Friday, May 13, 2011

Radiohead - Everything In It's Right Place

Here is a link to the video; I highly recommend listening, then reading my article for understanding, then taking a second listen.  This song will blow your mind.

        Lead singer Thom Yorke touches genius on this track as he plays piano and sings into a condenser mic.  The song's time signature is 10/4; the beats are heard in the bassdrum (count the bassdrum hits until you get to 10 and start over; that is the phrasing of the song).
At the beginning of the song guitarist Ed O'brien uses a loop of lyrics from later in the song.  This loop of Yorke's voice sounds like it is repeating 'Kid A', which is the name of the album. (In reality the loop is a backwards lyric from the end of the song.)
So far, nothing is in it's right place.  We have an extremely unusual time signature, Yorke playing dissonant chords on an electric piano and a faint, ghostly 'Kid A, Kid A.'  Manipulated vocal samples from the middle of the song: “woke sucking on lemons” can be heard briefly and then...
Thom Yorke begins to sing...
“Everything, everything, everything, everything, in its right place.”
The house beat on the kick drum (bass drum) has taken over.  Yorke's voice sails smoothly over the electronic melody his fingers dance on.  Guitarist Johnny Greenwood's manipulation of Yorke's voice builds in the background.  
The lyrics, “yesterday I woke up suckin a lemon,” refers to a sour disposition.  The lyrics are relatively ambiguous, however, as most of Radiohead lyrics are.  The line can also sound, “Yesterday I woke up stuck in hollywood,” and Yorke has been known to blend the lyrics during live shows.  Also during their shows, Drummer Phil Selway uses a salt shaker in the shape of a lemon to accent the eighth notes while Greenwood and O'Brien use effects pedals and manipulators to 'remix' Yorke's voice. The ambiance builds during the next chorus into chaos leading to a non-climactic second verse: “There are two colors in my head,” possibly refering to our two party political system.
At this point the listener has only heard 3 lines of lyrics, yet they all say so much.  Many have speculated that Yorke's words were very political, suggesting that the song reflects the down-ward spiral of the modern age.  The modern 'house' (techno term) beat with heavy reliance on electronic and ambient sound are ideal timbers to express that the current two party system (two colors) creates a sour disposition (also highlighted by the dissonant chord structure and use of the phrygian mode).  Nothing is in the right place, but that is right where it belongs.
With heavy vocal manipulations in the background Yorke sings the last verse, “What was that you tried to say?”  A gentle chorus follows the verse and the song fades to silence.

This track opens the album Kid A, which has been called the best album of it's decade by Rollingstone, Pitchfork and Time Magazine.  The imagery and symbloyism used in this song are a mere example of the albums brillance as a whole.  I highly recommend shutting your eyes, opening your ears and listening straight through.


  1. this album changed my life back in the day

  2. Radiohead filled lot of my hours with nice music.

  3. cool blog following and supporting score

  4. Remembers me how much i like radiohead! Also good blog + follow!

  5. Great post, followed <3 radiohead

  6. ive had so many people recommend me radiohead, and i just hate it. idk why, it seems like itd be right up my alley too. sigh.

  7. radiohead. always a great choice

  8. Cool analysis. Do the song Such a Mess by Annuals. I'd love to hear what you come up with for lyrics, mostly.

  9. What a great article. I think this could be my favourite Radiohead song, absolute genius!

  10. I really dig this track.
    Nice work.

  11. Great vid. Radiohead surely rocks.