I don’t know who the best band ever is, but it is not Radiohead.
For those of you who agree, you rock.
For those of you disagree, I’m glad I’m not you.
For those of you who have no idea what this is about, allow me to provide some context. This weekend I met an Austin musician and all-around cool fellow, Chris. Among other topics we reminisced about the days of yore, that old timey rock and roll, and modern technologies that can empower listeners. Since I was in the dorms, life has changed dramatically—at least for music downloads. In 2001 there was no such thing as iTunes. There was a dying Napster, a fledling replacement called Kazaa, and a slew of other P2P programs vying for our attention. No matter where your loyalties laid or lie, the end result was the same: music on demand. Livin’ was easy as the downloads flowed harmlessly. I discovered over 100 new artists in a year of perusing other’s music collections, and I’d like to think I exposed other hapless youngsters to their new fleeting favorites.
But times are very different now. The association-that-shall-not-be-named ruined things with questionable attacks on society’s most hardened criminals (college kids, tweens, and grandmothers to name a few). Since launching a campaign against their customers, the association-that-shall-not-be-named found that sales decreased; a fact that can only be remedied with further attacks. As reasonable and high-tech as this approach was, it was not very effective. Fans revolted. Bands revolted. And now it is early 2008. A number of famous bands are releasing their music through their own sites. David Byrne describes the changing industry more eloquently than I could ever hope to, so read this article if you want to know more.
And now you’re in the know, so we get back to the bench where Chris and I are conversing. Radiohead put out their latest album, In Rainbows, online. Even more revolutionary is their pay-what-you-think-its-worth strategy. After a few weeks of independent sales, Radiohead made more money than they would have under a record label. While this was really cool, and I completely support the musical revolution, I do not think that Radiohead is the best band ever.
Still not following? Google for “best band ever” or “critical darling” and you should see Radiohead littering the landscape. If you’re still confused, talk to any hip music buff under the age of 35 and you will be regaled with tales of the greatest band in the world, Radiohead.