Radiohead, as a band, are good at tension. This not only applies to their music but also their place in musical culture. There is something about them we can't quite put our finger on.
Music is deeply tied to us in the personal and the social. Radiohead crosses those social borders and appeals to a number of social groups. People have found common ground through Paranoid Android and There There, and that alone is important enough to write about.
"Capitalism finds its enemies and makes them its best friends" - Johnson quoted in Seiler 1998:59
Brands and companies know the worth of identity and consumption through rock music. They latch on and adopt the same qualities these bands have that attract audiences. Somehow, Radiohead seems to slip through these grips. Of course, they are part of the money making machine, but there is still a part of them that continues to subvert the corporate side of the music industry.
Again, this was an explicit subversion and cool as hell. Radiohead released the album online with no price tag. You paid what you felt it was worth to you. It was a way to dodge the corporate and show audiences respect. While other bands were griping about people downloading music, Radiohead was ahead of the curve by offering their audience options and engaging with them.
Pitchfork just released an exploration of "Karma Police".
Radiohead offers as many layers in their music videos as they do in their songs.
1995's "The Bends" weaved the light and dark while it introduced lyrics that challenged capitalism. They played with the irony that they are part of the corporate world while they wrestle within that hierarchy. Here is where Radiohead laid down their first political footprint.
I don't have the answer to this.
Maybe it's because it's obvious? Or they've been around for so long? Do they transcend the categories of popular music?
"Creep" is easily one of Radiohead's most iconic songs. Despite this, the band and most of their fans hate it. For Thom Yorke, the song didn't reflect the band properly and he felt like it was steering their image and expectation of sound in the wrong direction. The band clearly cares about their work.