OK Computer: 25 Years After the Big Prediction

OK Computer — Radiohead (1997)

OK Computer is perhaps one of the best things that happened in the late 90s, it took alternative rock out of the boundaries and exposed the reality that is still relevant after all these years. Radiohead drew us away from the party music that rules at the time and let us reflect on what we had gotten ourselves into.

Getting inspiration from rock pioneers such as The Beatles and Pixies, jazz experimentalist Miles Davis to trip-hop mover DJ Shadow. OK Computer distinguish itself from other rock albums that year without eliminate desperation feeling from the previous album.

The opener “Airbag” straightly strikes us with grungy riffs and threatening drum machines, describing the feeling of relief and courageous after a life flashed before their eyes. Metaphoring the glimpse of death from narrator’s point of view.

Listening to “Paranoid Android” is like waking up to the worst scenario you could ever imagine and having no idea how to deal with it, Thom Yorke’s earnest yet vulnerable voice accompanied by eerie bossa nova rhythms building the first part of the song until the heavy outrages burst that pulling you to symphony hole of penance.

“Subterranean Homesick Alien” is a psychedelic lifter inspired by the atmosphere created by Miles Davis in his 1970s album “Bitches Brew”. Thom Yorke wrote about being alienated and isolated from the rest of the world, discovering unrecognizable aliens who lock up their spirits and hide true secrets in an attempt to portray themselves as functioning members of society.

“Let Down” reminding us the feeling of disconnection from the surroundings, transport from one place to another without getting any affection from it. Being fed up with fictitious emotions and still having to deal with it somehow, hoping one day the greatness will come.

“Karma Police” is a minor ballad that is filled up with a humorous haunting melody, and feels like a revenge song after years of constant manipulation and hypocrisy. “Fitter Happier” encapsulated how society defines reality based on a single norm, a unique approach to condense the album’s message.

“Climbing Up the Walls” is the ultimate meltdown of anxiety and paranoia that has built throughout the album, It reflects how chaotic someone’s thoughts are with an unstable mental state.

Thom Yorke describes “No Surprises” as “someone who’s trying hard to keep it together but can’t”, with the imagery of unfulfilled life and unavailing government.

After 48 minutes of anguish and deterioration, the album concludes with “The Tourist”, a moribund voice urging us to slow down and take a breather. Giving the listener a sigh of relaxation and the expectation that an elation feeling will appear.

OK Computer foresees the realities that future generations will confront and is being blunt about it. Making it the most defining album of the 90s(my opinion) and providing new way to approach modern rock music.

Happy twenty-fifth anniversary, OK Computer!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store