Today marks the 10th anniversary of Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’. October 2nd, 2000 was the official release date of the band’s fourth album. ‘Kid A’ went platinum in the first week of release in the UK and is now considered a classic album in music history.
The year 2000; We all survived the millennium bug, but we were still waiting for Radiohead to release a follow-up for Radiohead’s third album: ‘OK Computer’. After the release of ‘OK Computer’ in 1997, Radiohead were considered one of the most important bands in (alternative) rock. An intensive tour followed in 1997 and 1998. Then it got rather quiet. But what would Radiohead come up with to surpass their album with classics like ‘Karma Police’, ‘No Surprises’ and ‘Paranoid Android’.
what a fucking week……..sometimes i feel like the nature of this band is that we have to do things the hard way……to use a terrible football cliche……snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat…………….fucking hell ron, thank god all weeks aren’t like this, otherwise it would be early baths…….not that i’m going to elaborate any further………..the only thing that need concern anyone is that the songs sound fucking ace on the whole……nicely diverse.
i’ll write much more next week and apologies for the excessive use of the word fuck.
Early March 2000, we posted that the band have set themselves a deadline for the release of the new album: It should be finished in April and released in September 2000. Radiohead were working on 30 songs and made a shortlist of 16: the 8.5 minute long Cuttooth, Egyptian Song, Dollars and Cents, Everyone (The National Anthem), Follow Me Around, How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, I Will, Keep the Wolf From the Door, Kinetic, Knives Out, Lost at Sea (In Limbo), Morning Bell, Motion Picture Soundtrack, Optimistic, True Love Waits, You And Whose Army. Radiohead had been recording in Paris and Copenhagen. At the end of May we had hints that a new album, produced by Nigel Godrich, was going to be released on October 2nd in Europe and October 3rd in North America.
In the meantime Radiohead announced a tour for June and July. For September and October the band were set to tour with their own tent in European parks. Jonny Greenwood on that decision: “We don’t want to play in those venues that are designed for sport and have Coca Cola adverts everywhere. That’s not what we want to do really. We’ll make our own neutral space that’s got nothing in it and play some concerts like that”.
Capitol Records started their marketing campaign mainly on the internet. The label made ‘iBlips’; widgets with snippets of music from the album and a pre-order link, which fans could embed on their sites and blogs. More blips, short animated movies aired on MTV and other TV channels. The releases was highly anticipated by fans and the press and apart from people calling the album ‘commercial suicide’, not releasing any singles, Kid A hit the number one spot in the UK, USA, Canada, France, New Zealand and Ireland. It turned out to be Radiohead’s first number one album in the USA and nominated for Best Album at the Grammy’s and was awarded for Best Alternative Album. A decade later ‘Kid A’ was voted best album album of the past decade by The Times, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.
On a personal note: I went to see Radiohead in Berlin early July 2000. That was the closest I could get on their June/July tour. In a beautiful and small room, the ‘Großer Sendesaal des SFB’, the band played a phenomenal show debuting songs like ‘Everyone (The National Anthem)’, ‘In Limbo’, ‘Kid A’, ‘Dollars and Cents’, ‘Optimistic’, ‘Morning Bell’, ‘You and Whose Army?’, ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Everything In Its Right Place’. Definitely one of the best Radiohead shows I’ve seen so far.
Only a month later, I got an email from a journalist, saying he had a copy of the new Radiohead album. I think it was recorded at the CD factory. He met the guy at Amsterdam Central Station, but the journalist brought a discman (yes! for CD’s you know) to check if it was really Radiohead he recorded. And actually, he wasn’t quite sure when he heard the first track. However, Thom Yorke’s voice gave it away and proved this was the real deal. I was handed a copy and really excited to have the new Radiohead album in my hands. But to be honest; at first it sounded much colder than the versions of the songs I heard them play in Berlin. Of course, I didn’t give up on Radiohead just there and gave it a lot of plays. A took a while and slowly, but surely ‘Kid A’ turned into my all time favourite album. I surprised myself, when I realised I like this album better than my adored ‘OK Computer’.
Closer to home, and this time in a tent, Radiohead played two shows at Goffertpark in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Both shows (for 10,000 people each night) in September 2000, proved Radiohead could pull it off. Playing a great set, with songs from this ‘difficult’ and ‘inaccessible’ album. Two weeks later, on September 27th I was able to get my ‘real’ copy of this groundbreaking album (albums in The Netherlands are available the Friday before the actual release date). (Un)fortunately, the ones shipped in the Netherlands were mispressings. The first 40 seconds were from the last part of a Pearl Jam concert. 150,000 albums were recalled. Decided to hold on to mine for a while… Bought a new copy as soon as it was available. Right now, 10 years later, I’m going to give it another spin. Probably for the tenth thousand time; Kid A: Everything in its right place…
PS Would love to read your thoughts on Kid A. Drop them in the comments…