Radiohead: Really, What's the Big Deal?

Categories: Open Thread
Radiohead2.jpg
There are certain artists whose appeal and popularity I could never seem to justify. To no avail, I've tried to be open-minded and give them a chance time and time again.

I'll never know why the whole world thinks Arcade Fire is the bee's knees. Nor do I think Lana Del Rey's music is anything special. And apparently I've missed the Bon Iver boat, as well. At least I enjoy Fleet Foxes, but their music, you know, puts me to sleep.

But most of all, what's up with Radiohead?

While I haven't listened to all of their music (since it doesn't thrill me even the slightest bit), I have listened to In Rainbows, Pablo Honey, Kid A, yada yada yada, and I cannot, for the life of me, justify any of those albums being considered life-changing or insanely awesome. I don't understand OK Computer's place in The Canon, to boot. I've even tried waiting a few months between album spins in hopes that I'll like each album better than last time I heard it. Unfortunately, I haven't had any luck with that. The fact of the matter is that I like three songs by Radiohead, and that's it.

Aside from their hippie-dippy introspective anti-consumerism message that listeners get spoonfed throughout OK Computer, what credentials is the album left with other than a cool sound? Lots of albums have one of those, but that alone doesn't necessarily make an album great. Surely I must be missing something! Or am I?

Just because I don't like Radiohead does not mean I'm saying they're a shitty band. They're not a shitty band. They're just not for me. But that's exactly why I've decided to give them the ultimate chance to personally change my mind: I'll be seeing them in concert when they come to Jobing.com Arena next week.

Alright, Thom Yorke, it's on. Impress me.

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Gila River Arena (formerly Jobing.com Arena)

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Category: Music


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58 comments
SomeAsshole
SomeAsshole

Radiohead is one of those bands that take time to get into. With repeated listens your ears adapt to their beautiful sound and begin to crave more and more of it. The mixture of their genius metaphoric songwriting and diverse sound as well as Thom's hauntingly beautiful voice just blows what most musicians have done out of the water. Some of their songs are more accessible than others. 

Aaronhappe
Aaronhappe

I completely disagree with person. Radiohead impresses me so much that I have visceral reactions, not controlled by conscious thought, in response to their music. I get goose bumps, I shiver, I feel like I was just given a very very small dose of ecstasy. This is my real, honest reaction to the music. Having said that, If one doesn't appreciate their music, they are not "an idiot". The person who wrote this thread is just being honest. He is, at least, giving them a chance. That is more than I can say for most people. However, I must say, seeing them live is not the answer. Radiohead is a studio band, imo, and that is where they shine. They are known for their song writing and album writing abilities. If you don't like their studio albums, you are not going to like them live. And if you do... well... I don't think you are truly appreciating them. At least in my opinion. 

Neononsense
Neononsense

Saying " impress me, Thom York!" doesn't impress me.
- naive remark!-poor article!

Pablo
Pablo

Radiohead is the modern day Beatles. It's o.k. if you don't understand music, but maybe you shouldn't write as though you are a music critic.  How is Jon Mayer doing it for you these days?  Or are you more of a Nickelback fan?

anon
anon

I didn't get them at first either.  You need multiple listens but once you get it, you're hooked.  I would recommend you start with the Bends, which is their most accessible record.  Then OK Computer and then Kid A.  

Masonburkhalter
Masonburkhalter

Radiohead is so technically complex they are the type of band you have to listen to the whole album three or four times and then all of the sudden everything clicks and you get it.  It's been like that for every album they've done for me anyway.  This is why they are a great band, because they aren't radio friendly and the majority of people don't appreciate the value of truly technical obscure music.  If you haven't figured that out by now you never will.  Once you start to notice all of the little sounds and fixtures that go in and out of a technically diverse loop it is hypnotic.  No other band knows how to do this as well as Radiohead.

