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Dec 16 2019

Inductee Insights

Inductee
Insights:
Radiohead

Always focused on the future, 2019 Inductees Radiohead continue to push boundaries without comprising their restless, experimental vision. The band has taken fans on a sonic journey through alt-rock introspection into art-rock futurism, while simultaneously flipping the music industry on its head. Take a trip through Radiohead’s genre-bending career on the next Inductee Insights, powered by PNC Bank

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Inductee Insights Radiohead

The sonic history of Radiohead

Inductee Insights Radiohead

The sonic history of Radiohead
The Beginning

Founded in the mid-Eighties, Radiohead – who took their name from a Talking Heads song – met as schoolmates outside Oxford, England. Singer-lyricist Thom Yorke, bassist Colin Greenwood, drummer Philip Selway, and guitarists Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood began mixing a variety of musical influences from Pink Floyd to Pixies. Their blistering 1992 single “Creep” took a year to move into Britain’s Top Ten and the American Top Forty but became a smash hit.

While “Creep” introduced them to the 90s alt-rock boom, their sophomore release, The Bends, signaled a shift in their sound. The album’s jarring guitar dynamics and harrowing balladry was a gripping prelude to the experimental sound they would continue to refine. Tracks like “My Iron Lung” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” set the band apart from their Brit pop and grunge peers.

Radiohead reacted to their breakthrough with a dramatic turn away from the mainstream. OK Computer was a dystopian warning for the coming century, replacing alt-rock introspection with art-rock futurism. Blending slashing-guitar turbulence and electronic minimalism, Radiohead saw critical acclaim with their genre-bending 1997 release. The hit singles “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android” have gone on to represent rock’s turn-of-the-century transition.

I am beyond proud of what Radiohead have achieved together and I know that Radiohead wouldn't have become what it what it is without the five of us.

Philip Selway

Heralded as their era’s answer to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, Radiohead once again rebelled against expectations. They entered the 21st century with two albums - Kid A and Amnesiac. Recorded in the same session but released nearly a year apart, the twin albums slammed the door on the driving guitars of the acclaimed OK Computer. Kid A featured the post-rock suites “Everything in Its Right Place” and “How to Disappear Completely,” while Amnesiac became the home for more accessible tracks including “Knives Out.”  

 

Despite their rebellion, Kid A became Radiohead’s first Number One album in America. This unexpected success drove the band to delve deeper into the experimental and challenge audiences over the next two decades. In their most daring act of independence yet, Radiohead released their seventh studio album, In Rainbows, for the price of pay-what-you-want. The revolutionary release questioned the value of music in a digital age, while gifting fans with the songs “Nude” and “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.”

The Future

The short run-time and sudden digital drop of In Rainbows was echoed in the band’s 2011 release, King of Limbs. 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool marked a return to Yorke’s introspective lyrics. Tracks including “Burn the Witch” and “Daydreaming” featured electronic arrangements reminiscent of Kid A.

Always focused on the future rather than the past, Radiohead continue to push boundaries without comprising their restless, experimental vision. Their sound has inspired countless artists including Frank Ocean, Coldplay and Arcade Fire. To this day, they continue to fill arenas and connect with audiences across the globe.

2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Radiohead

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