|Studio album by|
|Released||2 October 2000|
|Recorded||January 1999 – April 2000|
|Radiohead studio album chronology|
Kid A is the fourth album by the English rock band Radiohead, released on 2 October 2000 by Parlophone. They recorded Kid A with OK Computer producer Nigel Godrich in Paris, Copenhagen, Gloucestershire and their hometown Oxford, England.
After the stress of promoting Radiohead's acclaimed 1997 album OK Computer, songwriter Thom Yorke wanted to diverge from rock music. Drawing influence from electronic music, ambient music, krautrock, jazz, and 20th-century classical music, Radiohead used instruments such as modular synthesisers, ondes Martenot, brass and strings. They processed guitar sounds, incorporated samples and loops, and manipulated their recordings with software such as Pro Tools and Cubase. Yorke wrote many lyrics by cutting up words and phrases and assembling them at random. Radiohead considered releasing the material as a double album, but decided it was too dense; a second album of material from the sessions, Amnesiac, was released the following year.
Kid A was widely anticipated. In a departure from industry practice, Radiohead released no singles or music videos and conducted few interviews and photoshoots. Instead, they became one of the first major acts to use the internet as a promotional tool; Kid A was made available to stream and was promoted with short animated films featuring music and artwork. Bootlegs of early performances were shared on filesharing services, and the album was leaked before release. In 2000, Radiohead toured Europe in a custom-built tent without corporate logos.
Kid A debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart, and became Radiohead's first number-one album in the United States, where it sold over 207,000 copies in its first week. It has been certified platinum in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the US and the UK. Like OK Computer, it won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its departure from Radiohead's earlier sound divided fans and critics, and some dismissed it as pretentious, deliberately obscure, or derivative. However, it later attracted wide acclaim; at the turn of the decade, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the Times ranked Kid A the greatest album of the 2000s. In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked it number 20 on its updated list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Following the critical and commercial success of their 1997 album OK Computer, the members of Radiohead suffered burnout. Yorke became ill, describing himself as "a complete fucking mess ... completely unhinged". Bassist Colin Greenwood said: "We felt we had to change everything. There were other guitar bands out there trying to do similar things. We had to move on." Guitarist Ed O'Brien had hoped Radiohead's fourth album would comprise "snappy", melodic guitar songs, but Yorke stated: "There was no chance of the album sounding like that. I'd completely had it with melody. I just wanted rhythm. All melodies to me were pure embarrassment."
Troubled by new acts he felt were imitating Radiohead, Yorke believed his music had become part of a constant background noise he described as "fridge buzz", and he became hostile to the music media. He told The Guardian: "I always used to use music as a way of moving on and dealing with things, and I sort of felt like that the thing that helped me deal with things had been sold to the highest bidder and I was simply doing its bidding. And I couldn't handle that." He suffered from writer's block, and could not finish writing songs on guitar.
Yorke became disillusioned with the "mythology" of rock music, feeling the genre had "run its course". He had been a DJ and part of a techno band at Exeter University, and following OK Computer began to listen almost exclusively to the electronic music of Warp artists such as Aphex Twin and Autechre: "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." He liked the idea of his voice being used as an instrument rather than having a leading role, and wanted to focus on sounds and textures instead of traditional songwriting.
Yorke bought a house in Cornwall and spent his time walking the cliffs and drawing, restricting his musical activity to playing the grand piano he had recently bought. "Everything in Its Right Place" was the first song he wrote. He described himself as a "shit piano player", with little knowledge of electronic instruments: "I remember this Tom Waits quote from years ago, that what keeps him going as a songwriter is his complete ignorance of the instruments he's using. So everything's a novelty. 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."
Radiohead began work on Kid A in Paris in January 1999 with OK Computer producer Nigel Godrich and no deadline. Yorke, who had the greatest control, was still facing writer's block. His new songs were incomplete, and some consisted of little more than sounds or rhythms; few had clear verses or choruses. The band struggled with Yorke's new direction. Brothers Jonny and Colin Greenwood expressed a fear of "random digital experimentation" or "awful art-rock nonsense just for its own sake". According to Yorke, Godrich "didn't understand why, if we had such a strength in one thing, we would want to do something else. But at the same time he trusted me to have an idea of what I wanted."
