Friday, July 08, 2011

90's Hit Parade, #49


Radiohead - Paranoid Android

Like most people my age, I spent a great deal of the last 15 years bitching about how MTV didn't play music videos anymore. In retrospect, I'm not sure why. Most music videos are horrible, and can you imagine a bigger waste of time than sitting around watching videos? Well, that's an easy set up of course: a bigger waste of time would be watching the original programming that replaced them. MTV really was a bad habit, and in fact I watched a lot of that original programming because I retained a Pavlovian need to turn the TV onto that channel where the videos used to be. Some of it was OK: Beavis and Butthead was fun, at least for a while, and Daria and The Maxx were both awesome, but I also watched junk like Dead at 21 (about a teenager who had received super intelligence from a government experiment, but never did a smart thing in the whole run of the show) and The Real World (I watched the second and third seasons, and might have watched more if Puck hadn't made season three so unwatchable).

Anyway, I'm pretty sure the last time I regularly tuned into MTV was for The Osbournes. And in the minutes before and after The Osbournes, I remember two things. First, seeing Kurt Loder announce that Rob Halford had come out of the closet. This was funny, because just a couple days before, a friend and I had been talking about Judas Priest, and I came to the realization that their whole act was basically a gay fetish show (something I'd never realized as a metal-obsessed youth). The second thing was, I saw this demented animated video for a dark prog rock epic. Captivating, ain't it? I watched to the end to find out the band, and it was by Radiohead! The band that had that awful song "Creep" a few years ago (or was Radiohead the band that did "Connected"? I always got them mixed up)! I didn't realize at the time that Radiohead had followed up their lame debut (which, to be honest, might be a great album aside from "Creep"--I've still never heard it) with a fine rock album called The Bends. I wasn't even aware they were still around. They completely blindsided me with this one.

"Paranoid Android" is as dark and paranoid as the title implies, and gave me the first real hint of Thom Yorke's strange, trance-like singing (my favorite moment being the way he suddenly begins chanting the line "God loves his children" before breaking into a distorted guitar section). Maybe it's because of a nursery rhyme that I remember, but when Yorke sings "When I am king, you will be..." my mind always anticipates "...my queen," and is always shocked to get "first against the wall" instead.

I still think "Creep" is a pretty awful song, though.

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