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Radiohead and the effect on 5th graders..

Old 09-20-03, 03:41 AM
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Radiohead and the effect on 5th graders..

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues...l/1/index.html
Radiohead Rorschach
An innocent fifth grader's picture is worth a thousand-word critical analysis.
BY ROB HARVILLA
[email protected]

It is no longer possible to have an original opinion on Radiohead.
You've absorbed the deified albums, quarreled over the rock critic pontifications, frowned at the guarded, combative interviews. Thom Yorke's ugly-stick-beaten mug has peered at you from the pages of every magazine known to man; his every word and every note has ignited its own individual Internet flame war. Mass media has bombarded us with Radiohead critique, rendering us unable to generate an unfiltered opinion of our own.

When you listen to Radiohead, you're no longer actually listening to Radiohead -- you're listening to everyone's opinion about Radiohead. It's impossible to separate what you hear from what you've read. You are betrayed by what you know, and you know way too much.

Thus, in order to solicit an honest, undiluted opinion about Radiohead, you'd have to find the proverbial People Living Under Rocks. As People Living Under Rocks are unavailable, let's use fifth graders.

Specifically, Mitsi Kato's fifth-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary in San Leandro.

Mitsi has consented to a simple experiment: We will play a career-spanning selection of Radiohead songs; the kids, equipped with Sharpies and blank sheets of paper, will simply draw whatever the music suggests to them. We don't even give them the name of the band. They don't know anything about Radiohead, the mountain of criticism, the mythology. Their thoughts and interpretations are pure, unsullied, literally unique.

They are also extremely bizarre.

The kids consent to this experiment, if only because Mitsi tells them to. They do, however, immediately request that we play Sean Paul or 50 Cent instead.

"This is not hip-hop," Mitsi says. "I'm not asking if you like it."

She doesn't have to ask. They don't.

We begin with Hail to the Thief, Radiohead's latest, a critically adored and hopelessly muddled platter of art rock weirdness. The kids shift restlessly as "2+2=5" sputters into guitar-and-drum-machine gear.

When Thom Yorke's famously tortured croon first surfaces, the whole room starts giggling.

Giggling.

For the first few songs, the kids hardly move, scarcely even changing facial expressions. One girl plants her head on her desk face-first. The "hold your head in your hands and look completely confused" look is extremely popular.

But slowly, they begin drawing. One kid starts scrawling a guitar; the girl next to him immediately begins copying -- an apt metaphor for music criticism.

To dispel the room's chilly vibe, we switch to 2001's slightly less clinical Kid A; the warm keyboards of "Everything in Its Right Place" thaw the kids out a bit. The kid who specifically requested Sean Paul begins drawing what looks like a giant stalk of asparagus.

But let's not peek. So as not to lord over the artists, we snoop around Mitsi's classroom a bit, particularly the official rules for Room 14. Thom Yorke would be in blatant violation of several of these, including "Don't fidget," "Be helpful," and particularly "Keep negative ideas to yourself."

After the droning, horn-blasted dirge of "The Natural Anthem," we throw caution to the wind and toss on OK Computer's truly psychotic guitar freakout "Paranoid Android," which leads to The Bends' far sweeter "High and Dry," which the class seems to like the best. We consider playing Radiohead's debut fluke alt-rock smash "Creep," but the kids might recognize it, and it's profane besides. Instead, perhaps "Anyone Can Play Guitar" will inspire them.

Unlikely. Returning to Hail to the Thief for the grand finale, Mitsi's announcement that "Sail to the Moon" will be our last song earns a chorus of "Yessss" and several robust fist-pumps. Thom has made few fans.

Ah, but the experiment yields about thirty stark, black-and-white Radiohead interpretations that represent the purest, most honest take on the band you'll find anywhere. The kids will now take over; for the rest of you, Radiohead is playing Shoreline Amphitheater Tuesday night. Call ahead before bringing art supplies
pictures at the link.
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Old 09-20-03, 01:55 PM
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haha thanks! that was a fun read. those pictures are great.
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Old 09-20-03, 11:23 PM
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Free suicides!
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Old 09-21-03, 12:54 AM
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Ugh. "the Natural Anthem"?!?!??!

Sigh.
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Old 09-21-03, 01:44 AM
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They could've just come to me, I've never heard a Radiohead song, and I don't know what they sound like, for that matter.
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Old 09-21-03, 07:52 PM
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Well maybe it's time you did hear one

Try

Planet Telex
Paranoid Android
Let Down
Idioteque
I Might Be Wrong
2+2=5
There There
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Old 09-21-03, 10:06 PM
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I love HTTT but I don't get this article at all. Is there a point to be made?
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Old 09-22-03, 03:53 AM
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that suicides are free?
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Old 09-22-03, 10:19 AM
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So they're free AND painless?
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Old 09-22-03, 02:01 PM
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Originally posted by Grimfarrow
Ugh. "the Natural Anthem"?!?!??!

Sigh.
I was sitting here scratching my head wondering how I must have had that title wrong for all these years.
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Old 09-22-03, 09:31 PM
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You know, the outcomes really don't surprise me. at this point, Yorke could collaborate with Mr. Methane and the album would garner critical acclaim.

I like Radiohead, I think they're ok, but it's just nothing at this point. Part of me wants to say they've become the poster children for self-absorbed, self-important "we define art" a-holes, and part of me wants to applaud them for bucking the mainstream of what their music is "supposed to be". The question is...did we really need atmospheric noise from them? No, we have Aphex Twin for that...and it's much better.
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Old 09-22-03, 11:43 PM
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I have never heard Radiohead, and don't wish to hear Radiohead, because I dislike the name "Radiohead", and could never feel right saying 'Hey, you hear that cool Radiohead song?"
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Old 09-22-03, 11:59 PM
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This experiment seems like it would be much better suited for six or seven-year-olds.
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Old 09-23-03, 09:13 AM
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Originally posted by sararekuforever
I have never heard Radiohead, and don't wish to hear Radiohead, because I dislike the name "Radiohead", and could never feel right saying 'Hey, you hear that cool Radiohead song?"
Blame David Byrne for that.

Thom Yorke and his band took their name from the song "Radio Head" by Talking Heads from the True Stories Soundtrack.
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Old 09-23-03, 09:42 AM
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Those drawings are hilarious... and a bit frightening. I'm not sure I ever had thoughts like that when I was 11. Is Radiohead really THAT creepy for kids?

I have a friend who has loved alt-rock for 20 years now, but has gotten out of the loop dealing with a family instead of the latest music trends. A couple of us sent him a bunch of Radiohead music and he emailed me back saying, "Can you tell me what the big deal is with Radiohead?". I laughed because I can understand the sentiment. I like Radiohead quite a bit, but the drooling praise sometimes is too much.
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Old 09-23-03, 11:04 AM
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I hope Jeffrey's parents got a letter sent home to them.
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Old 09-23-03, 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by Mordred
I hope Jeffrey's parents got a letter sent home to them.
"They don't have meetings about rainbows."
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Old 09-24-03, 07:01 AM
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I've never read any opinions or reviews or seen anything on TV or heard anyone on the radio talk about radiohead. I couldn't get past that first part of this article where he said I don't have an original opinion about the band. I did click on the link though and look at the kids drawings.
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