“Optimistic” tells fans that doing their best is good enough. Beyond that, the messages are generally neutral and obscure with lines like “I slipped on a little white lie/We’ve got heads on sticks/You’ve got ventriloquists” and “This one went to market/This one just came out of the swamp/This one dropped a payload.” Nebulous.
The singer on “Motion Picture Soundtrack” believes that red wine, cheap sex and sleeping pills will help him bounce back. “Morning Bell” repeats the line “Cut the kids in half” (trouble if taken literally, but it may be a cryptic reference to how divorce rips at children). A hidden booklet in the CD’s jewel case includes morbid violence and sexual phrases. It also features the f-word.
This Grammy-winning, five-man band from England (named after a Talking Heads song) has found success despite an unconventional marketing strategy. No singles released to radio. No music videos. No U.S. tour. Yet Kid A spent its first week at the top of the pop chart. It isn’t a deeply offensive disc. Still, it’s a downer. Time magazine credits Radiohead with “capturing the numbing ambivalence that many people feel about living in a microprocessed age.” Maybe, but teens shouldn’t waste their time on what feels like a 50-minute soundtrack from a despairing hallucination.