Accepting that not every band member would play on every song caused conflict. O'Brien said: "It's scary – everyone feels insecure. I'm a guitarist and suddenly it's like, well, there are no guitars on this track, or no drums." O'Brien began using sustain units, which allow guitar notes to be sustained infinitely, combined with looping and delay effects to create synthesiser-like sounds.
The band found it difficult to use electronic instruments and techniques collaboratively; according to Yorke, "We had to develop ways of going off into corners and build things on whatever sequencer, synthesiser or piece of machinery we would bring to the equation and then integrate that into the way we would normally work." They experimented with electronic instruments including modular synthesisers and the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument similar to a theremin, and used software such as Pro Tools and Cubase to edit and manipulate their recordings.
In March, Radiohead moved to Medley Studios in Copenhagen for two weeks. The sessions produced about 50 reels of tape each containing 15 minutes of music, with nothing finished. In April, Radiohead resumed recording in a Gloucestershire mansion. The lack of deadline and the number of incomplete ideas made it hard to focus, and they agreed to disband if they could not agree on an album worth releasing.
In July, O'Brien began keeping an online diary of Radiohead's progress, and Radiohead moved to their new studio in their hometown Oxford. In November, Radiohead broadcast a webcast from their studio, featuring a performance of new music and a DJ set. By the end of 1999, six songs were complete, including the title track. In January 2000, at Godrich's suggestion, Radiohead split into two groups: one would generate a sound or sequence and the other would develop it without acoustic instruments such as guitars or drums. Though the experiment produced no finished songs, it helped convince the band of the new direction.
On 19 April, Yorke wrote on Radiohead's website that they had finished recording. Having completed over 20 songs, they considered a double album, but felt the material was too dense. Instead, Radiohead saved half the songs for their next album, Amnesiac, released the following year. Yorke said Radiohead split the work into two albums because "they cancel each other out as overall finished things. They come from two different places." Agreeing on the track list created arguments, and O'Brien said the band had come close to breaking up: "[It] was really fraught. That felt like it could go either way, it could break ... But we came in the next day and it was resolved." The album was mastered by Chris Blair in Abbey Road Studios, London.
Jonny Greenwood described the first track, "Everything in its Right Place", as a turning point for the album recording: "We knew it had to be the first song, and everything just followed after it." It was recorded on a Prophet 5 synthesiser, with vocals processed using a scrubbing tool in Pro Tools.
Yorke wrote an early version of "The National Anthem" when the band was still in school. For Kid A, Greenwood added ondes Martenot and sounds sampled from radio stations, and Yorke's vocals were processed with a ring modulator. In November 1999, Radiohead recorded a brass section inspired by the "organised chaos" of Town Hall Concert by the jazz musician Charles Mingus, instructing the musicians to sound like a "traffic jam".
The strings on "How To Disappear Completely" were performed by the Orchestra of St John's and recorded in Dorchester Abbey, a 12th-century church about five miles from Radiohead's Oxfordshire studio. Radiohead chose the orchestra as they had performed pieces by Penderecki and Messiaen. Jonny Greenwood, the only Radiohead member trained in music theory, composed the string arrangement by multitracking his ondes Martenot. According to Godrich, when the musicians saw Greenwood's score "they all just sort of burst into giggles, because they couldn’t do what he’d written, because it was impossible – or impossible for them, anyway". The orchestra leader John Lubbock encouraged the musicians to experiment and work with Greenwood's ideas. Concerts director Alison Atkinson said the session was "more experimental" than the orchestra's usual bookings.
"Idioteque" was built from a drum machine pattern Jonny Greenwood created with a modular synthesiser and a sample from "Mild und Leise", a 1967 computer music piece by Paul Lansky. He gave the 50-minute recording to Yorke, who took a short section of it and used it to write the song.
Yorke had recorded a version of "Motion Picture Soundtrack" on piano during the OK Computer sessions. For Kid A, he recorded it on a harmonium pedal organ, influenced by songwriter Tom Waits; Greenwood added samples of harps, attempting to recreate the atmosphere of 1950s Disney films. Radiohead also worked on several songs that were not completed until recording sessions for future albums, including "Nude", "Burn the Witch" and "True Love Waits".