Rockstaryourmom
Rockstaryourmom

It is just sad that you will waste a ticket because you "might" like them. This show is sold out, and for every person like you, I bet there are two or more people in love with the band who couldn't get tickets.
Consider the fact, also, that this band has been recording and touring longer than most bands nowadays even exist. Don't you think you'd like them by now if you were going to like them at all?
If the New Times were a good publication, and not just a rag with which bums use to wash windshields at freeway exits, then they would give this writer's ticket to someone who actually cares. meh

Jjmskee
Jjmskee

What a way for this writer to say that he doesn't like Radiohead and thinks they suck. This offered no critical view on their talent and their influence on other artist. Your article makes you look like an unhip old man.. 

Jixymail
Jixymail

I'm really eager to read her follow up.

I am a huge fan. And I know so many people who feel the same way - It's just not for them.

But I don't understand why someone who isn't all that interested in Radiohead be committed to reviewing a Radiohead show? Obviously there are people at the paper who could objectively watch the show who are fans. Not to take the job away from her. Have her review shows she's genuinely excited about so she can review with either glee or disappointment. 

I'm just saying think about it. It's much more interesting to hear a fan give their reasons why the show worked ... or ... why the show didn't. It would speak volumes to everyone - fans or not. We're not all zealots.

It irks me when papers do this. Not your publication, but one in Atlanta recently went to the Portlandia music and comedy tour. And and article before and wrote a review post show about how they didn't get Portlandia to begin with and they didn't get it afterwards either. They then went on to scathe the Fred & Carrie. What sort of sense does that make to a reader. "I didn't get it. Maybe you did. But these are now just arbitrary words."

Find someone in your employ who gets it - who can give anyone/everyone a fighting chance ey?

G Ilecki
G Ilecki

It's been my experience that if you cannot get into Radiohead, you simply havent yet heard the song or album that connects with you best. Once this happens, the barriers will crumble and you should be able to appreciate the rest. By this I don't mean you need to find a few songs you like, but rather songs that connects with your soul (which is what theyre best at). For me it took only the first few notes of OK Computer (first heard a few months before Kid A dropped). It just instantly clicked for me, and quickly snowballed into a decade-plus long obsession.

What bands or artists do you enjoy? perhaps some fans could help steer you in the right direction.

onebrain
onebrain

Dear Lenni,

Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance.

Much love,

Brian Eno

Zelig30j
Zelig30j

If you don't care for their music, live will make no difference at all. Why not give or sell your tickets to someone who really wants to be there, but doesn't have the opportunity?

That would be a nice thing for you to do for someone else...

Max
Max

Lenni Rosenblum is one of the least interesting people on the planet. Putting Radiohead in the same article as Radiohead is sacrilegious. New Phoenix Times need a changing of the guard.

toocool
toocool

This is writer is really terrible. There is more to critiquing music than just saying you dislike everything. The little information within this text is not accurate. Wow, amazing that New Times would print this crap.

Yomama
Yomama

Give your tickets to someone that will actually enjoy the show.

Ejames
Ejames

Man, this article makes me want to put on OK Computer and laugh at how big of an idiot this guy is.

Undead4now
Undead4now

So you have not listened to even half of radiohead's music but you have the nerve to write an article asking what the big deal is! You just don't get it. Maybe you should actually listen to them before you start publishing such rubbish.

Bronco
Bronco

Lenni,

What's amazing about Radiohead (in a nutshell) is they're not afraid to experiment with music.
From beginning to current they push the limits of music and sound. "OK
computer", was the catalyst that started a number of bands to question their
idea of how music should sound to how music can sound. The mix of percussions, strings, brass and electric beats create a whirlwind of fantastic sounds. With that being said;
your lunch box journalism is pathetic as is your review of a band that you admit
didn't listen to!! If want us to accept your point of view/opinion have the
decency to do your home work and not bullshit us with your half ass opinion.

Thanks.

Sam
Sam

How does this pass for journalism? How does this even get published? Completely pointless and self-important.

