Radiohead and the Resistant Concept Album

Radiohead and the Resistant Concept Album

How to Disappear Completely
Marianne Tatom Letts
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/08/2010
Format: Paperback 24 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22272-5
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


How the British rock band Radiohead subverts the idea of the concept album in order to articulate themes of alienation and anti-capitalism is the focus of Marianne Tatom Letts’s analysis of Kid A and Amnesiac. These experimental albums marked a departure from the band’s standard guitar-driven base layered with complex production effects. Considering the albums in the context of the band’s earlier releases, Letts explores the motivations behind this change. She places the two albums within the concept-album/progressive-rock tradition and shows how both resist that tradition. Unlike most critics of Radiohead, who focus on the band’s lyrics, videos, sociological importance, or audience reception, Letts focuses on the music itself. She investigates Radiohead’s ambivalence toward its own success, as manifested in the vanishing subject of Kid A on these two albums.

Author Bio

Marianne Tatom Letts holds music degrees from the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Austin.


“Considering Kid A and Amnesiac in the context of the band’s earlier releases, these two albums are placed within the concept-album/progressive-rock tradition showing how both resist that tradition, and investigating Radiohead's ambivalence toward its own success.”

“An objective yet provocative look at a challenging period in the work of one of rock's most adventurous bands.”
 — Kevin Holm-Hudson, author of Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

“The book is well written and researched. Further, it builds on existing rock scholarship, especially that of James Doheny, Tim Footman, Martin Clarke, Allan Moore and Anwar Ibrahim. . . . It adds to the growing field of rock scholarship and should make a fine addition to any library that boasts such a focus.”
 — Music Reference Services Quarterly

“Marianne Tatom Letts's excellent new book returns to the origins of the band's subversive marketing strategies . . . Letts's smart, in-depth account reveals as much about Radiohead's ambivalent and conflicted relationship with popular culture and contemporary capitalism as it does about their musical appeal. 8/3/2011”
 — Rain Taxi

“This is the kind of text that could likely transform a college-level music theory course for the better, prompting discussions about everything from the structure of modern rock music to the sometimes conflicted triangular relationship between performers, media and the masses. And, needless to say, it's required reading for Radiohead cultists. 2/8/2011”
 — PopMatters

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Note on Musical Examples

1. Introduction
2. Back to Save the Universe: The Reception of OK Computer and Kid A
3. Everything in Its Right Place: Musical Elements in Kid A
4. Cut the Kids in Half: The Second Death of Kid A
5. After Years of Waiting, Nothing Came: Amnesiac as Antidote
6. I Might Be Wrong: Amnesiac and Beyond
7. We Are the Dollars and Cents: Radiohead as Commodity

Select Discography

Related Titles