When they first came to prominence, Radiohead seemed like the last great band to arise from the Britpop scene of the early and mid-‘90s. However, instead of being the dying embers of moribund genre, the group ended up being the sparking a new one. They, along with their other English indie rock bands like Travis, Coldplay and Stereophonics, found significant success in their homeland by exploring more obscure and diverse influences than their predecessors.
In 1997, the group broke out from the post-Britpop pack with the release of their third album, OK Computer. The complex, haunting and massively popular record established Radiohead as one of the world’s most important rock bands. Not interested in simply ruling the rock world, the band’s next two releases, 2000’s Kid A and 2001’s Amnesiac, largely abandoned the guitar-based sound that made them famous to explore strange new electronic soundscapes. Surprisingly, the band’s fan base had no problem following them as they pursued this new direction and they enjoyed the greatest sales success of their career.
Subsequently, Radiohead has only become more esoteric in their artistry, bringing jazz, classical, and avant-rock influences into their signature sound. While the increasing opacity of their output should have alienated casual fans, the group has remained one of the most enduringly popular rock bands of the 21st century. Funnily enough, Radiohead’s iconic moniker comes from a song by another group that continued to be successful despite undergoing several major stylistic shifts.
“Radio Head” is the name of a track from Talking Heads’ 1986 seventh studio album, True Stories. Fittingly, the song is not one of the new wave band’s best known songs as it was released on their least popular records and was never released as a single. However, as pointed out by NME, Radiohead was not the band’s first choice. They initially wanted to present themselves to the world with the infinitely less cool On a Friday, a reference to the day of the week on which they had band practice.