Style and influences
Kid A incorporates influences from electronic artists on Warp Records such as 1990s IDM artists Autechre and Aphex Twin; 1970s Krautrock bands such as Can; the jazz of Charles Mingus, Alice Coltrane and Miles Davis; and abstract hip hop from the Mo'Wax label, including Blackalicious and DJ Krush. Yorke cited Remain in Light (1980) by Talking Heads as a "massive reference point". Björk was another major influence, particularly her 1997 album Homogenic, as was the Beta Band. Radiohead attended an Underworld concert which helped renew their enthusiasm in a difficult moment.
The string orchestration for "How to Disappear Completely" was influenced by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Jonny Greenwood's use of the ondes Martenot on this and several other Kid A songs was inspired by Olivier Messiaen, who popularised the instrument and was one of Greenwood's teenage heroes. "Idioteque" samples two computer music pieces, Paul Lansky's "Mild Und Leise" and Arthur Kreiger's "Short Piece". Both samples were taken from Electronic Music Winners, a 1976 experimental music LP which Jonny Greenwood stumbled upon while the band was working on Kid A. Yorke also referred to electronic dance music when talking about "Idioteque", and said that the song was "an attempt to capture that exploding beat sound where you're at the club and the PA's so loud, you know it's doing damage".
"Motion Picture Soundtrack" was written before Radiohead's debut single "Creep". Yorke recorded it on a pedal organ; the other band members added sampled harp and double bass, attempting to emulate the soundtracks of 1950s Disney films. Jonny Greenwood described his interest in mixing old and new music technology, and during the recording sessions Yorke read Ian MacDonald's Revolution in the Head, which chronicles the Beatles' recordings with George Martin during the 1960s. The band also sought to combine electronic manipulations with jam sessions in the studio, stating their model was the German group Can.
Kid A has been described as a work of electronica, experimental rock, post-rock, alternative rock, post-prog, ambient, electronic rock, and art rock. Though guitar is less prominent than on previous Radiohead albums, guitars were still used on most tracks. "Treefingers", an instrumental ambient track, was created by digitally processing O'Brien's guitar loops. Many of Yorke's vocals are heavily modified by digital effects; for example, his vocals on the title track were simply spoken, then vocoded with the ondes Martenot to create the melody.
Yorke wrote many of Kid A's lyrics by cutting up words and phrases and assembling them at random, combining everyday cliches and banal observations ("Where'd you park the car?") with violent imagery ("Cut the kids in half"). He cited David Byrne's approach to lyrics on the 1980 Talking Heads album Remain in Light as an influence: "When they made that record, they had no real songs, just wrote it all as they went along. Byrne turned up with pages and pages, and just picked stuff up and threw bits in all the time. And that's exactly how I approached Kid A." Radiohead used Yorke's lyrics "like pieces in a collage ... [creating] an artwork out of a lot of different little things". The lyrics are not included in the liner notes, as Radiohead felt they could not be considered independently of the music, and Yorke said he did not want listeners to focus on them.
Yorke wrote "Everything in Its Right Place" about the depression he experienced on the OK Computer tour, feeling he could not speak. The refrain of "How to Disappear Completely" was inspired by R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, who advised Yorke to relieve tour stress by repeating to himself: "I'm not here, this isn't happening". The refrain of "Optimistic" ("try the best you can / the best you can is good enough") was an assurance by Yorke's partner, Rachel Owen, when Yorke was frustrated with the band's progress. The title Kid A came from a filename on one of Yorke's sequencers. Yorke said he liked its "non-meaning", saying: "If you call [an album] something specific, it drives the record in a certain way."
The Kid A artwork and packaging was created by Yorke with Stanley Donwood, who has worked with Radiohead since their 1994 EP My Iron Lung. Donwood painted on large canvases with knives and sticks, then photographed the paintings and manipulated them with Photoshop. While working on the artwork, Yorke and Donwood became "obsessed" with the Worldwatch Institute website, which was full of "scary statistics about ice caps melting, and weather patterns changing"; this inspired them to use an image of a mountain range as the cover art. Donwood said he saw the mountains as "some sort of cataclysmic power".
Donwood was also inspired by a photograph taken during the Kosovo War depicting a square metre of snow full of the "detritus of war", such as military equipment and cigarette stains. Donwood said: "I was upset by it in a way war had never upset me before. It felt like it was happening in my street." The red swimming pool on the album spine and disc was inspired by the 1988 graphic novel Brought to Light by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz, in which the number of people killed by state terrorism is measured in 50-gallon swimming pools filled with blood. Donwood said this image "haunted" him during the recording of the album, calling it "a symbol of looming danger and shattered expectations".
