Chosen Artist RadioheadSong 1 Subterranean Homesick Alien talks

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Subterranean Homesick Alien talks about the concept of alienation and in multiple ways, feeling different and isolated from the rest of the general population. The author believes that he is not really at home, and wishes to escape the confines of this world, where representations, ideas and beliefs are more in concert with his thinking. This idea that believing that oneself has their unique way of thinking can be related to the concept of ‘Self Complexity’, which is defined as – the extent to which individuals have many different and relatively independent ways of thinking about themselves.

Evidence for this is seen especially in the sixth stanza with the lyrics, “I’d tell all my friends but they’d never believe me They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely I’d show them the stars and the meaning of life They’d shut me away”.

On a personal note I’ve come to understand that experiences and world views lead to independent modes of thought regarding individuals, yet at the same time I cannot seem to share some of my own ideas in a space that retains reality whilst also blending in abstraction.

As a musician it is quite a challenge to produce songs, especially ones that contain lyrics that really represent my thought, while at the same time trying to convey something meaningful.

Song 2) Weird Fishes looks at someone who’s at an all-time low, who then decides to bring their life back on track, whilst at the same time questioning as to why they were in such a rut in the first place.

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This theme correlates with the concept of ‘Self Esteem’ – an individual’s sense of his or her value or worth, or the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself. Lyrics such as ‘I get eaten by the worms and weird fishes’, and at ‘the bottom of the sea’ are indicative of negative evaluations of oneself, which then turns into the author questioning ‘Why should I stay here?’ suggesting that the author is trying to get out of this pit that he has built for himself.

I started listening to this song after a very close friend of mine suffering from self-esteem issues had a very untowardly death, leading me to question the reasons behind it, as well as take a look central points in my own life and in what tones I appraise myself. High and dry is a song that highlights the various drawbacks to putting forward a false image of yourself to the public, only to lose your own identity with no one to fall back on. Thus, it is only appropriate that this song be related to the concept of ‘Self-presentation’ which is defined as “how people attempt to present themselves to control or shape how others (called the audience) view them. It involves expressing oneself and behaving in ways that create a desired impression”.

Valid examples from the song that support this concept include, “Kill yourself for recognition, kill yourself to never ever stop” and “You’re turning into something you are not”, show how one might try to exude a persona in order to leave a favourable social impression, even though it may not be who they really are. Looking back on myself as a young teenager trying to fit into the plus two section of a new school, I saw myself engaging in behaviours and trying to socialise with people that did not really coincide with the kind of character I used to be in my previous school. The aspect of self-presentation, and the methods I used to meld with this new dynamic of students changed rather dramatically, finally realising after I had graduated that none of it had played any permanent role in a new chapter of my life, college.

Day Dreaming was one of the first songs we sung as a choir back in school, and holds significant meaning as it elucidates on the ‘Self-concept’- “the sum total of an individual’s beliefs about his or her own personal attributes” (Saul Kassin), something that is dynamic and based on past and present experiences within a social setting. This particular song looks at someone who has experienced a multiplicity of events and situations as ‘dreamers’, who ‘never learn’, finally resolving to a person who is just ‘happy to serve’ within a society.

After having rehearsed the lyrics multiple times during school hours, and now finally a university student, it has come to be a journey of realisation through many failures and successes, that in order to sustain ourselves we have to build achievable goals, some of which many not always be a part of what our dreams envision, and that ultimately regardless of what position we place ourselves in we are catering to the rubric that constructs our society, something that is almost inescapable.

Song 5) No surprises according to the lead singer Thom Yorke, is about an individual trying very hard to keep their life together, in order to pass off as a seemingly ‘normal person’, but failing to do so. One could say that this person is very aware of themselves and more importantly fixating on their self-concept due to his/her concerns about being observed by others, and maybe even judged which is a concept known as ‘Self Consciousness’. The individual in question here has a ‘heart that’s full up like a landfill’, slogging away continuously which makes him look rather ‘tired and unhappy’ all in efforts to portray a wealthy and positive image, as he has ‘a pretty house and such a pretty garden’ at the expense of his/her own self.

As a growing performer, one tends to become very self-conscious when on the stage with the knowledge that even the slightest mistake can cause negative evaluations and as a result, I tend to become very aware of what I project externally as well as my current state of mind, which is almost always tense. Delving deeper into the lyrics I also began to realise that this is a reality for many people within society, working long and tiring hours just to be economically stable and have a roof over their heads.

Subterranean Homesick Alien- prior to recording the housing album, Radiohead had been touring endlessly to promote their previous album, which did not allow them with much free time. At the same time (1996) technology was also taking off, and lead singer Thom Yorke felt a large disconnect from the society he thought he knew. The song inevitably looks at how he feels alienated and longs for his home, with which he is familiar as well as being tired with his daily routine.

Weird Fishes- Part of the album ‘In rainbow’, in an interview with the Rolling stone magazine Yorke talks about the song and more so the album looking at a state of transience, the realisation that one day we all eventually die, and hence should make the most of what we can, while we can, which is why the lyrics constructed talk about lifting oneself out of an emotional pit.  Having been pressured by the Band’s label to have a market ready song within a short period of time, Yorke felt that the song was rushed as well as ‘’a very bad song”, (greene, 2017) which alludes to its messages of building a false yet presentable social image. He expresses his unhappiness with the development of the song as well as the final product just to have it ready for release in accordance with the label, which was something that did not coincide with what he had originally envisioned for the song.

Day Dreaming- as the title suggests is a portrayal of Yorke as a dreamer, and describes the ended relationship of 23 years between him and his lover, Rachel Owen with the lyrics ‘half of my life’. Within the song Yorke mentions his tendencies to grow disconnected as well as retreat within himself which is one of the reasons as to why the relationship turned sour in the first place, realising his ‘mistake’, too late. No surprises-was written whilst on a two hour long bus ride filled with pensioners, and although seemingly cast with political overtones with the lyrics “bring down the government, they don’t speak for us”, Yorke insists that this is merely a mind-state of questioning as to why people are being dropped, and why the democracy is not helping, nothing beyond that.

Having extensively explored Radiohead’s songs quite recently, I knew their sombre and eerie tones coupled with soulful and honest descriptions about the state of mind of the lead singer Thom Yorke, would make for a fair amount of relatable content that could be correlated with the concepts of self as well that were studied in the second module of social psychology. Much of the lyrics present look at states of realisation and the various emotions one feels, many of which are understandings I have come to realise within the university atmosphere, mostly from interacting and gleaning from other people’s life experiences. The correlation between my interpretations and how the lyrics represent parts of my life, is not far off from the point of view and the meaning of the songs according to lyricist Thom Yorke, suggesting that his intended message was put across effectively, showing just how efficient songs as a platform for communication are.

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Chosen Artist RadioheadSong 1 Subterranean Homesick Alien talks. (2019, Nov 19). Retrieved from

Chosen Artist RadioheadSong 1 Subterranean Homesick Alien talks
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