How do you start to talk about an album that has been considered one of the best albums of the ’90s? How can anything I say even come remotely close to describing what a masterpiece this album was? There are no words to give justice to OK Computer by Radiohead. It is definitely in my top 100 albums and I’m sure it’s in yours too but I didn’t discover Radiohead through their music.
OK Computer came out in 1997 and was the third studio album for the English rock group. As I’ve mentioned before, when I was younger and first discovering music for myself, I would stay up late and watch MTV after my parents went to sleep. I loved music videos, of course, back in the ’90s there was something to actually love about music videos. When I first saw the video for “Paranoid Android” I didn’t think it was a music video at first.
The video is animated, so I guess I assumed that the character in the video would start talking eventually but halfway through the almost 7 minute song, I finally figured out it was a music video. Lead singer Thom Yorke has the most calming and strangely beautiful voice. To this day, there still isn’t anyone that you can say comes close to that sound. What I really like about the song is the non-traditional points of it. In a typical song, it goes verse-chorus-verse essentially. “Paranoid Android” lacks that formula, which makes it stand out in my opinion. I also really love the grandeur of it all. Starts up slow, building up tension, reaches a climax to calm back down only to pick up again. Songs that are so dramatic and tell a story remind me of Queen and Freddy Mercury.
“Karma Police” provided me with a lot of comfort in my teen years and still does to this day. I am a firm believer in karma, and this song to me was a warning to those for didn’t believe in it or had bad karma. “This is what you’ll get when you mess with us” means (to me) this (karma) is what you’ll get when you’re cruel to other people. I don’t remember where I read it, but I do recall reading a quote by Thom Yorke that said “Karma is important. The idea that something like karma exists makes me happy. “ The video perfectly executes the idea of karma with a man running from a car. The car symbolizes karma and the man is running from it but sooner or later, good or bad, karma will catch up with you.
Besides the popular songs on the album, my favorite by far was “No Surprises”. It had such a harsh and sad topic but the music was sweet and gentle like a lullaby. “A heart that’s full up like a landfill A job that slowly kills you Bruises that won’t heal” it sounds like a final lament or a suicide note that lulls you into a false sense of security with the soft music. I love the contrast between calm and frantic. The lyrics are about someone who just can’t keep themselves together and just can’t handle it anymore but the music wants to almost sedate you into a calm state.
This is one album that will never get old and I think will stay on everyone’s “favorite album of all time” lists. I love the obscurity and the beauty of Radiohead’s music and those qualities shine in OK Computer. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, now would be a good time.
Written by Katie Sperduti