In 1993, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. said, "Radiohead are so good they scare me." Since then, Radiohead has indeed become one of the most influential and universally respected bands of our generation. They are one of the very few bands that successfully combine musical creativity and technical genius with genuine emotion and honesty. Their lyrics reflect the band's keen awareness of the human psychology, world politics, and the literary tradition of the past and present. We will look closely at the connections between Radiohead's lyrics, music, video, and artwork, in hopes of gaining a deeper appreciation for Radiohead and popular music as a legitimate art form.
Goal of the course
Students will learn to appreciate how the music, lyrics, and the structure of an album reinforce each other to create a single, complete piece. They will learn to approach these aspects of the band with a critical ear and document their observations and analyses in weekly assignments, as if they were writing for a music journal. Students will also analyze album art, and think of the albums as parts of larger political and social contexts. The skills learned in this course may be used to analyze other pop artists of the past, present and future, and could easily be applied to critiquing other art forms.
Students will write a minimum 1-page paper in the form of a critical article for each album we discuss. This may include critiques, opinions, and observations formed by an individual song or the album as a whole. The facilitators will occasionally assign, on weeks with no assignments, short-hand writing assignments in response to live performances of songs or b-sides not discussed during class. This will replicate a music critic’s job of listening to something new and discussing it in a coherent, thought-provoking manner. Throughout the course, students will be working on a semester-long assignment: creating something, whether it be written, visual, or audial, to be included in a class music journal. This will be the final assignment.