On an experiment with Radiohead and fifth graders.

I was in a meeting all day, hence the light blogging. This will probably be the case tomorrow and Wednesday; I should be more active on Thursday. And I’ll have some blog-related news at the end of the week.

On to the entry.

I’m as big a fan of Radiohead as any– well, compared to a serious Thom Yorke fanatic I’m way down there, but I’m a really great admirer of theirs and listen to them quite regularly– so I read this article with a mixture of fascination and unease.

When you listen to Radiohead, you’re no longer actually listening to Radiohead — you’re listening to everyone’s opinion about Radiohead. It’s impossible to separate what you hear from what you’ve read. You are betrayed by what you know, and you know way too much.

Thus, in order to solicit an honest, undiluted opinion about Radiohead, you’d have to find the proverbial People Living Under Rocks. As People Living Under Rocks are unavailable, let’s use fifth graders.

Specifically, Mitsi Kato’s fifth-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary in San Leandro.

On the one hand, this sounds like the kind of fifth grade I really would have grooved in; on the other hand, I wonder if this doesn’t constitute a violation of protocols regarding the experimental use of human subjects.

The kids consent to this experiment, if only because Mitsi tells them to. They do, however, immediately request that we play Sean Paul or 50 Cent instead.

“This is not hip-hop,” Mitsi says. “I’m not asking if you like it.”

She doesn’t have to ask. They don’t.

We begin with Hail to the Thief, Radiohead’s latest, a critically adored and hopelessly muddled platter of art rock weirdness. The kids shift restlessly as “2+2=5” sputters into guitar-and-drum-machine gear….

For the first few songs, the kids hardly move, scarcely even changing facial expressions. One girl plants her head on her desk face-first. The “hold your head in your hands and look completely confused” look is extremely popular.

But slowly, they begin drawing. One kid starts scrawling a guitar; the girl next to him immediately begins copying — an apt metaphor for music criticism.


[via The Modern Age]