I remember when my brother brought home a copy of OK Computer by Radiohead. For someone like me, who was basically musically illiterate at the age of 13, I didn’t realize the impact this album would have on the music industry. I can remember bringing it to my technology class (yeah, we used to have those) and listening to it while I worked on my Excel sheets and thinking how futuristic it sounded. Maybe if I had been into Bowie sooner, I would have seen the influence in OK Computer but to me, it sounded new and exciting.
OK Computer became the soundtrack to my high school career. It was hidden in the movies and TV shows that I was watching. It was mentioned on Much Music as maybe the closest thing to a masterpiece in our time. I suppose it had cascading effects in the wake of the departed Kurt Cobain. Listening to the album now as an adult, I can appreciate it more than I did as a teenager. From the poetry in the lyrics to the composition to the arrangement of the music. The production of the album still holds up as one of the better albums that came out of the late ‘90s.
There aren’t many albums that stand out in my memory as impactful as OK Computer. I often wonder what I would have been like had I not fallen into the trap of gross pop music in my mid-teens. I managed to pull out of it by my late teens to take on musical wonders like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. It’s not as though I didn’t have access to all the classic rock my heart could handle, my father kept all his records while other people were getting rid of their vinyl at the time.
There’s been a resurgence in ‘90s culture in our society. I don’t know if it’s our rocky political climate or just the circular nature of fashion, but I see kids wearing what I wore as a teen coming back into style. I am not surprised that 90s shows like the X-Files are being picked up again and catching people’s attention. It’s of no surprise that OK Computer was a mix of influences of Jazz and Noam Chomsky. Known for his political writings, Chomsky brings attention to details in our society that our governments would rather us not look at.
If you have not had a chance to sit down and listen to OK Computer yet, I suggest that you do so. Not only is the album a piece of musical history but it will live on as a record of artistic integrity in an era of music when sales were more important than the art.