This article is over 6 years old


Radiohead: A Classical Shaped Band?

Radiohead just released a new album. Check out this classical music celebration of a band whose members might be a little classical themselves.

Unless you are a Luddite (doubtful, since you’re reading this), you are probably aware that the iconic British band Radiohead released a new album Sunday, May 8th. It’s their ninth album, their first in five years, and it’s called A Moon Shaped Pool. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the band’s ties to the classical music world. Those ties are significant: Classic FM even claims that the band’s new album is classical music.

Leading up to the album release, the band created buzz by deleting all information from their website and social media profiles. On May 3rd, they released the song “Burn the Witch,” accompanied by a stop motion animation video, and then on May 6th, released a song called “Daydreaming,” accompanied by a video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Inherent Vice).

“Yes, yes — we know all of that,” you may well be saying to yourself.

What you might not know is that Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is a composer of classical music (then again, you might also know this — you seem pretty well-informed). In addition to composing scores for P.T. Anderson films like the There Will Be Blood (for which Greenwood received a Grammy nomination), he’s composed orchestral works like Water, and Popcorn Superhet Receiver. Greenwood’s influence is likely one of the reasons that strings play such an important role in Pool tracks like “Burn the Witch.”

You can tell that the classical music world reciprocates the experimental dystopian love by the way composers keep arranging Radiohead’s work and by the way classical performers keep performing it. Check out the use of col legno strings in “Burn the Witch,” and then check out some classical interpretations of the band’s music. We hope this finds you fitter, happier, more productive.

Composer Steve Reich, inspired by two Radiohead songs, wrote the piece Radio Rewrite. Check out the first movement here.

Classical pianist Christopher O’Riley released a full album of reinterpretations of Radiohead’s music. Now that’s love. Hear the full album here.

The Vitamin String Quartet restyled Radiohead’s album Okay Computer, track by track, for string quartet.

And, of course, local wind quintet, WindSync, performed their arrangement of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” on Houston Public Media’s Skyline Sessions.

Thanks to Joshua Zinn for research assistance and to St.John Flynn for creative oversight on this article.