Author Topic: This Isn't Happening: U2's Influence on Radiohead  (Read 392 times)

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Offline zooguitar

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This Isn't Happening: U2's Influence on Radiohead
« on: September 30, 2020, 12:03:20 PM »
Steve Hyden's new book, This Isn't Happening, came out yesterday. It's a deep dive into Radiohead's Kid A, the making of it, and its larger cultural legacy on both the band and rock music in general.

I loved it. I finished it in one sitting yesterday as I found it very engrossing. There's not quite the "fly on the wall" vibe found in Bill Flanagan's U2 At The End Of The World, which is even quoted at length. But the way Hyden documents a band in creative crisis brings the band into human, relatable dimensions as successfully as Flanagan did with his subjects. Hyden is clearly influenced by that book: he even drops an Easter egg in his book as a tribute to one of Flanagan's most memorable chapters.

There's also a deep exploration of U2's influence on Radiohead, in particular their 90s work. Zooropa is the album that gets the biggest comparison to Kid A: its deft use of electronic noise, the similar themes of alienation and conformity in modern life, and a general dark view of consumer technology. All delivered by the most popular band on the planet determined to subvert their own popularity in order to save their creative souls.

Hyden takes the long view that while the 90s represented U2 at their most creative daring, the band now looks back on almost the entire decade as a "creative misfire". For all of the discussion on this forum about that particular view of U2's career, Hyden goes to great length to document the similar identity issues Radiohead faced post KA. He eloquently notes the high-wire balancing act an artist faces when trying to consciously break with their traditional style, and the challenge to not make that effort feel forced and contrived.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 12:49:35 PM by zooguitar »



Offline Vox

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Re: This Isn't Happening: U2's Influence on Radiohead
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2020, 08:26:04 AM »
Agree.  I remember reading some article a few years back that said something to the affect of without a Zooropa, there would be no Kid A.

There's tremendous truth to that, and U2 don't get enough credit for it. 

But then again, people could say Bowie did essentially the same thing decades before U2, so...  there's that...

Offline Albono

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Re: This Isn't Happening: U2's Influence on Radiohead
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2020, 10:52:45 PM »
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Agree.  I remember reading some article a few years back that said something to the affect of without a Zooropa, there would be no Kid A.

There's tremendous truth to that, and U2 don't get enough credit for it. 

But then again, people could say Bowie did essentially the same thing decades before U2, so...  there's that...


I think it's safe to say that Bowie is a creative influence for both U2 and Radiohead.