Anticipation for Kid A was high; Spin described it as the most anticipated rock record since Nirvana's In Utero. Radiohead minimised their involvement in its promotion, conducting few interviews or photoshoots. They released no singles, though "Optimistic" and promotional copies of other tracks received radio play. MTV2, KROQ, and WXRK played the album in its entirety. Yorke said the decision not to release singles was not "for reasons of artistic credibility" but to avoid the stress of publicity: "Coming back into the lion's den was not easy, especially for me personally. It meant bringing back ghosts that made me shut down in the first place."
No advance copies of the album were circulated, but it was played under controlled conditions for critics and fans. Radiohead were careful to present the album as a cohesive work rather than a series of separate tracks; rather than give EMI executives copies to consider individually, they had them listen to the album in its entirety on a bus from Hollywood to Malibu. Rob Gordon, vice president of marketing at Capitol Records, the American subsidiary of Radiohead's label EMI, praised the album but said promoting it would be a "business challenge".
Rather than agree to a standard magazine photoshoot for Q, Radiohead supplied digitally altered portraits, with smoothed skin, recoloured irises, and Yorke's drooping eyelid removed. Q editor Andrew Harrison described the images as "aggressively weird to the point of taking the piss ... all five of Radiohead had been given the aspect of gawking aliens". Yorke told Q: "I’d like to see them try to put these pictures on a poster." Q projected them onto the Houses of Parliament , placed them on posters and billboards in the London Underground and on the Old Street Roundabout, and had them printed on key rings, mugs and mouse mats, to "turn Radiohead back into a product".
– Capitol executive Robin Sloan Bechtel, 2015
At the time, the use of the internet for music promotion was not widespread, and record labels were still reliant on MTV and radio. Capitol launched an innovative marketing campaign, broadcasting "blips", short films set to Kid A's music, on music channels and distributing them online. The "iBlip", a Java applet, could be embedded in fan sites and allowed users to preorder and stream the album; it was used by over 1000 sites and the album was streamed more than 400,000 times. The iBlip also included artwork, photos and links to order the album on the online retailer Amazon. Capitol also streamed the album through Amazon, MTV.com and heavy.com, and ran a campaign with the peer-to-peer filesharing service Aimster, allowing users to swap iBlips and Radiohead-branded Aimster skins.
Three weeks before release, Kid A was leaked online and shared on the peer-to-peer service Napster. Asked whether he believed Napster had damaged sales, Capitol president Ray Lott likened the situation to unfounded concern about home taping in the 1980s and said: "I'm trying to sell as many Radiohead albums as possible. If I worried about what Napster would do, I wouldn't sell as many albums." Yorke said Napster "encourages enthusiasm for music in a way that the music industry has long forgotten to do".
In mid-2000, months before the album release, Radiohead toured the Mediterranean, performing Kid A and Amnesiac songs for the first time. By the time the album title was announced, fans were sharing concert bootlegs online. Colin Greenwood said: "We played in Barcelona and the next day the entire performance was up on Napster. Three weeks later when we got to play in Israel the audience knew the words to all the new songs and it was wonderful." Later that year, Radiohead toured Europe in a custom-built tent without corporate logos, playing mostly new songs. The tour included a homecoming show in South Park, Oxford, with supporting performances by Humphrey Lyttelton (who performed on Amnesiac) and Sigur Rós. According to journalist Alex Ross, the show may have been the largest public gathering in Oxford history.
Radiohead also performed three concerts in North American theatres, their first in nearly three years. The small venues sold out rapidly, attracting celebrities, and fans who camped overnight. In October, Radiohead performed on the American comedy show Saturday Night Live; the performance shocked some viewers expecting rock songs, with Jonny Greenwood playing electronic instruments, the house brass band improvising over "The National Anthem", and Yorke dancing erratically to "Idioteque". In November 2001, Radiohead released I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, comprising performances from the Kid A and Amnesiac tours.
