbs — have all been praised by critics for their "more accessible sound," which is to say straight-forward, melodic, and just rocking enough.

If those records had been the band's initial statements, they wouldn't have even yielded the "Nirvana lite" press assessments that placed them in opposition to Britpop's cheeky sheen. But Radiohead is Radiohead, and its legacy could inflate even the most flaccid record. Furthermore, the band has maintained relevancy by embracing the Internet's download free-for-all. Beginning with 2005's In Rainbows, the band has self-released its albums via a pay-what-you-want download system before allowing major record companies to release deluxe physical copies further down the line.

If rock was already on its way out when Radiohead got its start, it's practically a blip on the pop music radar in 2012. While nearly all genres have been infected by digital culture, mainstream rock 'n' roll has remained frozen in time. Can you think of the last rock band that mattered? Was it Radiohead?

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5 comments
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Lewson
Lewson

GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT ! I'm sorry but as already said In Rainbows was released in 2007, not 2005, and "Hail to the Thief", "In Rainbows" and mostly "The King of Limbs" are NOT "accessible"... The King Of Limbs is even less accessible than Kid A..

Listen to Radiohead before writing something on them.

Alex Romar
Alex Romar

Get your facts right before you write about anything. In Rainbows was released in 2007 not 2005.

I-Joke
I-Joke

What about Coldplay?

AlexR
AlexR

*MONDAY, FEB 27*

 
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