Congratulations—the metamorphosis you didn’t know you needed has just begun. Whether you’ve stumbled upon OK Computer while drifting through a midlife crisis, or a forty-something coworker threw shade on your music playlist (again), it’s clear you’ve embarked on the pilgrimage into Radiohead’s dark, dreamy, and disorienting world.
Welcome, abandon all hope, smile, and settle into the uneasy feeling of being stuck somewhere between melancholy and smug satisfaction.
Setting the Mood
First, dim the lights. No, dimmer. That’s it. Make sure that either it’s raining outside or you’ve got one of those ambient noise apps playing the sound of rain, but like a computerized rain—kind of like if you were taking a shower in the ’90s and logging on to AOL.com at the same time (if you have to ask, just search for fax machine sounds on YouTube). Now, sit in your most uncomfortable chair. This isn’t about comfort, friend. This is about understanding.
Dress Code Rummage
Look through your closet for a pair of old, ripped jeans and the obscure band T-shirt you once bought because you thought it was “cool.” If you own a beanie, now’s the time. This is the look we’re aiming for: “I might be having an existential crisis, but at least I’m trendy.” Think Justin Beiber between album releases or Pete Davidson at a Panda Express.
Understanding the Lyrics
You won’t. Not at first. Or ever. But pretend you do. Nod thoughtfully when Thom Yorke sings about 2 + 2 equalling 5. Smile enigmatically when someone asks you what “Karma Police” is about. It’s about everything and nothing. It’s about karma, but it’s also about police. The true Radiohead experience is 80 percent confusion, 20 percent feigned understanding. That’s the sweet spot. That’s the center of a Yorke peppermint patty.
Explaining to Friends
“Have you heard the B side of Amnesiac?” you’ll ask casually at your next brunch date, sipping a mimosa, an unread but well-leafed-through copy of Naomi Klein’s No Logo prominently placed on the table. Your friends, who embraced Radiohead during their angsty teen years, will shoot each other knowing glances, trying to determine whether you’re joking or you’ve never heard “Knives Out” before. Embrace this space. You are the enigma. You are in control. You are the question and the answer. Order the eggs benedict.
Dealing with the “Fake Fan” Accusations
“You’re only NOW getting into Radiohead?” scoffs the barista with a KID A tattoo. The appropriate response is a solemn nod, followed by, “I was waiting for the right time in my life to truly appreciate it.” Then, ask for almond milk. This has nothing to do with Radiohead; sometimes, you just have to treat yourself.
The Dance Moving
Dancing to Radiohead tunes is a unique art. It’s less “dance” and more “awkward sway while looking deeply troubled.” Stare into the middle distance. Dance with your torso, not your arms or your legs. In your head, multiply 679 by 842. Now, translate that number to binary. Twenty minutes have passed, but you were dancing. Master this, and you’re in.
Hop onto the internet and order some expensive vinyl, even if you don’t own a record player. If you’d like to express your newfound love with a T-shirt (although I would advise against it), go with something that doesn’t have the band’s name printed on it. Maybe something with a phrase in big letters that are not even Radiohead lyrics—like, WE ARE RABBITS, HOARDING POTS OF GOLD, or ROMAN EMPIRE … WE DISSENT, or EPHEMERAL FROGS GRASP CLOUDS. You know, something straight out of refrigerator magnet poetry.
Someone asks you for a song recommendation. “Try ‘Creep,’” you say, proud of yourself. Watch in horror as the Radiohead aficionados snicker. Recover by muttering something about preferring their earlier underground stuff or an obscure King of Limbs B side. They are now laughing at your “ironic” first suggestion. Well played.
Remember, it’s never too late to dive deep into the complex emotional landscape of Radiohead. Your mid-thirties are the perfect time to pretend you’re in your angsty teens again. Happy brooding!