Last week, Pitchfork posted their People’s List poll results and, not surprisingly, Radiohead’s OK Computer took the top slot (Kid A came in second). Though the poll has generated some controversy-in-the-form-of-thinkpieces since then, few take issue with the winner.
Following our similar collections of Kid A and In Rainbows covers, we celebrate the victor with covers of every song on the classic album. As the Pitchfork poll yet again attests, no one does Radiohead like Radiohead and the best way to cover is to not compete. From big brass bands to bluegrass jams, these twelve artists find ways to do it different.
MP3: The Jane Bradfords – Airbag
Judging by the opening gigs they’ve held down – LCD Soundsystem, The National, Peter Bjorn and John – the Jane Bradfords would seem past due for a breakthrough to match their impressive CV. Their soulful cover of “Airbag” indicates they might deserve the company.
MP3: Sia – Paranoid Android
Indie popstar Sia Furler has always kept unlikely company, writing for the likes of Madonna and Rihanna and recording with David Byrne and Flight of the Conchords. This Radiohead cover, for instance, somehow wormed its way in a Christmas episode of The O.C.
MP3: Kate Walsh – Subterranean Homesick Alien
On her 2010 covers album Peppermint Radio, Kate Walsh strips down Blur, Duran Duran, and the Cure to breathy vocals, bopping piano, and occasional string or percussion flourishes. It’s all she needs.
MP3: Corporate Love Breakdown – Exit Music (For a Film)
Though they recorded an entire bluegrass tribute to Radiohead, Corporate Love Breakdown largely eschew the sing-along hits that tend to dominate these, diving deeper into songs like “Myxomatosis” and “Stop Whispering.” A few OK Computer nods are as populist as they get.
MP3: Pedro the Lion – Let Down
Having covered at least a half dozen or so songs over the years, David Bazan makes no secret that he is a Radiohead superfan. On a rare 2004 tour EP, he takes on the first of many with “Let Down.”
MP3: Brassroots – Karma Police
Brassroots bring tuba, trumpet, and an East London-rocking swing to a song one might have imagined impervious to brass band treatment.
MP3: Anika ft. Obi Blanche – Fitter Happier
Weird and atonal even by Radiohead standards (and a precursor to stranger things to come), “Fitter Happier” is likely the OK Computer track least likely appear on a mixtape. Berlin singer Anika embraces the weirdness on this throbbing, schizoid cover. Twice as long as the original, but no more agreeable.
MP3: Cold War Kids – Electioneering
Let this track be a teaser for Stereogum’s awe-inspiring OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer, where everyone from Vampire Weekend to My Brightest Diamond tries their hand at a track. Cold War Kids bloozy stomp fits this protest song perfectly.
MP3: Cloud Shaped Cloud – Climbing Up the Walls
This wobbly electronica collapsing upon itself approximates what 2012 Radiohead would do covering 1997 Radiohead.
MP3: Regina Spektor – No Surprises
Though her albums tend to have elaborate and off-kilter production these days, Regina Spektor proves with “No Surprises” why no one touches her at a spare piano ballad.
MP3: John Frusciante – Lucky
Ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers axeman John Frusciante only covered this song a few times live, but despite the shaky audio quality his shining vocals remind one his more than just a flashy guitar solo.
MP3: Grand Lake – The Tourist
Bird calls and bell chimes lead into the most heavenly harmonies this side of Fleet Foxes.