Kid A reached number one on Amazon's sales chart, with more than 10,000 pre-orders. It debuted at number one in the UK, where it sold 55,000 copies in its first day of release – the biggest first-day sales of the year and more than every other album in the top ten combined. Kid A also debuted at number one in the US, selling over 207,000 copies in its first week. It was Radiohead's first US top 20 album, and the first US number one in three years for any British act. It also debuted at number one in Canada, where it sold more than 44,000 copies in its first week, and in France, Ireland and New Zealand. European sales slowed on 2 October 2000, the day of release, when 150,000 faulty CDs were recalled by EMI. By June 2001, Kid A had sold 310,000 copies in the UK, less than a third of OK Computer sales. It has been certified platinum in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the US and the UK.
|The Village Voice||A−|
Kid A was widely anticipated. According to Andrew Harrison, then editor of Q, music journalists expected Kid A to provide more of the "rousing, cathartic, lots-of-guitar, Saturday-night-at-Glastonbury big future rock moments" of OK Computer. Months before its release, Melody Maker wrote: "If there's one band that promises to return rock to us, it's Radiohead." After it had been played for critics, the Guardian wrote of the "muted electronic hums, pulses and tones", predicting that most listeners would be confused.
Many critics bemoaned the lack of guitar, obscured vocals, and unconventional song structures, and some called the album "a commercial suicide note". Mojo wrote that "upon first listen, Kid A is just awful ... Too often it sounds like the fragments that they began the writing process with – a loop, a riff, a mumbled line of text, have been set in concrete and had other, lesser ideas piled on top." In the New Yorker, novelist Nick Hornby wrote: "The album is morbid proof that this sort of self-indulgence results in a weird kind of anonymity rather than something distinctive and original." Melody Maker critic Mark Beaumont called the album "tubby, ostentatious, self-congratulatory, look-ma-I-can-suck-my-own-cock whiny old rubbish ... about 60 songs were started that no one had a bloody clue how to finish".
Guardian critic Adam Sweeting wrote that "even listeners raised on krautrock or Ornette Coleman will find Kid A a mystifying experience", and that it pandered to "the worst cliches" about Radiohead's "relentless miserabilism". Alexis Petridis, also of the Guardian, described it as "self-consciously awkward and bloody-minded, the noise made by a band trying so hard to make a 'difficult' album that they felt it beneath them to write any songs". The Irish Times panned Kid A as a "confused, aimless mess ... The only thing challenging about Kid A is the very real challenge to your attention span."
Some critics felt the electronic elements were unoriginal. In the New York Times, Howard Hampton dismissed Radiohead as a "rock composite" and wrote that Kid A "recycles Pink Floyd's dark-side-of-the-moon solipsism to Me-Decade perfection". Beaumont said Radiohead were "simply ploughing furrows dug by DJ Shadow and Brian Eno before them", and Select wrote: "What do they want for sounding like the Aphex Twin circa 1993, a medal?" Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone later wrote that the "mastery of Warp-style electronic effects" had appeared "clumsy and dated". In an NME editorial, James Oldham wrote that the electronic influences were "mired in compromise", with Radiohead still operating as a rock band, and concluded: "Time will judge it. But right now, Kid A has the ring of a lengthy, over-analysed mistake." Warp co-founder Rob Mitchell felt Kid A represented "an honest interpretation of [Warp] influences" and was not gratuitously electronic. He predicted it might one day be seen in the same way as the 1977 David Bowie albums Heroes and Low, which alienated some Bowie fans but were later acclaimed.
AllMusic gave Kid A a favourable review, but wrote that it "never is as visionary or stunning as OK Computer, nor does it really repay the intensive time it demands in order for it to sink in". The NME review was also positive, but described some songs as "meandering" and "anticlimactic", and concluded: "For all its feats of brinkmanship, the patently magnificent construct called Kid A betrays a band playing one-handed just to prove they can, scared to commit itself emotionally." In Rolling Stone, David Fricke called Kid A "a work of deliberately inky, often irritating obsession ... But this is pop, a music of ornery, glistening guile and honest ache, and it will feel good under your skin once you let it get there."
Spin said Kid A was "not the act of career suicide or feat of self-indulgence it will be castigated as", and predicted that fans would recognise it as Radiohead's "best and bravest" album. Billboard described it as "an ocean of unparalleled musical depth" and "the first truly groundbreaking album of the 21st century". Robert Christgau wrote that Kid A is "an imaginative, imitative variation on a pop staple: sadness made pretty". The Village Voice called it "oblique oblique oblique ... Also incredibly beautiful." Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork gave Kid A a perfect score, calling it "cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike". He concluded that Radiohead "must be the greatest band alive, if not the best since you know who". The piece was one of the first Kid A reviews posted online; shared widely by Radiohead fans, it helped popularise Pitchfork and became notorious for its "obtuse" writing.