Ccerv013
Ccerv013

if "creep" is one of the 3 songs you like, and if you are expecting it to be played at the concert, i will drive from California to Glendale to hang you from your neck and make you stand on a a block of ice. you are a waste of ears at the concert anyway!

Jenny
Jenny

Lenni, as soon as you see them live, you will change your mind.  Count on it! 

Sucmadic1000
Sucmadic1000

no actual points about why you dont like radiohead, but i guess if you don't get them, that's fine.  but, i will ask you this, what other band in the world or the past 20 years are better?  that's the question that radiohead haters can't answer because if they mention any band's name, it would be met with a bit of confusion.  not everyone likes radiohead, nor should they and it would be terrible if that was the case because they would become coldplay all of a sudden.  you know, the vast vast majority of people in the world think that the beatles are rubbish or don't get them, so each to their own.

anyway, maybe you didn't understand OK computer cause you failed to grasp the time it was released.  if you were living in the UK at the time, you would understand the meaning of it a lot more, its a very british album with a lot of british social issues being discussed. american's like the album just cause the sougs are fantastic, even if they don't completetly get the meaning even though it does transend accross western culture. 

I do pray you learn to love Kid A though, its a incredible album, and incredibly brave at the time.  if you can't get swept away be everything in its right place then your not human.

i'm not sure the concert you will attend will change your opinion as it will be a lot of their new stuff which i'm sure you don't like, a festival appearance would be better for you to attend or just watch their glastonbury or reading  gigs on youtube.  however, a lot of people fall for radiohead after seeing them live cause it is quite an experience. good luck my friend.

Vinny
Vinny

HAHAHHA well written and said. I am a HUGE Radiohead fan and will probably do anything Thom Yorke told me ha. In all seriousness though I think people cum their pants over them is because how diverse their albums are and how insanely talented they are. There is always something new and exciting coming at you and you can follow their progression through each album. Pablo Honey started it, The Bends bent it and Ok Computer destroyed it. After that they just kept going and it seems like there is no end to what sound they will create or experiment with. It is truly wonderful I think. To me they are more than just rock band from England. For some reason their sound mixed with Thom's voice who a lot of people dont like just cut through me. I can't help but bow down to them. Truth time first time I heard Nude off In Rainbows i teared up (FAG!). While their newest album didnt blow minds I still think it is a solid piece of art. I sincerely hope you enjoy seeing them live. Their concerts are an experience rather than just a performance. It is  wonderful and hopefully you will understand what i just tried to explain ha.

Mags
Mags

See you at the show, Lenni. I'll be the one, along with thousands of others, who like the band -- and have for nearly 20 years, from the lite grunge stuff to OK and Kid A (and the masterpiece Hail to the Thief), and the new jazzy riffy more mature work. I can understand why some people don't get it (they're not for everyone, big deal), but if Fleet Foxes puts you to sleep, I've got nuthin'. 

Goalie Chris
Goalie Chris

Sounds like Lenni has pulled off the tough combo of wearing hipster glasses while yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Also, The Bends >>> OK Computer

Woahdudewoah
Woahdudewoah

Holy crap this article is terrible. First off, if the Fleet Foxes put you to sleep then you definitely are missing the bigger picture in the music there, and why are you really trying to respond to people's criticism of your article? "Hopefully we're a funny one at least?" No, hopefully you start really trying to be a journalist.

sour saddle
sour saddle

 "I've decided to give them the ultimate chance to personally change my mind...
Alright, Thom Yorke, it's on. Impress me."

That's statement enough... your opinion is so important that Thom better be up for impressing you? Get over your self and your opinion. Where does New Times get these self important music writers?

Thom
Thom

Lets start a petition to make them sack Lenni.

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

"Radiohead in the same article as Radiohead is sacrilegious."

Esenya Alvarez
Esenya Alvarez

The show is sold out. Give away your tickets if you aren't a fan! There are people who would truely enjoy this show!!!

