Radiohead's "Kid A"

By Andy Battaglia, Michelle Goldberg, Andrew Goodwin and Joe Heim


Letters to the Editor
October 30, 2000 10:32AM (UTC)

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Apparently, the criteria for determining what constitutes rock relevance these days hinges on how arty and mesmerizing the overly tinkered-with, pasteurized and processed final product turns out to be. Pure musical force and raw, bombastic talent don't factor in much anymore. The more ponderous the album, the faster the critics sprint to the finish line to be the first to slap adjectives like "intriguing," "important" and "whimsical" onto whatever techno-electro-fuzzed-out slop was released that week.

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This week's fodder is every rock critic's wet dream: Radiohead. They're a kind of slick impostor band that lead critics and hapless rock fans down the dangerous path of asking, "How relevant is this?" instead of asking, "Does this fucking rock?" Well, I've heard the album, and I'll take bands like the Stooges, L7 and Metallica over Radiohead any day.

-- Matt Hutchinson

It is telling that "Kid A" has produced such a response in the press that Salon feels justified in giving space to multiple critics. The fact is that the varied response to the record testifies to the very relevance of the band. Love it or hate it, it is definitely different from anything else out there today in the mainstream, dominated by cock-jock-rock-rap and teen glitz.

"Kid A" may not be Radiohead's finest work. It may not even come close. But it will be remembered for the varied response of bewildered critics so accustomed to being able to predict/pigeonhole every pop record that comes out. The day "Kid A" came out, the critics woke up sucking a lemon, and they still suck.

-- Chris Johnson

I understand that Radiohead's music is complex and hard to describe, but do we really need to be subjected to the critic's jargon found in the debate over "Kid A's" importance? This article looked like a parody of pretentious critics, full of phrases like "crepuscular beauty," "detonate the bombast," "diaphanous sound washes" and "desolation incandescent." What the hell? Did the critics enjoy the CD? Maybe I could tell if I used a thesaurus as big as theirs, but the critics obviously chose to use as much jargon as possible to avoid presenting a solid opinion of the CD. (By the way, it's damn good.) Please stop encouraging these snobbish fools by publishing their useless reviews!

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-- Naomi Heikalo

The debut of "Kid A" at No. 1 on the charts does not trumpet the death of rock 'n' roll, because rock 'n' roll has been dead for quite some time. It's dreary corpse gets overhauled every few years, dressed up in new clothes and propped in different poses, but these attempts can't cover up the smell of decay or the rigor of a moribund art form.

It seems odd that, at the beginning of the 21st century, rock is an anachronism. What else can rock say? How else can it be used as a form of expression?

Is "Kid A" an important album? There is no longer any such thing. That said, "Kid A" is the perfect album for an age in which the only meaningful protest is that which can never be expressed, and which will never be understood.

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-- Edgar Burke


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