I Might Be Wrong: Is Kid A Really A Bad Record?

In my article “But Is It Art?”, I attacked Radiohead for being extremely pretentious, especially during the recording of their fourth record, Kid A.  I also lambasted the music of the record, characterizing it as “listless”. I must apologize, not for calling Radiohead pretentious (see “But Is It Art? for details), but for perhaps unfairly attacking the music of Kid A.  Kid A is not an accessible record, but I disliked it not for that reason; rather, I was disgusted by the pretensions and by Thom Yorke’s statement that Radiohead “just wanted rhythm”, which seemed completely out of touch with the ambient tones of “Treefingers” and lack of rhythmic drive in “Kid A”.    But when removed from the idiocy of the production and the blind worship of Pitchfork Media (in his 10 out of 10 wetdream review for Kid A, Brent DiCrescenzo blathered that “Kid A makes rock and roll childish…Comparing this to other albums is like comparing an aquarium to blue construction paper.”), Kid A stands up as a surprisingly (for me, of course) good record.  

Since the record nearly completely does away with conventional song structure, hooks, and guitars, it’s automatically better than OK Computer, which had just as pretentious but didn’t break enough musical ground to validate the pretensions.  The electronic, IDM sound is the best thing about Kid A, partly because Aphex Twin is so much better than the prog Radiohead emulated before, and partly because Radiohead’s pretensions are suited for chilling electronic tones than a triple-guitar attack; essentially, Kid A is good, perhaps even great, (and probably Radiohead’s best) due to the fact that it’s the only one that measures up to at least some of their pretensions.  Even better, Thom Yorke is less annoying than ever (coincidence that this is the record with the most amount of processed vocals?).  Given the way his listless vocal on Amnesiac’s Pyramid Song nearly undermines the track, it’s to Yorke’s great credit that the unidentifiable, extremely processed vocals on “Kid A” aren’t the best “singing” on the album.  That credit would go to either “Everything In Its Right Place” (processed, but in no way to the same degree) or “Idioteque” (in which Yorke sounds like he might actually be a good singer.).  

Overall, I still believe that Radiohead are enormously pretentious, and as people they are probably very annoying and overly serious.  But even assholes can have one good record in them, and Kid A is that record.  

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4 Responses to “I Might Be Wrong: Is Kid A Really A Bad Record?”

  1. Radiohead are well understood by you — now how about the rest of the world?

  2. delorean swayze Says:

    lies!

  3. Some Guy Says:

    When I first heard some of the tracks from Kid A I thought: meh. But a few years later it grew on me. It is perhaps their finest work, and one of the best albums ever to be be made. Good artists can be pretentious- but don’t let that get in the way of their work. You mention the word pretentious (including pretentions) 8 times in this article! You sound like a frustrated musician unable to produce anything decent so you are left to deconstruct and criticize those who do..

  4. Thom Yorke Says:

    And you sound like a closet Radiohead fanboy Someguy.

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