This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's Kid A

This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s Kid A

Reviewed by Jason Landry

I’m sure many people who are into alt-rock music have heard of the band Radiohead and have sung along to their popular tracks like Creep, or Fake Plastic Trees, and of course, Karma Police. But it’s this album, Kid A, that got everyone talking. As Steven Hyden, the author of the book, This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s Kid A refers to it, it’s “a landmark touchstone for the modern era.”

The author writes about a moment when Tom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, had a nervous breakdown before and after a concert in Birmingham UK. It was after a time when they played over 700 shows in a short time span. As he puts it, Radiohead wasn’t quite U2 yet, but they were well on their way. Yorke was having a terrible time coming up with songs for what will become Kid A. They spend time in a number of recording studios and only came up with bits and pieces of songs.

“Radiohead really was defined by one song for most of the 90s, and that song now has little to do with what the band’s persona became.” The band, and especially Yorke, was also trying hard to not be associated with Brit pop or bands like Oasis and especially wanted to move away from traditional rock music.

There was a three year gap since their album OK Computer came out and news outlets were chomping at the bit as to when this new album would be released. Melody Maker even hunted down members of the band to get the inside scoop to no avail. Once it was released in October of 2000, the critics weren’t so excited. They were hoping for more of the old, rather than what Radiohead had to offer.

Kid A reinforced a narrative that’s become a key stage of development for legacy rock bands—the pivot to “experimental“ music that occurs somewhere between your fourth and sixth album, in which the guitar is deemphasized and electronic elements are prominently integrated. Radiohead didn’t event this move, but every rock band that has pulled this maneuver after them has, intentionally or not, evoked Kid A.”

With this album, they defined the term ‘experimental rock’, and by the end of the century, it was given the title of ‘Greatest Album of the 2000’s’ by the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine and Pitchfork. Once panned by critics, it was finally given the credit it was rightfully due. Maybe it’s not your favorite Radiohead album, but it is mine.

Favorite Track: Everything In Its Right Place

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