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REVIEW: Radiohead - OK Computer

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

My opinion on 90s grunge and punk is very different than a lot of people’s. Personally, there’s a large portion of the genre that isn’t for me. Elongated, whiney, vocals aren’t my favorite thing in any genre of music and whiney, mumbling, vocals were a staple in the 90s grunge era. Despite this I still have a large appreciation for bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam that pushed rock into its next stage and influenced millions of artists all over the world with this sound. My love for Radiohead’s OK Computer comes from more of a conceptual standpoint. Like a majority of Grunge singers I don’t truly care for Thom Yorke’s singing style or vocals. Not to say he isn’t extremely talented or influential, I just don’t quite care for his style of singing or his voice. However, as a writer Thom Yorke is absolutely incredible. Like I said, the reason I love OK Computer is conceptual. The idea this album portrays makes it one of the most conceptual and thought provoking albums I’ve ever listened to and possibly of all time. This idea of how we as humans fall into these holes of process and routine is bone chilling and scary to say the least. The concept that we become slaves to a system of normality and become these beings that are simply there to answer to others and to fall into this cycle where everything revolves around us earning money, doesn’t stay out of your head throughout this album. It’s frightening in a way. It’s frightening in the kind of way that makes you question who you are and why you are here. I think Radiohead uses this album as an artistic and creative outreach against falling into this system and becoming someone who simply says “OK Computer” and does as they are told. Not that the themes in this album even include things like rebellion or disobeying higher figures, but rather they explore things like the fact that you are in charge of your own destiny and choosing who you want to be and refusing to let anyone change that. This is explored in the track “No Surprises”. For personal reasons this track is quite possibly my favorite song of all time and has been for a very long time now. This is a track about how easy it is to bite into this poison of routine and how easy it is to let your life have “no alarms and no surprises” and to have “a job that slowly kills you”. One lyric that always treks into the deepest and darkest part of my mind is “I’ll take a quiet life a handshake of carbon monoxide”. Another track that will make anyone think is the commentary piece off the record “Fitter Happier”. This track is essentially a list of how someone “should be” and what they “should do” to be “Fitter Happier and more productive”. The song lists ways that a large portion of people want to be and the Eire and dark way it does so makes it one of the most thought provoking pieces off of this project. Some of the instrumentals off the track are scary and psychedelic and send chills down your spine. Cosmic sounding and experimental Influences like David Bowie and Pink Floyd shine through in the sound of this album. When it comes to instrumentals within 90s grunge I feel as if outside of a few exceptions Radiohead and this album really set the bar high. The drums on this album are crisp with fills that are perfectly in time and add to every track. The guitars off this album do the same and play some techinically amazing riffs as well as some tunes that get stuck in your head and add to the overall dark appeal of project. Radiohead’s OK Computer is one of the most abstract and important concept albums of all time. It truly changed grunge and conceptual music forever and from me and everyone else in the world who resonate so deeply with the music off this album. Thank you.

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