If I were a Playboy Playmate instead of a spark plug with nice hair, my turn-ons/interests would be as follows: Andy Pettitte, The Mighty Arsenal, Oakland Raiders, New York Yankees, Jemaine Clement, Bear Grylls, Guinness, buffalo wings, left-handedness, narcissistic sadism and musical elitism.
One of the few interests that we haven’t covered is my musical taste. I could blame it on being too consumed with making psychotic ramblings about teams that don’t care about me, but the truth is, it’s not all that interesting and also proves that I’m a truly horrible person. Most of the time, I prefer to let you reach your own conclusions on that particular issue but not today.
Let me preface this post by establishing some facts:
- I have neither the time nor the inclination to sit here for hours listing the multitude of obscure bands and artists whose styles suit my snobbish yet inconsistent fancy.
- If we’re really friends, I’ve already recommended more music to you than you can possibly handle. Music – like the sweet ganjah – should be free and shared with the masses… Music finds its way into the secret places of your heart and becomes an outburst of the soul, expressing your thoughts, fears and desires when words cannot do them justice. Life without music is one that is not worth living.
- I will judge you on your music collection. I broke up with a boy once for suggesting that we attend a John Mayer concert. I’m not messing around. Look, we all have our weaknesses, guilty pleasures and shameful moments. I know every word to “Crazy In Love” by Beyonce – even Jay Z’s parts. I can’t begin to rock out enough to Bon Jovi when I’m in my car. I was caught dancing to Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” on my desk in my office. But I don’t care – there’s a lot of brainless pop out there that’s just damn fun. Besides, I love to dance and you can’t do that to Dispatch.
That said, there is a distinct difference between shaking your ass at the club and singing along in the car and considering Top-40/TRL shite as quality, choice music. If it can be heard during an episode of “The Hills,” “Laguna Beach,” anything on E! or one of those terrible VH-1 “Best Of Shows,” it is unacceptable. And if you’re one of the people that disagrees with me, it is very likely that I don’t want you in my life. I have found that 9 times out of 10, people who listen to this mindless, Studio Magic schlock inevitably have personality and lifestyle traits that I find reprehensible. I call them “Radio People.”
Radio People must go. Every once in a while, I start liking someone before they reveal their true nature and I’m stuck, but on the whole, I can sniff them out from 8 miles away. I do my best to save souls from the pits of hell but some cannot be helped. At times, people get on my case for being an anti-Top 40-ite but in response, I ask you this – if a person has so little self-respect that he or she considers Jason Mraz, Fall Out Boy, Avril Lavigne, Nelly and Nickelback worthwhile, why should I give them the time of day? Why should I afford them the respect they won’t give themselves? If you think “I’m hot because I’m hot, I’m fly because you not” is a lyrical and even musical marvel, you need to kill yourself. Seriously.
With that out of the way, I should reveal that I am a Radiohead fan. A fanatic, really. I’m one of those sanctimonious tools that considers Radiohead to be art. I’m one of the affected millions that considers OK Computer to be the greatest album ever made. I’m one of those losers that hears “Exit Music (For a Film),” “Paranoid Android” or “Fake Plastic Trees” and breaks down in tears before claiming to have had a spiritual awakening. And yes, I’ve honestly done that. Make fun of me if you want to but if a song or a band hasn’t done that to you at some point, then music just isn’t doing its job. In any case, one thing I have never done is pull the preachy Radiohead fan routine — until today.
Musical taste is subjective and unless you are a Radio Person, you should not be judged. The same goes for Radiohead — it’s not for everyone. It’s not even for most. Not liking them doesn’t mean you lose your membership to the hip club. It doesn’t make you a loser or somehow less knowledgeable about music. It is a band, like many, that some people just “get” and others don’t. It is a band that through its evolution and continued pursuit of innovation, has lost many fans and turned away even more at the gate. But through it all, from the first time I heard Pablo Honey and The Bends to the present, Radiohead hits me in a place that no other band can. It’s not because I’m one of the enlightened ones in a tragic world. Their lyrics and style have simply always spoken to me. There have been bumps in the road (Amnesiac) and holding patters (Hail to the Thief) but with each new album, they give me a little something I never even knew I wanted. And with yesterday’s release of “In Rainbows,” they did it again.
In a fuck you bitch slap to the music industry, Radiohead released their newest album as a digital download available only through their website and are allowing listeners to pick their own price for the album. Pay $0, pay $10 (I paid $20). As the website so kindly instructs, “It’s up to you.”
In Rainbows is a beautifully balanced mix of the melodic and meloncholic, electronic and acoustic. It took two or three listens before each track took hold but, multiple repeats later, it continues to surprise and captivate with both its imagination and deceptive simplicity. From Pablo Honey to Hail to the Thief, elements of each album are felt on “In Rainbows” but are more focused and polished, making it, by far, the most accessible album to new fans since OK Computer.
I won’t go track by track here because this is not a review, but download “In Rainbows” and take it through a couple spins. Maybe you end up liking its quiet, understated beauty and seek out more Radiohead albums or maybe you drag it directly to your trash bin. But either way, you’ll have exposed yourself to something new and that’s not something the music industry often gives us the chance to do these days.