In Rainbows goes straight to Number One on the corporeal charts. Trent Reznor is only the latest musico forced to internalize the unglamorous possibility that Radiohead’s supposed revolution in the rock ‘n’ roll business model was more a manifestation of their incredible popularity and the fanatical devotion of their fans than it was an emanation of some new sea change in the valuation of recorded music.
But the big lesson remains palpable enough that successful acts no longer need the institutional support of corporations that want ownership of their creative output. Thus the question for newbies is whether the possibility of always having rights to their equivalent of ‘Creep’ is worth a few extra years in the wilderness — a place they’re likely to wind up regardless in the grand scheme of things, and a situation indie kids, for all their love of exposure, seem characteristically resigned to enduring, as the cosmic incarnation of whatever mixed-up half-nostalgic fundamental incompleteness of being now stands for pop spirituality these days.
I’ll have more to say about Radiohead in print at some point relatively soon, with what promise to be more finely honed sentences.