Songwriting Analysis: Radiohead “Idioteque”

Radiohead: Kid A

Radiohead’s “Idioteque” off of the Kid A album is a hypnotic tune that’s become an unexpected crowd favorite and live staple.  Since it’s a rather understated tune, what’s in the song absolutely has to work in order for it to hold together and maintain the audience’s attention.  How do they do it?

  • The verse features a syncopated rhythmic motif, which more than makes up for the static melodic content.
  • The chorus goes up to a different range, creating a distinct contrast from the groove-driven but limited-range verses.
  • The use of highly unusual locrian mode throughout creates an exotic and unsettling feel.

One Comment

  1. Fascinating about the rhythmic verses with little going on musically. When I think about it, a song like ‘Eminence Front’ is like that in the verses musically. The words have more meaning than the music, but the notes have a beat to them. I love that song, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me before this. Great insight.

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