SirTheory’s Treatise on Life

(opinions on just about anything)

Obligatory Radiohead Post

Radiohead shocked the world two weeks ago with the news that they had just recorded an album and that it would be available as a download starting today (Oct. 10th) on a– get this– “pay what you want” basis. Many people who would have simply P2Ped it gave $0. Then the hardcore Radiohead fans who wanted to support the band on such a venture gave up to $20 for the download. I paid ~$4, which seemed worthwhile for a download of our generation’s Beatles.

I got the link this morning to download the album from Radiohead and was surprised that the download took a mere minute and a half. I figured that the high traffic of everyone and their mother trying to download the album would really slow things down. Thankfully that was not the case and within ten minutes of waking up I had the album downloaded, on my iPod, and was on track two while walking to my General Astronomy class.

In Rainbows seems to be more about subtle nuance than most of their catalog. My favorite Radiohead album was, and remains, Hail To The Thief, due to how three dimensional the album and songs feel. The other Radiohead albums always struck me as feeling more two dimensional. In Rainbows seems to return to two dimensions, at least initially. Yet the afore mentioned subtle nuances allows it to breathe freer than the sum of its parts would imply. But that is Radiohead for you: their albums often feel like more than they should.

At this point, trying to determine how this album ranks among the rest of Radiohead’s output would be an exercise in futility. Indeed, even trying to pinpoint the best track from the album would be a pointless task. It is just too early to be able to tell. But what can be told is that for an album where you could pay what you wanted, you got your money’s worth. The songs are not throw-away tracks that won’t be worth keeping around. Nor do they feel like b-sides from past albums. In Rainbows feels like a genuine album. It is merely missing the packaging and heightened anticipation that accompanies most normal releases.

Of course, for those who have yet to purchase the download the question remains of how much to pay for it. If you have no interest in a physical release if and when one comes, then I’d go with $5-$8 for it. If you plan on picking up the physical release (if and when) then I’d suggest somewhere between $1 and $4. I picked the $4 because I don’t want to take advantage of the system while also realizing that this is a digital release and, with my $4 Radiohead is still making more money on the download than they would have from a major label release in physical CD form.

Regardless, kudos to Radiohead for this interesting experiment. While I don’t see this exact format working for most normal bands, the fact that a major band such as Radiohead pulled it off will definitely be something the industry takes a long, hard look at. It will also be interesting, once there is an actual physical release of the album on a label, to see how that sells after the digital release. Only time will tell.

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment