Radiohead, Ranked Worst to Best

Picture me in the second half of seventh grade, an isolated alien of a 13-year-old boy who had just moved between states and was still struggling to find his place. It turns out that there a lot of other isolated aliens who are either drowning in their own self-righteousness about how their taste of music is so superior to yours and disparaging Top 40 music like it’s the Antichrist or trying to do something, anything to find other isolated aliens just like them to give them some relief in the fact that they’re not alone in this strange, cruel world. Luckily for me, I sorta fit into both of those categories, and given the circumstances and the timing, I don’t think Radiohead could’ve met me at a better time.

My entry album was OK Computer. Up to that point, my music listening generally consisted of enjoying certain songs from an album but never actually going further. OK Computer was the first album I listened to all the way through, and over the years I’ve consumed Radiohead’s music in a way that I’ve never done with any other band. I was explicitly inspired to make this post as a quasi-response to a video uploaded by Anthony Fantano, whose opinion I agree with only most of the time, but it’s also something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while.

9. Pablo Honey

The best way I can describe this album: Watered-down Kool Aid in a market of superior-quality Kool Aids.

There’s really no surprise there (no pun intended). The best way I could describe this album is “Nirvana lite”, as this was an album put out in a time where the music world was still being ridden by shockwaves from Nevermind. Now, there can be some good out of being inspired by someone else’s sound to form your own; hell, many believes Coldplay’s first album Parachutes was just a more laidback version of The Bends designed to suck in any of the Radiohead fans storming away in frustration after Kid A dropped, and that’s one of my favorite albums of all time. But when the inspirations and impressions of other adversaries are so obvious, then whatever you’re making loses its verve and becomes another fish in the sea. This album was sorta like the band starting off on a broken foot, although it’s not without some standout tracks like the closing song “Blow Out”.

8. Amnesiac

The best way I can describe this album: A jazzy mishmash that tries desperately to act like it’s bigger than it really is.

Rolling Stone called this album “the greatest sequel since The Godfather: Part II“. Go fuck yourself, Rolling Stone.

My God, how overrated this album is. In fact, it’s not really an album to me; it’s just a compilation of Kid A outtakes, because that’s what it is. It even has a remix of “Morning Bell”, for fuck’s sake (although said remix is pretty good). Even in its release state, it’s a very mixed bag; some of the band’s best songs such as “Pyramid Song” are slapped together on the tracklist alongside pretty useless tracks like “Hunting Bears” as well as a lot of songs that are…okay. The jazz influences the album embraces are little more than a saving grace but admittedly bring some interesting flair into the listening experience, providing us with songs such as “Dollars and Cents” and “Life in a Glasshouse”, some of the standouts on the album.

My Opinion on… The Emoji Movie

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This movie does not need to exist. This movie should not exist.

This is a film that started as a fleeting idea in the hazy brain of some corporate executive that should’ve been forgotten and overridden by whichever new 13-year-old pop star making the rounds on YouTube he wants to invest in.

I have never seen a film try to cater and pander to a certain demographic this desperately in my entire life. It’s essentially trying to do what The Lego Movie did, except that movie was, y’know, good. It essentially did for Legos what Toy Story did for toys and what Wreck-It Ralph did for video games; it had heart, it had humor, it had a damn catchy song. This movie sounds like it got pitched after some middle-aged white man in a boardroom slammed back a few shots of tequila and then said, “You know what the kids would like?”

The Emoji Movie is an amalgamation of all of the worst things that could happen when companies try to make themselves “hip” and relevant to appeal to the little kiddies. (If you think this sounds outlandish, check out http://reddit.com/r/fellowkids. There are more examples of this than you think.) There’s a reason why the only two reactions to the news of this film are extreme criticism and blind optimism, and the teasers for this film that have gone up on YouTube have a number of dislikes that completely dwarfs the number of likes; they know that there are tons of ways to market, and this is not it.

The most hilarious thing about this film is that it was advertised by a character just as unenthusiastic about it as we are, and I don’t blame him one bit. To add insult to injury, the entire video is portrayed like a vertically-filmed iPhone video uploaded to YouTube with those nasty black bars, acting like a tongue-in-cheek middle finger to the audience. Imagine if the whole film was like that.

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, here’s the storyline of the film, in my own words: the film centers around an emoji called Gene who is unique because he can change his expression, but apparently all emojis live in a weird communist agenda where individuality is shunned and conformity is the status quo. Fearing the fact that he may disappoint his family or even be killed (well, deleted) for his distinctiveness, he seeks a code that will make him like everyone else by teaming up with his friends Hi-5 (voiced by James Corden; not surprised he got in on this) and an infamous code breaker emoji called Jailbreak. That..that doesn’t even make sense. There’s not even a jailbreak emoj…whatever.

First of all, Lord knows I couldn’t type that with a straight face. Second of all, this “unique person faces shunning/death and is forced to be normal” story structure sounds like something out of a World War II book. Not only that, but this plot has been used so often in films like these I know exactly where it’s going to go from here. Gene finds out that his individuality should be embraced and not hated, and eventually everyone becomes unique expression-changers, so unique becomes the new normal.

It’s predictable, it’s cringey, it’s tacky, it’s petty, and it’s a complete mess that shouldn’t be made. I will not be surprised if this film bombs hard; I will be one of the people dancing and celebrating among the flames. I will be taken aback if this film manages to pull a reverse Suicide Squad and actually start holding some ground between now and August 2017. It will bring great disappointment to me, however, if people go out to see this film with a “I need to see how bad this is” mindset and give this film money that it doesn’t deserve. If you don’t support a movie, don’t give it your money. Simple as that.

Hey Sony Pictures Animation, thanks for another addition to the endless list of reasons why 2016 sucks (yeah, I know this doesn’t come out until next year, but we heard about it this year, and that’s tragic enough).

My Opinion on…Cars 3

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I just need to get something off my chest real quick.

I haven’t really cared about Cars in a while. I haven’t cared since I found out just how much of a colossal screwup the second Cars movie was, gaining the “honor” of being Pixar’s first film to get a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, and getting a pretty mediocre tie-in video game in comparison to the awesome video game that the original movie got, which I distinctly remember playing on the PS2. When I first heard that Cars 3 was coming, I was fairly happy. It seemed like it was a long time coming, and perhaps the franchise could try and redeem themselves.

Then the teaser came out, and the Internet went crazy.

I haven’t seen people get this riled up over a Disney movie since all of the “cultural appropriation” hullabaloo that Moana got for some reason, and it’s very similar to that situation in the sense that I have absolutely no idea why everyone’s pissing their pants.

Well, to be fair, there is some explanation for the controversy; mainly, people aren’t happy with the new super-dark direction that the film seems to be going in judging by its teaser trailer, which gives us glimpses at the disquieting image of Lightning McQueen crashing violently during a race. Parents were taking to the Internet, expressing outrage with how the teaser was making their kids cry in the theaters, and that sparked a whole discussion of whether or not a darker tone is the right decision, especially for this franchise. You wanna know what I think?

I think everyone should just shut up.

Disney are professionals at tearing people’s hearts out, and they’ve been doing it for decades, from Bambi’s mom’s death to Mufasa’s death to the first ten minutes of Up. If this is what people consider to be the final straw in 2016, then we are really waist-deep in the quicksand pool that is sensitivity.

I personally like this new style. It shocked me the first time I saw it in the sense that I didn’t think Disney actually had the balls to make such a drastic tone-shift, even though Cars 2 was a bit darker than the first Cars. The animation is several leagues up in terms of quality, and it’s so realistic and gritty that, from what we see, there aren’t even any cartoony faces on the cars. I’m excited to see where this goes and what more information will be revealed about the film, and if Cars 3 seriously gets any changes to make people happy, I will be extremely disappointed in Disney for cracking under the pressure. It’ll be a betrayal of their original vision for the film, and what’s the point of making a film that doesn’t match the vision you had when you came up with it in the first place?

~S~