This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's "Kid A" and the Beginning of the 21st Century (Hardcover)
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THE MAKING AND MEANING OF RADIOHEAD'S GROUNDBREAKING, CONTROVERSIAL, EPOCHDEFINING ALBUM, KID A.
In 1999, as the end of an old century loomed, five musicians entered a recording studio in Paris without a deadline. Their band was widely recognized as the best and most forward-thinking in rock, a rarefied status granting them the time, money, and space to make a masterpiece. But Radiohead didn't want to make another rock record. Instead, they set out to create the future.
For more than a year, they battled writer's block, intra-band disagreements, and crippling self-doubt. In the end, however, they produced an album that was not only a complete departure from their prior guitar-based rock sound, it was the sound of a new era-and it embodied widespread changes catalyzed by emerging technologies just beginning to take hold of the culture. What they created was Kid A.
Upon its release in 2000, Radiohead's fourth album divided critics. Some called it an instant classic; others, such as the UK music magazine Melody Maker, deemed it "tubby, ostentatious, self-congratulatory... whiny old rubbish." But two decades later, Kid A sounds like nothing less than an overture for the chaos and confusion of the twenty-first century.
Acclaimed rock critic Steven Hyden digs deep into the songs, history, legacy, and mystique of Kid A, outlining the album's pervasive influence and impact on culture in time for its twentieth anniversary in 2020. Deploying a mix of criticism, journalism, and personal memoir, Hyden skillfully revisits this enigmatic, alluring LP and investigates the many ways in which Kid A shaped and foreshadowed our world.
About the Author
STEVEN HYDEN is the author of Twilight of the Gods, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and (with Steve Gorman) Hard to Handle. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Billboard, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Grantland, The A.V. Club, Slate, and Salon. He is currently the cultural critic at UPROXX. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.
The Wall Street Journal, Arts & Entertainment Fall 2020 Preview
Jam Base, "Top Music Books of 2020"
Happening not only is an excellent way to revisit Kid
A but also a springboard for thinking about the shifting fortunes
of rock music, the Internet, and the uneasy century we've been living in for
the past 20 years."—Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
"If there was ever an album that deserves a
book-length exegesis, it's Kid A, and
there's no one better than Steven Hyden to unpack its mythologies and
prophecies, and the extraordinary way it appeared to set the stage for the
century that followed. This Isn't
Happening is a smart, riveting, and dynamic history of a watershed moment
for both music and the world."—Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records
"Even if you've immersed yourself in Kid A thousands
of times, Steven Hyden's passionately argued and kaleidoscopic This
Isn't Happening will make you rethink and reimagine Radiohead's most
audacious album and its place in cultural history--and history itself."—David Browne, author, Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup
"Radiohead, music, and culture all stood at a
crossroads in the year 2000. With insight and grace, Steven Hyden explores the
ways in which the Kid A album pointed toward a future that no
one could fully imagine--and captured a moment that, two decades later,
we're still trying to comprehend."—Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" and host of "Debatable" on SiriusXM
Happening is beyond a
mere analysis of Kid A. It is a vast and
contextual examination of the world, both inside and outside of Radiohead,
leading up to and flowing away from the creation of Kid A and
its impact on both the band and culture as a whole. Connecting the record
to film, politics, current events, and the cultural morass that comprised the
final moments of the '90s, Steven Hyden gleefully and with meticulous absurdity
dissects, deconstructs, and decodes the first great artistic enigma of the new
millennium."—Alex Ross Perry, writer/director of Her Smell, Listen Up Philip, and The Color Wheel
"[Hyden is] one
of America's foremost rock critics."
—Wall Street Journal
Isn't Happening is a
foundational text for understanding a difficult, prophetic album, and an
addictive read for any fan of Radiohead."—Buzzfeed
"Hyden provides a thorough primer on
the sound of Kid A...But Hyden truly excels at
illuminating the context of Kid A, from the
prerelease expectations to the oft-rapturous reviews to the music's ultimate
conversational irreverence of the guy sitting down at the bar, Hyden draws
connections to hybrid rock acts like Linkin Park, surreal and misanthropic
blockbusters like Fight Club and Vanilla Sky, the
internet's transformation from a utopian dream into a dystopian nightmare, and
the tragedy on 9/11. For good measure (and fan service), he bookends This
Isn't Happening's cultural insights with key Radiohead-related events occurring
before and after the album."—Pitchfork
readable...[and] enthralling"—Bad Feeling Magazine
"[Hyden] writes like
the best kind of music fan: informed and inviting...A knowledgeable, earnest,
always persuasive testament to a cultural touchstone."—Kirkus Reviews