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A Beginner’s Guide to Radiohead

February 27, 2012

A recent survey conducted by the Institute for Insightful Analysis determined that Radiohead fans are the dorkiest music fans in the world. The comprehensive survey also verified that Radiohead fans have a reputation for being a right miserable lot of back-biters, a cadre of lonely young men and women whose sole pleasure is dissecting everything the band does and then criticizing it for not being as good as their earlier work.

These findings have been corroborated by earlier statements from renowned rock critic, Oasis guitarist and lead singer Liam Gallagher:

“I’ve mellowed, but not in the sense of liking Radiohead or Coldplay. I don’t hate them. I don’t wish they had accidents. I think their fans are boring and ugly and they don’t look like they’re having a good time.”

As creators of one of the most divisive catalogues in music history, Radiohead have earned the love, respect and contempt of computer geeks, nerds and trolls from all walks of life who remain firmly entrenched in two camps: those who yearn for the return of the giant, shredding guitars of the band’s first three albums, Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer, and those who long for a worthy successor to Radiohead’s most avant-garde experiments on Kid A.

Radiohead’s Notoriously Unstable Fans

For those of you don’t know a Pablo Honey from a Kid A, this is an introduction to the esoteric world of Radiohead.

• Radiohead first became popular in 1993 following the success of the single “Creep” from their first album Pablo Honey, a song the band didn’t like and which guitarist Jonny Greenwood tried to ruin with its now signature crunching guitar sound.

• Radiohead’s second album The Bends is a classic of the genre and arguably their best album.

• Following the release of their third album, OK Computer (arguably their best album), Radiohead were hailed as the “saviors of rock and roll.”

• On their fourth album, Kid A, Radiohead abandoned guitars almost entirely in favor of experiments with keyboards, strings and brass. It is arguably their best album.

• Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke has a lazy eye.

• Yorke often debuts skeletons of new songs on guitar or piano at shows or charity events prior to recording them with the full band. “The Present Tense” was one of the new songs that he premiered acoustically but was never recorded.

• Some of their most famous live songs, including “Lift”, “Big Boots” and “True Love Waits” have never been properly recorded in the studio.

• Radiohead released their seventh album In Rainbows independently with their now famous pay-what-you-want scheme. The release of In Rainbows was preceded by a series of cryptic messages that revealed information about the album and followed by a webcast of the band performing the new material live in the studio.

• Radiohead fans pursue their fandom with the zealotry of a military campaign, pouring over every morsel of press, dissecting packaging and song lyrics and parsing through every vague clue that pours out of the Radiohead camp.

• The band sometimes leaks disinformation through the Twitter account of a character called Chieftain Mews.

• Radiohead self-released their eighth album The King of Limbs and called it the first ever "Newspaper" album. The album itself was accompanied by a newspaper filled with stories, lyrics, artwork and poetry.

• Anticipation for the album crested and fell when it clocked in at only eight songs under 40 minutes, leaving fans speculating that there must be more, a second disc of songs that the band was keeping back to release in a special sequence.

• The dorkiest fans in music went through some extreme calisthenics looking for clues about additional releases. A whole website called The King of Limbs Part 2 was dedicated to giving voice to each and every theory. In one thread, fans examined a press photo of the band standing in the woods and argued over the existence of symbols in the leaves on the ground where there were none.

• Rumors spread by deranged fans that the albums would be released during full moons and equinoxes and that there would be eight records in total, based on an eight-pointed image on The King of Limbs CD.

• Despite a prolific set of remixes and a couple of B-sides, there were no parts two through eight, only disappointment.

Radiohead’s Biggest Fan Reacts

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