Music Criticism

Why is Fox News waging a holy war against Radiohead?

October 25, 2017
Thom Yorke of Radiohead
Shirlaine Forrest

In case you haven’t exactly had your finger on the pulse, the world isn’t doing so great. California is on fire, Vegas is in mourning, and Puerto Rico is without power. People who voted for the president are no longer speaking to the people didn’t and in distant lands the targeting chips on nuclear warheads are being dialed in while world leaders hurl schoolyard insults from the UN pulpit. Suffice to say, it’s a scary time to get out of bed in the morning, but thankfully Fox News have found the root of our global ache:

F—ing Radiohead.

It all began a week ago, when Kat Timpf (not a typo), joined The Greg Gutfeld Show to discuss 2018’s eligible Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame nominees, using a self-deprecating tirade on her taste in men—“strange, malnourished, and sad,” she says—as a springboard to characterize the seminal Oxford art rockers as [wait for it] “elaborate moaning and whining over ringtone sounds.” [Mic drop].

The internet—which we all know began as a Radiohead fanboy chatroom—predictably exploded; the president—as if acting out some tragic, scrapped Seinfeld script—started arguing with a woman in a cowboy hat about whether his condolences to a dead soldier’s family counted; and the world—distracted by their check engine lights—moved on.

On Tuesday, however, Timpf’s skeptical probing bloomed into a beautiful, full-fledged conspiracy theory, with Gutfeld himself taking to national TV to revisit the most pressing issue facing human civilization today: “You know, Radiohead is a fine band but they stole everything from Coldplay…Like Radiohead is the poor man’s Coldplay.” Witness the watershed revelation at 36:10:

Hopefully obvious sarcasm aside, the real question here is a simple one: Why Radiohead? A British band with a grandfathered-in fanbase whose last relevant album was released over a decade ago (don’t @ me, King of Limbs weirdos), Radiohead have had little to no bearing on American politics in their revered 32-year run as the kings of elaborate moaning and whining over ringtone sounds. So why is this the hill Fox News want to die on right now? Well, there are three answers to that question:

1.) Clicks/mentions/ratings. Needless to say, The Greg Gutfeld Show had a far better engagement week than it would have if it hadn’t called Muse the thinking man’s Radiohead or whatever the hell they said. Here in the Pro-Internet League, we call that trolling.

2.) Remember when Thom Yorke called Donald Trump, and I quote, a “F—king Clown” for leaving the Paris Agreement this summer? Well, so does Fox News.

3.) They're simply furthering our current nationwide rejection of intellectualism, or, at least, the elitism commonly associated with (or misidentified as) intellectualism.

Of the three, the latter is perhaps the most interesting. In the mainstream music zeitgeist, no band has been more widely and readily associated with soft-handed philosophy majors parading around New England liberal arts institutions minding their pronouns than Radiohead. Just listen to Timpf’s sad tales about her sex life. She’ll tell you. Many 18-to-35-year-old Kafka-loving men (and women) adore Radiohead in the same way their fathers did Pink Floyd. Many more simply pretend to, because, well, the artifice of “intellectualism” is alluring for 18-to-35-year-old Kafka-loving men desperately trying to sleep with 18-to-35-year-old Radiohead-adoring women.

This—not necessarily Radiohead, but the cult of Radiohead—is what Fox News is railing against. And to certain extent they have a point. Radiohead can be grating. Their fans can be even worse. Thom Yorke’s falsetto isn’t even all that good (BRING ON THE DEATH THREATS!). But stay in your lane. You don’t hear us over here saying Lynyrd Skynyrd is reductive burping and farting over the sound of your pickup turning over. We aren’t sitting here calling Ted Nugent the Snowflake’s George Thorogood. We would NEVER do such a thing. So let’s back off Radiohead, shall we, and focus on some the more important issues facing America, like, I don’t know, why Blade Runner 2049 bombed or something.


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