Lenni Rosenblum
Lenni Rosenblum

Thanks, Vinny. You're the first person to actually give me legit reasons for why Radiohead is a good band.

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

Bends has great guitars and great songs. OK Computer is just...something else. So good. The question no one is addressing here: Was Thom Yorke's solo album just pretty good when it should have totally great?

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

I'm the editor -- Lenni isn't responding. I like Radiohead; but I also like discussion. I'm curious how someone who isn't a mega-fan will respond to Radiohead's live show.

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Actually, all this discussion is what makes her compelling. The whole purpose is to get people talking and discuss the issue, looks like she's done that.

Bottombottom
Bottombottom

looking foward to your post show feedback.  i think you will be impressed. 

Larunia
Larunia

Hit the library and see endless articless quoting legit music critics and fans world over for reasons why they are a good band( about 20 years worth of continued prise and deserved one.It is like saying "sushi is yuck cause I don't like it, yet millions love it and pay serious bucks for it, they all must be stupid,demented or brainwashed to consider that gross stuff great. You can get so much Mc Donalds for that scratch . Grow up and and open your mind a little no body will force you to love Radiohead but examine the evidence and than open your mouth about  a subject you obviously know nothing of.Did you study their lirics , sound ingenireeing,vocal scales etc., see what kind of bands they influenced and how many people claim to have their lives changed just for starters?It just kills me to hear anyone say they see no evidence of Radiohead's greatness,( Hey there are people who never heard of them , as well as of Napoleon Bonaparte,some of my co workers for example.I know it is so hard to get info on any of the subjects).So keep living in your bubble and write usless and pointless articles about music, or it is time to shape up , pick up a course or two online.Good luck.

Richard W
Richard W

No. Thom's solo album was fantastic. A step up from "Hail..." for sure. There is a depth to the songs and the quality control on the synths and drums is astonishingly good. And what's more it is wonderfully coherent...more coherent than King of Limbs, Amnesiac and Hail...

I think what separates Radiohead, Lenni and Editorperson, is that they constantly evolve their sound and bring in new influences while remaining distinctively and unequivocally Radiohead. It is the same trick that The Beatles were able to pull off with such skill. By doing so you remain tuned to the current musical zeitgeist, while retaining enough of your original soul to sound familiar.

toocool
toocool

How could you hire someone so incompetent. 

Woahdudewoah
Woahdudewoah

This isn't a discussion though! It's an article that doesn't raise  any questions or bring any valid points into context to make a discussion or even a debate Mr. Editor.I am not a mega fan either but this is just a poorly written article that sweeps a handful of really talented artists under the rug as being boring or overly hippyish? Just like he missed the message that radiohead pushes, I missed the point of this entire article.

Hello
Hello

I do understand your curiosity, and although it's not without it's merit, it's a bit careless to have someone who already has a dislike for the band - it's quite likely their review might be skewed. What I would recommend would be to send two reviewers, and have an article, sort of a dialogue about how the show went. It's ridiculous to send Lenni to be the sole reviewer of the show, especially one of this magnitude. I'm almost positive she won't be able to paint an accurate picture of the performance, when she's going into the show with a biased opinion already. That's my personal opinion, take it or leave it.

Regarding this article as a whole, It's perfectly okay to dislike a band, but when no legitimate reasons are provided, it's better to leave such writings unwritten. There was no concrete reasons given as to why she dislikes the band, this more or less seems like a conversation an average music listener would have with a friend, and not something that should be displayed on a popular music website. Even the most naive of music listeners, fans or not, are well aware of Radiohead's contribution to popular music. They defined an entire generation of music and music listeners. They're consistently ranked as one of the greatest bands of all time, their music incorporates numerous elements, and they're widely applauded and celebrated as music icons. 

