Everything in Its Right Place

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"Everything in Its Right Place"
Song by Radiohead
from the album Kid A
RecordedJanuary 1999 – April 2000
Genre
Length4:11
Label
Songwriter(s)Radiohead
Producer(s)
Kid A track listing
  1. "Everything in Its Right Place"
  2. "Kid A"
  3. "The National Anthem"
  4. "How to Disappear Completely"
  5. "Treefingers"
  6. "Optimistic"
  7. "In Limbo"
  8. "Idioteque"
  9. "Morning Bell"
  10. "Motion Picture Soundtrack"
Audio sample
"Everything in Its Right Place"

"Everything in Its Right Place" is a song by the English rock band Radiohead, the opening track on their fourth album Kid A (2000). It features synthesiser, manipulated vocals, and lyrics inspired by the stress singer Thom Yorke experienced while promoting Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer.

Yorke wrote "Everything in Its Right Place" on piano. Radiohead worked on it in a conventional band arrangement before transferring it to synthesiser, and described it as a breakthrough in the album recording. Though it alienated some listeners expecting more of Radiohead's earlier rock music, "Everything in Its Right Place" was named one of the best songs of the decade by several publications.

Writing[edit]

Following the success of their 1997 album OK Computer, the members of Radiohead suffered psychological burnout, and songwriter Thom Yorke had a mental breakdown.[1] He suffered from writer's block and became disillusioned with rock music.[2] Instead, he listened almost exclusively to the electronic music of Warp artists such as Aphex Twin and Autechre, saying: "It was refreshing because the music was all structures and had no human voices in it. But I felt just as emotional about it as I'd ever felt about guitar music."[1]

Yorke bought a house in Cornwall and spent his time walking the cliffs and drawing, restricting his musical activity to playing his new grand piano.[3] "Everything in Its Right Place" was the first song he wrote,[3] followed by "Pyramid Song".[4] Yorke described himself as a "shit piano player", and took inspiration from a quote by Tom Waits saying that ignorance of instruments gives him inspiration. Yorke said: "That's one of the reasons I wanted to get into computers and synths, because I didn't understand how the fuck they worked. I had no idea what ADSR meant."[5]

Yorke denied that the lyrics were "gibberish", and said they expressed the depression he experienced after performing in NEC Arena in Birmingham: "I came off at the end of that show sat in the dressing room and couldn't speak ... People were saying, 'You all right?' I knew people were speaking to me. But I couldn't hear them ... I'd just so had enough. And I was bored with saying I'd had enough. I was beyond that."[6]

Recording[edit]

Producer Nigel Godrich was unimpressed with Yorke's piano rendition of "Everything in its Right Place".[7] Radiohead worked on the song in a conventional band arrangement in Copenhagen and Paris, but without results.[8] One night, while they were working in Gloucestershire,[8] Yorke and Godrich transferred the song to a Prophet-5 synthesiser.[9] Godrich processed Yorke's vocals in Pro Tools using a scrubbing tool.[7]

Greenwood said the song was a turning point in the making of Kid A: "We knew it had to be the first song, and everything just followed after it."[7] He said it was the first time Radiohead had been happy to leave a song "sparse", instead of "layering on top of what's a very good song or a very good sound, and hiding it, camouflaging it in case it's not good enough".[7] Guitarist Ed O'Brien and drummer Philip Selway said the track forced them to accept that not every song needed every band member to play on it. O'Brien recalled: "It forced the issue, immediately! And to be genuinely sort of delighted that you'd been working for six months on this record and something great has come out of it, and you haven't contributed to it, is a really liberating feeling."[8]

Composition[edit]

A Prophet-5 synthesiser, the same model used to record "Everything In Its Right Place"[10]

