In a brilliant, incisive, all-over-excellent piece, the incredible Rob Sheffield celebrates Kid A's 15th birthday in Rolling Stone. Here's the full article: How Radiohead Shocked the World: A 15th-Anniversary Salute to 'Kid A'.
It's a terrific essay and thank heavens that much like pornography, you know great writing when you see it.
Examples: Here's the confusion that swept over devoted fans:
Whether you loved or hated Kid A, it gave undeniable entertainment value. All through the miserable fall of 2000, the debates raged on. Is it a masterpiece? A hype? A compendium of clichés? Will it stand the test of time? Why aren't "Knives Out" or "You and What Army" on this album? Where'd you park the car? Is Al Gore blowing it on purpose? Why didn't the umpires toss Clemens after he threw the bat? Where's "Pyramid Song"? Who let the dogs out? When is the second half of this album coming out — you know, the half with the actual Radiohead songs? How did they get away with that in Florida? Is this really happening?
Understandably, there was initial bewilderment and backlash:
The funniest review came from Select, the best Britpop mag of the era: "What do they want for sounding like the Aphex Twin circa 1993, a medal?"
However, only Radiohead could pull it off:
That was part of the romance of loving Radiohead — this band always did have a tendency to over-egg the pudding. I mean, if the trees you're singing about are "plastic," you probably don't need to add that they're also "fake," least of all in the title. But it's that hyper-adolescent overstatement that makes the "fake plaaa-haaastic trees" line — and the song title, and the song — so emotionally powerful. "Fake Plastic Trees" would have been easier to take if it had been called "Green Plastic Trees" or "Blue Vinyl Trees" or something — more subtle, more adult, more intelligent. But it would have been a lesser song...
At that point, it seemed like Radiohead were the only Nineties band left who still wanted to be a Nineties band —
The entire article glows with several such rare gems and has been casually, effortlessly sprinkled with deep observations about the then ascendant alternative scene.
Do read the whole thing.
(Those who know NF personally, are probably aware that he's a massive, massive fan of Radiohead in general and Kid A in particular. Indeed it was Kid A that personally got NF through six weeks of his only foray into real life inside a Fremont cubicle. (He'd listen to it on a loop and would often gaze longingly at the clock, willing it to tick faster.)
Sadly though, Radiohead is his only favorite band he hasn't seen live yet. (GY!BE check, Mogwai check, Pixies check.) Circumstances seem to be conspiring to make this permanently so. Boo.)
This is how journalism is meant to be. Read the piece and feel its pulse. It's alive and it'll kick some serious ass yet.