Albeit, I'm a huge Radiohead fan, and one might consider my comment a tad bit biased, i'm writing this with common reasoning and research. It's perfectly fine to dislike a band, but an article like this makes it difficult to understand what the writer was trying to accomplish. Did you want to stir up a debate? because you sure accomplished that, but this is not how it's done. If you're going to comment, criticize, or simply just write an article about any band, especially one as big as Radiohead, please provide a factual basis for your reasons, and leave personal opinions for parties.

Hello
Hello

I do understand your curiosity, and although it's not without it's merit, it's a bit careless to have someone who already has a dislike for the band - it's quite likely their review might be skewed. What I would recommend would be to send two reviewers, and have an article, sort of a dialogue about how the show went. It's ridiculous to send Lenni to be the sole reviewer of the show, especially one of this magnitude. I'm almost positive she won't be able to paint an accurate picture of the performance, when she's going into the show with a biased opinion already. That's my personal opinion, take it or leave it.

Regarding this article as a whole, It's perfectly okay to dislike a band, but when no legitimate reasons are provided, it's better to leave such writings unwritten. There was no concrete reasons given as to why she dislikes the band, this more or less seems like a conversation an average music listener would have with a friend, and not something that should be displayed on a popular music website. Even the most naive of music listeners, fans or not, are well aware of Radiohead's contribution to popular music. They defined an entire generation of music and music listeners. They're consistently ranked as one of the greatest bands of all time, their music incorporates numerous elements, and they're widely applauded and celebrated as music icons. 

Albeit, I'm a huge Radiohead fan, and one might consider my comment a tad bit biased, i'm writing this with common reasoning and research. It's perfectly fine to dislike a band, but an article like this makes it difficult to understand what the writer was trying to accomplish. Did you want to stir up a debate? because you sure accomplished that, but this is not how it's done. If you're going to comment, criticize, or simply just write an article about any band, especially one as big as Radiohead, please provide a factual basis for your reasons, and leave personal opinions for parties.

Kris b.
Kris b.

You didn't give any reasons why you're not into them because when your friends tell you they like them they don't give any reasons? The difference is theyre not writing an article about the band for a publication.
Looking back I hope you realize that no one is better for having read this. It's just one long opinion an brings nothing to the table.

onebrain
onebrain

"Yet not a single one of those people has ever specified what's so awesome about the band, and I've been frustrated by Radiohead's fans' lack of justification or constructive feedback."

Lenni, here's a few reasons why Radiohead is so 'awesome':

1) They de-constructed and then re-assembled the structures within contemporary rock music (AKA a paradigm shifter).

2) They introduced new shades and colors of sound to create fresh, sonic terrain and ambient landscapes.

3) They are music visionaries; they single-handedly changed the way many bands began to create music afterward.

4) They have an essential, intangible quality known as 'presence'; the ability to transport you to something greater beyond the medium. This is is known as 'art'.

And this is just a start.....

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

Hey -- thanks for an insightful, thoughtful criticism. I love reading stuff like this on the site. We'll see what you think of Lenni's review of the show. I think it will be interesting -- and hopefully further conversations like this. 

Lenni Rosenblum
Lenni Rosenblum

I didn't give reasons for why I dislike Radiohead simply because I don't hate them. I don't particularly like them, but I don't hate them either. They're in neutral territory for me. The point of the article was to open up discussion amongst our readers about what's so good (or bad) about Radiohead. Anytime I've ever told someone I don't "get" Radiohead, they've responded with, "You're crazy. They're awesome." Yet not a single one of those people has ever specified what's so awesome about the band, and I've been frustrated by Radiohead's fans' lack of justification or constructive feedback.

And since I'll be going to the show with an open mind and a positive attitude, then why should it matter that I'm not a Radiohead fan? Likewise, I've been to concerts for bands that I do enjoy, and if their show sucked, I've said so. For instance, I think Wale is alright, but there were some issues with how his show played out when I saw him, and I wrote about it. If I don't like a band's performance, I'm not afraid to publish that, but just because I'm not crazy about a band does not by any means warrant a music journalist to say that band's performance sucked.

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