Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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OK Computer



A dozen songs of terror and oblivion and hope.

Few albums so audacious, innovative, and anxious have ever captured the popular imagination like OK Computer. It’s a triumph that not only announced a new frontier in rock exploration, it also articulated budding pre-millennial interest in—and concern over—our technological toys. In a dozen songs of terror and oblivion, Thom Yorke is so alienated by the society spinning around him that he pines to be abducted by aliens so that he may witness “the world as I’d love to see it.” It remains a deeply unsettling song cycle that is also deeply magnetic, its reordering of rock ’n’ roll’s sounds with classical ambition making it one of the form’s most radical and necessary statements.

For all of its dread, OK Computer is ultimately an act of hope, the expression of a belief that our inexorable path of progress does not have to cost us our goodness. And if there is a remedy to the dizzying pace of, well, everything, it’s simple enough: “Idiot, slow down,” Yorke sings for the last words of closer “The Tourist.” In the decades since OK Computer made Radiohead rock’s new standard-bearers, its grievances—namely, our accelerating isolation—have only mounted. But the answers and the hope it holds linger still.