Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm sorry, but Radiohead is not a good band

I've tried and tried to see what is so great about them, and there's not anything there. They have occasional flashes of great rock song craft and melodic brilliance, on songs like "Creep" "True Love Waits" and "Karma Police", yet they mostly just seem to dabble in creating clusters of uninspiring noise which critics sycophantically praise.

Now, many a Radiohead fan has told me that Thom Yorke's lyrics are what keep them coming back to the band. Fair enough. I'm not a lyrics person, it's the very last thing that I pay attention to from an artist after I've gone through each instrument and how they relate to each other. I've skimmed through some of the lyrics Yorke has churned out over the years and although not finding anything I thought was brilliant, they don't suck either.

As a musician, I need something I can grab onto. It could be a vocal melody, a drum beat, a subtle bass line, guitar lick or whatever, but I need something. This is where Radiohead fails me the most. I've listened to all of their albums (save the one that came out this year) as a whole and as playlists jumbling the songs haphazardly together, and I've come away unimpressed on nearly every aural level. I occasionally enjoy the melodies that Yorke sings, and although I don't expect technical virtuosity from each band member (Radiohead doesn't strike me as a "look what I can do on my instrument" kind of band), I would like something that grabs me as a listener and makes me want to come back for more.

I think a lot of this comes down to my general boredom with the "avante-gard" or "experimental", or whatever you want to call it, genre. It could simply be down to a matter of taste in that they live in places that, musically, I don't give a shit about. Still, when a band is praised as high and as often as Radiohead is, you at least want to give them a chance and see if they're for you. I've tried many times over the years and have come up with the same conclusion each time: I just don't think they're a good band.


Kathy said...

If you want to listen to a good album this week, check out Greg Allman's new one "Low Country Blues". Maybe it will dull your pain regarding Radiohead!

Alec & Emma Davis said...

I know you said you listened to all their albums, but you gotta give the bends another listen. I'm partial to that album :)

Allemande said...

I'd have to say that the title of this post should be "I don't like Radiohead as a band that much, personally," rather than "Radiohead is not a good band." You do realize you admitted that towards the end of your post that you're not into experimental and avant-garde instrumentalism. :-) There are countless reasons why fans come back to Radiohead, and it's because those people like the musical aesthetics that Radiohead has to offer--- but that doesn't necessarily mean they're not good! In fact, they're great at what they're trying to achieve. I'm sure you have different musical taste though.. I'm also a musician and I just felt like I had to leave a comment because I wouldn't enjoy if other people talk about my musical ideas as "not good," and since you're also a musician, you should know that too!

Tania McCartney said...

I couldn't disagree with you (most politely!) more. I find Radiohead's music incredibly melodic - movingly so. With plenty plenty plenty of musical 'meat' to grab onto, stunning guitar work and gutsy rhythm. Check out Paranoid Android live here - it undoes me. :)