OK Computer (Parlophone/Capitol, 1997)
In 1997 for their third album,
English alternative rock band Radiohead were looking to shake things up a bit. They wanted to distance themselves from their guitar-oriented, lyrically
introspective previous album, The Bends. They also wanted a wee bit more control. They released OK Computer which was self-produced by the band and featured abstract lyrics and a densely layered sound which was indicative of the wide range of influences. (OK Computer laid the groundwork for future experimentation in their subsequent work because it was a huge success.) Critics across the board were unanimous in their acclaim and OK Computer is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock albums of the 1990s. OK Computer initiated the shift away from Britpop to the more melancholy and atmospheric style of alternative rock that rose to prominence over the next decade. Perhaps the only people not happy with OK Computer (until sales came in) were the studio executives at Capitol. Before its release they lowered their sales estimates, believing the album wouldn’t sell. In fact, OK Computer reached #1 in their native UK and has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. It became Radiohead’s highest entry in the U.S. (at the time) by debuting at #21 and expanded Radiohead’s worldwide popularity. OK Computer also hit #1 in New Zealand and on the Belgium chart. It went top five in Canada, France, Sweden and on the Dutch chart. OK Computer additionally went top ten in Australia. Certifications (worldwide) range from Gold to 5 times Platinum (in the UK).
Four singles were released. Paranoid Android hit #3 in the UK. Karma Police hit #8 in the UK and #14 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. No Surprises hit #4 in the UK. Lucky was released as an exclusive single only in France.