Pakistani music journal Bandbaja posted an excellent article about all things Radiohead in their December 2003 issue. In particular, it is meant to serve as an introduction to the band for Pakistani listeners who may have only heard of “Creep”, but it goes on to make several acute observations about the band and some of the history behind it. Definitely a recommended read.
Here’s an excerpt, which was difficult to choose-
Radiohead?s lyrics transcend all notions and conventions of modern songwriting. Through the use of abstract words and macrocosmic cultural and societal references Radiohead songs describe the plight of the modern man. The artwork, lyrics and Radiohead?s ingenious publicity campaigns together are responsible for the procreation of what can only be described as a cult. Words that carry a powerful, esoteric nuance are responsible for generating cultist reactions to the extent that for some fans even the most insignificant of electronic blips carry a deeper meaning that only the most ardent of fans can relate to. Did I say insignificant electronic blips, how clumsy of me; of course nothing is insignificant here.
Instead of having a rather personal approach to songwriting like other artists have today, Radiohead?s lyrics are a critical observation of society. The amalgamation of all these elements creates a unique truth about the world we live in that can be related to by a listener from virtually any socio-economic and cultural background, given that the listener has some amount of social consciousness and ability to be introspective.
For instance, ?Ok Computer? is a highly cohesive album where every song tells the story of the desensitization of the modern day human. A formidable work of sheer artistic genius, ?Ok Computer? is arguably one of the best examples of modern art-noir. ?They?re all uptight?, Thom Yorke laments on ?Subterranean Homesick Alien?; a fine example of Radiohead lyricism where seemingly meaningless words and references are used to present an elaborate social critique. It is the nature of the lyrics that serves as an impetus for fans to be introspective and dwell upon the words which in turn reveals the bigger picture.
Similarly ?Hail to the Thief? was a critical observation of ?what it is like to be alive in 2003?, in the words of Johnny Greenwood, the talented and multi-instrumental guitarist. Embedded within the songs were references to everything from President Bush to matador corporations and corporate corruption, inspired by events such as the American campaign that led to war in Iraq, corporate scandals such as the Enron fiasco and in simple words an earnest humanistic reaction to worldwide human suffering at the hands of merciless power-brokers.
Although subtly rebellious in nature, Mr. Yorke?s lyrics nevertheless sound almost defeated and hopeless which is very realistic. It also places a different spin on political expression through music, since the lyrics are drastically different from Bono?s ostentatious take-on-the-world attitude and Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down?s frenzied militancy. Mr. Yorke gives us a red flag and an eye opener.
Go check out the rest here.
(Thanks to CUTW, whose message boards I am enjoying very very much.)