Radiohead's OK Computer

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A&C Black, Aug 11, 2004 - Social Science - 123 pages
Seemingly granted ‘classic album' status within days of its release in 1997, OK Computer transformed Radiohead from a highly promising rock act into The Most Important Band in the World - a label the band has been burdened by (and has fooled around with) ever since. Through close musical analysis of each song, Dai Griffiths explores the themes and ideas that have made this album resonate so deeply with its audience, and argues that OK Computer is one of the most successfully realized CD albums so far created.

But then ‘Karma Police' changes. After the second chorus the track lifts, in various ways. Harmonically, there's a key change of sorts (the sheet music charmingly follows the convention of preparing the reader for the new key signature), from E minor to B minor, although in truth both sections use similar chords. Then vocally or melodically, the key change takes Thom Yorke to his angelic register. Texturally, there's a big shift, with all the instruments doing lighter things. Best to my mind though, there's the one word, phew. Phew's great: it's a cartoon word, like ‘gulp' or ‘zzzz' or ‘bah'. Its precision matters, the fact that it's really there, properly pronounced, not just sort-of-breathed...

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Review: OK Computer (33⅓ #15)

User Review  - Rose Owens - Goodreads

Griffiths provides a quite interesting reading of "Ok Computer" and also predicts the future of Radiohead with surprising accuracy (pretty much said that the group would use a revolutionary tactic to ... Read full review

Selected pages


OK Computer in the Recorded Past
Listening to OK Computer
OK Computer in the future
Final thoughts
NMEMelody Maker Albums of the Year 19902003

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About the author (2004)

Dai Griffiths is Head of the Department of Music at Oxford Brookes University.

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