Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Artist of the Decade: Radiohead

It’s hardly surprising I chose Radiohead as artist of the 2000s – despite formidable competition from Kanye West, Daft Punk, Jack White, the whole Montreal broken social scene (Arcade Fire, Feist, Stars, Wolf Parade), The Strokes, Animal Collective, Beyoncé / Jay-Z, Arctic Monkeys and I’ll even throw in both surf-rock muse Brian Wilson and house DJ extraordinaire Kaskade. But, no one matches the near-worship level that Thom Yorke et al managed to reach over a full decade’s worth of recording, philosophizing and music-industry reshaping. It didn’t look as promising for the band in 2000, the first year of the millennium and a time of greater optimism (and gratitude that our computers didn’t fail after all! Take that OK Computer...). While U2, the former biggest band in the world, released the inspiring All That You Can’t Leave Behind (with hopeful lead single “Beautiful Day”), Radiohead responded with the dreary, polarizing, radio-unfriendly Kid A. I was one of the people who just didn’t want to hear those songs at the time. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready, and perhaps few of us were. In those 10 years, the world turned colder, darker and less hospitable. And “Everything In Its Right Place,” “National Anthem” and “Idioteque,” just to mention the biggest tracks from Kid A, grew in relevance. Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, pay-what-you-want, TV On the Radio, Dead Air Space, In Rainbows, Thom Yorke at Copenhagen, and Pitchfork documenting every bleat and bleep from Camp Radiohead, followed. I know they once scrawled Clapton is God on subway walls in London decades ago, but that was just because he was a great guitar player. What does Radiohead deserve?

Radiohead: These Are My Twisted Words (from RCRD LBL)

And for more new sounds, make sure to subscribe to my latest podcast, JeffMix2009.12.19 (also on iTunes), featuring music from Vampire Weekend, Annie, Cold War Kids, and Sloan, among others.

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