Top 5 Albums: OK Computer – Radiohead

For a change of pace this week I have decided to post about my top five favorite albums each day.

My main criteria for an album being in the top five is that I can play the album all the way through without skipping a song. This is a very high bar to clear. Almost every album no matter how much I love the band, has a song on it that I automatically hit skip on. It’s usually that tune where the band is trying to “break out” and falls outside of the vibe of the album. I think bands do this to try and get wider appeal but that track excludes the album from ever being a favorite. Instead I cannibalize the album of the good songs, putting them on a play list and never listen to the offensive songs again.

For a lot of people it is very difficult to just pick 5 favorite albums. For me, it is hard to find even 5. Those in the top 5, are all important to me. And I have listened to…unknown amounts of times.

First up…

  1. OK Computer – Radiohead


What wikipedia says about the album:

OK Computer is the third album by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released on 16 June 1997. Radiohead recorded the album in rural Oxfordshire and Bath, during 1996 and early 1997, with producer Nigel Godrich. Although most of the music is dominated by guitar, OK Computer’s expansive sound and wide range of influences set it apart from many of the Britpop and alternative rock bands popular at the time, and it laid the groundwork for Radiohead’s later, more experimental work. Radiohead do not consider OK Computer a concept album; however, its lyrics and visual artwork emphasis common themes such as consumerism, social disconnection, political stagnation, and modern malaise.

What I say about the album:

Though OK Computer came out just as I was graduating from high school, I did not hear the album until I was a freshmen in college. And other than hearing Creep on MTV (back when MTV played music) I knew nothing about Radiohead. It’s hard to believe there was a time before I knew about Radiohead.

It’s hard for me to remember what drew me in to the album. I think it had a little bit (or a lot) to do with my “sophisticated” sophomore boyfriend liking the album. But aside from that, I think it was because it was so different from any music I had heard before. And I was mesmerized. Thom Yorke’s voice was haunting and it was matched with these strange guitar riffs that still managed to sound very rock and roll. The lyrics of the songs appealed to my budding English major mind, they were like insane poems and I remember reading them over and over trying to analyze them the way I would analyze Chaucer for class. I felt and still feel like the album speaks to a sense of being an outsider in society. I always imagined it to be written from the perspective of an alien to planet earth, though I am not sure every song fits that interpretation. I think it has to do with when I discovered the album. I was just getting started in college and still feeling like I was trying to make a place for myself. And this weird music was a gateway into my adulthood.

After the “sophisticated sophomore” was no longer in my life, I still had my copy of OK Computer. I remember listening to it on repeat while I would write papers during college. I had one college professor that encouraged students to put an acknowledgments section in every paper to thank those that helped you with the paper. More than once I thanked the members of Radiohead for producing OK Computer because the album had kept me going.

I can still listen to this album straight through without stopping and probably listen to it over and over. Often if one of the songs comes on the radio or on a playlist, I fully expect to hear the song that follows it on the track list. And I feel a little disappointment when it does not. It is just excellent music from start to finish. End of story.

Amazon’s Listing for OK Computer

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~ by fortuitousoccurances on March 29, 2010.

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