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“Exposing the Shocking Discovery That Hail to the Thief is Actually Better than A Moon Shaped Pool BECAUSE it Doesn’t Recycle Songs”

My last post deals with the idea of parodic comic TV being a tired, antiquated old format, as in the case of Saturday Night Live, and in this post, I at least imply that the full length rock album is a similarly doomed old format. But we’ll make it through, people. We always do.
Obviously, this post is PERSPECTIVAL, more so than it is current — the primary thing I’m championing is something old, Radiohead’s album Hail to the Thief, an album that when it came out I remember considering as, like most of Radiohead’s stuff, something way too weird for me to ever fully understand. I liked it for that. It seemed an endless quagmire of dark tension, not unlike Beck’s song “Derelict” or something.
Anyway, for quantifiable, a priori evidence that Hail to the Thief is better than A Moon Shaped Pool (it’s amazing in life how often laws of microeconomics play into sound analysis of our prized entities), we need only examine the entirety of the lifespan of the song “I Will.” [1] [2]
Now, let’s backtrack here, and reconsider how we think of music. “I Will” is not a JOYOUS occasion. It’s nestled deep within an album that brought us some spellbindingly depressing songs such as “Where I End and You Begin” and “The Gloaming,” and honey, it fits right in. Even when Hail to the Thief is relatively uplifting, a la “There there” which really grows on you the more you hear it without that weird video playing on a screen, it’s not VICTORIOUS — it’s uplifting for its penchant for showing just HOW MUCH adversity there is out there to overcome, with more emphasis on the adversity than on the individual achievement (some of it arguably fashioned within the entirely Caucasian motif of overcoming one’s OWN demons to achieve happiness, in addition to outside demons). I mean, around 2003, no one’s listening to “I Will” and like shaking glow sticks around in a fit of ecstasy.
It was a VIABLE PART of a great album, if not a classic album — it pulled its own weight, and at 1:59, it sidled around coolly and didn’t wear out its welcome. I was looking for a version of it on youtube to share recently, and literally, all I could find was the long version. And honey, all the long version is is a bunch of repetition of what they’d done already in the verse and chorus (it just made it so that there was more than one verse and chorus). This is where logic sticks its ugly snout into music, and ruins it. Logic would dictate that we can take this album, which is generally thought of as great and just lengthen all the songs and the… boom! It’s like we just cloned chickens, and now we can sell them at KFC.
Now, one argument would be that “I Will” was originally TOO SHORT, and that it’s strong enough to warrant a lengthening, having been possibly originally shortened only for appearing on a really stacked album, a bully. And indeed, there might be something to this — that is to say, maybe “I Will” is every bit as deserving of multiple verses and choruses as all this di** bag sh** you hear on the radio today.
But at the same time, what could be seen as more tired and played out than this stupid verse/chorus format we have, in the first place? Part of the brilliance of Wu-Tang’s 1997 single “Triumph” is that it HAS no chorus, and 10 different emcees appear on the track, each offering something that in no way represents a repetition. There is ZERO repetition in the original version of “I Will,” and what’s more, it was one of those tracks that, along with nestling within the back of the album, nestled within the back of your mind as well for its subtlety, the way an album track should do. The long version only speaks boorish volumes of wanting to drag its pale face out into the harsh sunlight for sheer economic commodification — the awakening spawn of an album that now announces itself as having once been a packed parking lot of competing paeans.
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[1] All of the songs on Hail to the Thief appear with alternative titles, but the alternative titles are in fact not set in quotes on the wikipedia track listing, and they don’t appear at all over in the list of released singles, so I’ve elected to leave them out for purposes of this post.

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[2] Contrary to all of the band’s albums which have come before, A Moon Shaped Pool hashes out an already released Radiohead song, “True Love Waits,” and trots it out hoping to allure fans of this “new” project.

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Radiohead – “I Will” (original album version)

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