At Metacritic, which aggregates ratings from critics, Kid A has a score of 80 based on 24 reviews, indicating "generally favourable reviews". It was named one of the best albums of 2000 by publications including the Los Angeles Times, Spin, Melody Maker, Mojo, the NME, Pitchfork, Q, the Times, Uncut, and the Wire. At the 2001 Grammy Awards, Kid A was nominated for Album of the Year and won for Best Alternative Album.
|The A.V. Club||A|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In the years following its release, Kid A attracted acclaim. In 2005, Pitchfork wrote that Kid A had "challenged and confounded" Radiohead's audience, and that it had "transformed into an intellectual symbol of sorts ... Owning it became 'getting it'; getting it became 'anointing it'." In 2015, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone likened Radiohead's change in style to Bob Dylan's controversial move to rock music, writing: "There’s no controversy over Kid A any more ... Nobody admits now they hated Kid A at the time ... Nobody wants to be the clod who didn't get it." He described Kid A as the "defining moment in the Radiohead legend". In a retrospective article for the album's 20th century, the Quietus suggested that the negative reviews had been motivated by rockism: "the desire to venerate rock music as highest in the pecking order, with 'lesser' genres such as electronic and dance being added to the metaphorical Disco Sucks bonfire".
In a 2011 Guardian article about his critical Melody Maker review, Beaumont wrote that though his opinion had not changed, "Kid A's status as a cultural cornerstone has proved me, if not wrong, then very much in the minority ... People whose opinions I trust claim it to be their favourite album ever." In 2014, Brice Ezell of PopMatters wrote that Kid A is "more fun to think and write about than it is to actually listen to" and a "far less compelling representation of the band's talents than The Bends and OK Computer". In 2016, Dorian Lysnkey wrote in the Guardian: "At times, Kid A is dull enough to make you fervently wish that they'd merged the highlights with the best bits of the similarly spotty Amnesiac ... Yorke had given up on coherent lyrics so one can only guess at what he was worrying about."
Radiohead denied that they had set out to create "difficult" music. Jonny Greenwood argued that the tracks were short and melodic, and suggested that "people basically want their hands held through 12 'Mull Of Kintyre's". Yorke said: "We're actually trying to communicate but, somewhere along the line, we just seemed to piss off a lot of people ... What we're doing isn't that radical." He recalled that the band had been "white as a sheet" before early performances on the Kid A tour, thinking they had been "absolutely trashed". At the same time, the reaction motivated them: "There was a sense of a fight to convince people, which was actually really exciting." He regretted having released no singles, feeling it meant much of the early judgement of the album came from critics.
Grantland credited Kid A for pioneering the use of internet to stream and promote music, writing: "For many music fans of a certain age and persuasion, Kid A was the first album experienced primarily via the internet – it's where you went to hear it, read the reviews, and argue about whether it was a masterpiece ... Listen early, form an opinion quickly, state it publicly, and move on to the next big record by the official release date. In that way, Kid A invented modern music culture as we know it." In his 2005 book Killing Yourself to Live, critic Chuck Klosterman interpreted Kid A as a prediction of the September 11 attacks. In 2019, David Byrne of Talking Heads, one of Radiohead's formative influences, said: "What was really weird and very encouraging was that [Kid A] was popular. It was a hit! It proved to me that the artistic risk paid off and music fans sometimes are not stupid."
In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Kid A number 20 on its updated list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, describing it as "a new, uniquely fearless kind of rock record for a new, increasingly fearful century ... [it] remains one of the more stunning sonic makeovers in music history." In previous versions of the list, Kid A ranked at number 67 (2012) and number 428 (2003). In 2011, Rolling Stone named "Everything in its Right Place" the 24th best song of the 2000s, describing it as "oddness at its most hummable".