"Everything in its Right Place" is an electronic song featuring synthesiser and digitally manipulated vocals. ABC.net described it as "dissonant" and "ominous".[11] According to the NME, it features "Warp-style electronica, minimalism and all manner of glitchy creepiness", with a "weirdly hymnal dreamscape of ambient keys".[12] O'Brien observed that it lacked the crescendos typical of Radiohead's previous songs.[8] The minimalist composer Steve Reich, who reinterpreted the song for his 2014 album Radio Rewrite, said:[13]

It's three-chord rock but it's not, it's very unusual ... It was originally in F minor, and it never comes down to the one chord, the F minor chord is never stated. So there's never a tonic, there's never a cadence in the normal sense, whereas in most pop tunes it will appear, even if it's only in passing. The other thing that really struck me about it is the word "everything", sung to one-five-one: the tonic, the dominant and the tonic. The tonic and the dominant are the end of every Beethoven symphony, the end of everything in classical music, that's the way it goes. In the tune, those notes actually sound kind of distant because of the harmonies, they don't sound like the tonic and dominant. And the word: "everything". I'm sure Thom did it intuitively, I'm sure he wasn't thinking about it ... but it's perfect, it is everything.

Reception[edit]

On the album Kid A, Radiohead replaced their guitar rock style with electronic and krautrock influences.[12] The NME described "Everything in Its Right Place", its first track, as "the moment where Radiohead finally left behind the limitations of being an alt rock band and embraced a whole wide world of weirdness".[12] Pitchfork described the shock some fans experienced hearing it for the first time:[14]

What was this shit? If everything was really in its right place, where were the fucking guitars ... And whose crackling old keyboards were those? And why did rock’s razor-sharp voice suddenly sound as if it’d been broken into bits by a centrifuge? ... "Everything in Its Right Place"– a sharp-tongued kiss-off that stood on the shoulders of different giants, like krautrock, Stockhausen, and Squarepusher, poured new possibilities into several previously hermetic circles. And it was too hypnotic to dare apologise.

"Everything in Its Right Place" was named one of the best tracks of the 2000s by Rolling Stone,[15] the NME,[12] and Pitchfork.[14] However, Guardian critic Alex Petridis called it a "messy and inconsequential doodle",[16] and Melody Maker critic Mark Beaumont dismissed it as a "haphazard and pointless synth'n'laptop experiment".[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Zoric, Lauren (22 September 2000). "I think I'm meant to be dead ..." The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  2. ^ Smith, Andrew (1 October 2000). "Sound and fury". The Observer. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  3. ^ a b Naokes, Tim (12 February 2012). "Splitting atoms with Thom Yorke". Dazed. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Happy now?". Mojo. June 2001. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012.
  5. ^ Fricke, David (14 December 2000). "People of the Year: Thom Yorke of Radiohead". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  6. ^ Fricke, David (2 August 2001). "Radiohead: Making Music That Matters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Greenwood, Jonny; Greenwood, Colin (20 October 2000). "An Interview With Jonny And Colin Greenwood". Morning Becomes Eclectic (Interview). Interviewed by Nic Harcourt. Los Angeles: KCRW.
  8. ^ a b c d "Interview with Ed O'Brien and Philip Selway" (Interview). Interviewed by Paul Anderson. XFM. 25 September 2000.
  9. ^ "The 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music". The Vinyl Factory. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  10. ^ "The 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music". The Vinyl Factory. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  11. ^ Zwi, Adam (13 October 2014). "Steve Reich meets Radiohead with 'Radio Rewrite'". Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d "100 Best Songs Of The 00s". NME. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  13. ^ Petridis, Alexis (1 March 2013). "Steve Reich on Schoenberg, Coltrane and Radiohead". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  14. ^ a b "The 200 Best Songs of the 2000s". Pitchfork. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  15. ^ "100 Best Songs of the 2000s". Rolling Stone. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  16. ^ Petridis, Alexis (1 July 2001). "CD of the week: Radiohead: Amnesiac". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  17. ^ Beaumont, Mark (11 October 2010). "Radiohead's Kid A: still not much cop". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.

External links[edit]