Radiohead: OK Computer

This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.

September 4, New York: I don’t need to remind you that OK Computer is an amazing album. You know. You listened to it on repeat in your bedroom on your headphones just like I did. You might have even had the “Fitter. Happier. More productive.” poster on your wall in college. I did not, but I always enjoyed seeing it around.

For me, this album is an end of an era. Perhaps multiple eras. It was the last of the really great alt-rock albums. We kicked it off with Nirvana and wrapped it up with Radiohead. And who could try to top this? It was on every single critic’s top ten list at the end of the century. Even Radiohead themselves introduced a wholly different sound with the release of Kid A.

It was also the end of a personal era: This was the last rock album for a long time that I loved that was also popular with the kids. That’s perhaps because this was the end of my being one of the kids. My strongest memories of listening to this album are in my freshman year of college, and it was in college that my taste in music began to expand, began to reach backwards in time past the radio hits (or the anti-radio hits) of the present. I’d already begun to broaden past the radio in the present, with artists like Ani DiFranco, but it was in college that I began to discover all the wonderful things I’d missed from way back when.

OK Computer is still great to listen to. It certainly doesn’t feel defined (or confined) by its era. There is a fully enjoyable cognitive dissonance between the alienated, insecure, often nasally-intoned lyrics and then the sudden all-out, head-banging, body-thrashing rock. The singer is still the same guy who brought us “Creep”, yet this album will induce uncontrollable reactions to bang one’s head or slap one’s hand down on the table in time with the beat. God, it’s great.

If for whatever reason you lost this album, let’s say you lent it to a girlfriend/boyfriend and she/he dumped you and you never did that return-to-me-the-things-that-are-mine thing, buy it again.

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