In 2005, Stylus and Pitchfork named Kid A the best album of the previous five years, with Pitchfork calling it "the perfect record for its time: ominous, surreal, and impossibly millennial". In 2006, Time named Kid A one of the 100 best albums, calling it "the opposite of easy listening, and the weirdest album to ever sell a million copies, but ... also a testament to just how complicated pop music can be". At the end of the decade, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the Times ranked Kid A the greatest album of the 2000s. The Guardian ranked it second best, calling it "a jittery premonition of the troubled, disconnected, overloaded decade to come. The sound of today, in other words, a decade early."
|Consequence of Sound||US||Top 100 Albums Ever||2010||73|
|Fact||UK||The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s||2010||7|
|The Guardian||UK||Albums of the decade||2009||2|
|The 100 Best Albums of the 21st Century||2019||16|
|Hot Press||Ireland||The 100 Best Albums Ever||2006||47|
|Mojo||UK||The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993–2006||2006||7|
|NME||UK||The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever||2006||65|
|The Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade||2009||14|
|Paste||US||The 50 Best Albums Of The Decade||2010||4|
|Pitchfork||US||Top 200 Albums of the 2000s||2009||1|
|Platendraaier||The Netherlands||Top 30 Albums of the 2000s||2015||7|
|PopMatters||UK/US||The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s||2014||1|
|Porcys||Poland||The Best Albums of 2000-2009||2010||2|
|Rolling Stone||US||The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time||2020||20|
|The 100 Best Albums of the Decade||2009||1|
|The 40 Greatest Stoner Albums||2013||6|
|Spin||US||Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years||2005||48|
|Stylus||US||The 50 Best Albums of 2000–2004||2005||1|
|Time||US||The All-Time 100 Albums||2006||*|
|The Times||UK||The 100 Best Pop Albums of the Noughties||2009||1|
|1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||US||1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||2010||*|
|Musikexpress||Germany||The 50 Best Albums of the New Millennium||2015||3|
|La Vanguardia||Spain||The Best Albums of the Decade||2010||1|
(*) designates unordered list
After a period of being out of print on vinyl, EMI reissued a double LP of Kid A on 19 August 2008 along with OK Computer, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief as part of the "From the Capitol Vaults" series. In August 2009, EMI reissued Kid A in a two-CD "Collector's Edition" and a "Special Collector's Edition" containing an additional DVD. Both versions feature live tracks, taken mostly from television performances. Radiohead, who left EMI in 2007, had no input into the reissue and the music was not remastered. The "Collector's Editions" were discontinued after Radiohead's back catalogue was transferred to XL Recordings in 2016. In May 2016, XL reissued Kid A on vinyl, along with the rest of Radiohead's back catalogue. In February 2020, Radiohead released an extended version of "Treefingers" to digital platforms. A 20th Anniversary reissue is planned for release in late 2020, in a manner similar to the OK Computer 20th anniversary reissue.
|1.||"Everything in Its Right Place"||4:11|
|3.||"The National Anthem"||5:51|
|4.||"How to Disappear Completely"||5:56|
|8.||"Idioteque" (Radiohead, Paul Lansky, Arthur Kreiger)||5:09|
|10.||"Motion Picture Soundtrack" (song ends at 3:17; includes an untitled hidden track from 4:17 until 5:12, followed by 1:44 of silence)||7:00|
|1.||"Everything in Its Right Place" (BBC Radio 1 evening session, 15 November 2000)||6:04|
|2.||"How to Disappear Completely" (BBC Radio 1 evening session, 15 November 2000)||6:37|
|3.||"Idioteque" (BBC Radio 1 evening session, 15 November 2000)||4:12|
|4.||"The National Anthem" (BBC Radio 1 evening session, 15 November 2000)||4:44|
|5.||"Optimistic" (Lamacq Live in Concert: Victoria Park, Latchford, Warrington, Cheshire, England, 2 October 2000)||4:39|
|6.||"Morning Bell" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||4:26|
|7.||"The National Anthem" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||5:01|
|8.||"How to Disappear Completely" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||5:57|
|9.||"In Limbo" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||4:42|
|10.||"Idioteque" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||4:13|
|11.||"Everything in Its Right Place" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||6:43|
|12.||"Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Live at Canal+ Studios, Paris, France, 28 April 2001)||3:55|
|13.||"True Love Waits" (from I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, 2001)||5:05|
|1.||"The National Anthem" (Live on Later... with Jools Holland, 9 June 2001)|
|2.||"Morning Bell" (Live on Later ... with Jools Holland, 9 June 2001)|
|3.||"Idioteque" (Live on Later ... with Jools Holland, 9 June 2001)|
- "Idioteque" contains two samples from the Odyssey record First Recordings – Electronic Music Winners (1976): Paul Lansky's "Mild und Leise" and Arthur Kreiger's "Short Piece".
Credits adapted from liner notes.
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Platinum||200,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||7,500^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Gold||25,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,480,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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