Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career If Radiohead Had Kept Making Accessible Music

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Hello, and welcome to the third annual Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career if Radiohead Had Kept Making Accessible Music. I’m your host, Thom Yorke: primary creative force behind Radiohead — the only band of any significance in the last decade.

Our contestants are ready for an exciting day, but first, a little background. In the mid-90s, a weary music scene turned from grunge in search of something new. Radiohead responded, producing hits like “Creep” and “High and Dry.” But we soon grew tired of 14-year-old girls singing our songs at slumber parties and decided to release increasingly complex and obscure albums. Enter today’s contestants, who have all attempted to pick up the mundane and sugar-coated mantle we willingly tossed away:

Hailing from London and sporting the finest in carefully maintained stubble and expensive sweat pants: Chris Martin and the boys from Coldplay.

Endeavoring for a second hit while playing “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” as an opening act for any tour that will have them: our underdogs, Travis.

And, fresh out of rehab, the soft and cuddly newcomers: Keane. No guitars. Aren’t they adorable?

Let’s give them all a big hand. And, oh, one more thing. Even though these lads rose to fame mimicking early Radiohead, I will be judging them by Radiohead’s current standards. Unfair? Maybe. And now, for our first challenge:

Pictorial Analysis of Woman Baking Cookies

On the screen in front of us is an antiquated picture of a middle-aged woman, apron-clad, pulling a tray of cookies from the oven. Okay contestants, please describe what is taking place here…Time’s up! Let’s see those answers.

Coldplay writes: “Is she lost, or incomplete? Does she feel like a puzzle, she can’t find her missing piece? (Fee-ee-ee-eeeeeeeeel.)”

Incorrect. Unfathomably fruity, and incorrect. Also, negative points for phrasing your answer in the form of a question, Coldplay. Do I look like Alex Trebek? No, obviously not, because I look like a gargoyle. Moving on…

Keane offers: “She’s getting older; she needs something to relyyyyyyy on.”

Wow. Truly stunning. Tell me, Keane. Now that you’re sober, what have you been relying on? A 16-year-old lyricist? Wrong. No points. Do us a favor, boys. Go grab a pint and don’t stop drinking until you’re dead. Next.

Travis?

Oh, this is interesting. Travis has not provided a verbal answer, but instead submits a mason jar containing a solitary tear drop from each band member. This, too, is incorrect, but I will award partial points because we were not actually forced to listen to anything that Travis produced. Thank you, Travis — you are gentlemen, truly.

The correct answer is: The woman’s seemingly elated expression belies her disenchantment with the corporate bastardization of the confectionery industry. Or, put lyrically: She: defeated. Stop now. Otis Spunkmeyer carcass. Traverse equals sign.

Let’s move onto our next challenge:

Write an Electric Guitar Part to Accompany My Acoustic Strumming

I will now strum a simple chord progression: C/G for two measures, into A minor for one measure, and finally into G major. Ready lead guitarists? Accompany!

Travis is playing the root note of each chord in double time while running through an industrial-sized delay pedal set at 7. That is incorrect. No points. Or imagination.

Coldplay is…Oh my! Really? Coldplay is also playing the root note of each chord in double time, but they have set their industrial-sized delay pedal to 8. Also wrong. Plus, negative points awarded for Chris Martin walking needlessly across the stage in slow motion.

Finally, Keane is doing what it does best: proving that anyone can not play guitar. Keane has actually crawled inside the piano and is plucking desperately at the strings with the butt end of a guitar pick. So help me, Keane, if you don’t stop this instant I will nail the cover shut and sell the lot of you into white slavery. You really are a bunch of — wait a second — ARE YOU CRYING, KEANE? Oh, c’mon. Wipe away those tears boys, and Daddy will show you how to play a diminished chord? Okay? There ya’ go. Who’s a big boy?

In fairness, that was actually a trick question. The correct answer is: a disgusted refusal to play anything whatsoever over a chord progression so banal.

On to our next challenge:

Without Using Words, Convey Man’s Place in an Increasingly Technological World

Okay, Keane’s up first this time. Let’s see. Very good. All three members of the band are drinking heavily. Understood. An opiate against the fake plastic tech-ocracy. Good. And now, oh, there’s a second bottle, and…hey, you’re not even playing, are you? No points. And, Christ, at least have the decency to drink real liquor. I didn’t even know they still made wine coolers.

How ’bout you, Coldplay? All eyes are on Chris as the band prostrates themselves on the floor before him. Let’s see what he comes up with. Ah, brilliant. Chris is walking and lip-syncing in slow motion again. Boy, that just never gets old. Negative points, and Mr. Martin must leave the country, taking his American wife and tragically-named offspring with him.

What’s this? Travis seems to really be up to something. They’re gathered round a dust bin and…could it be? Yes, they are actually eating the partial remains of yesterday’s lunch out of the garbage. Fascinating. Starved by the barren façade of technology, man must return to yesterday for nourishment! Good show, Travis! What’s that? You were just hungry? You haven’t been able to afford regular meals since 2003? Oh. Well, points awarded for the visual, nonetheless.

The correct answer was exactly what Travis did — except for the part about really starving to death. And now, our last challenge:

Name Radiohead’s Next Album

Okay, me and the boys are putting the final touches on our new album. For our final contest, please write down a suitable title for this LP…Time’s up.

Coldplay. Your answer is: Kid X, Y, & Z

That is just adorable. Of course, it’s wrong, as Radiohead would never come so close to repeating itself — even in titling its albums. But I am awarding partial points considering how much worse it could have been. Nevertheless, do not mistake my happy-go-lucky magnanimity for weakness, Coldplay. I’ve got my one fully functioning eye on you.

Onto, Keane who submits: Cyborg Lullabies. Oh, from the mouths of babes. Barely literate, tone deaf babes. Still, partial points for the gratuitous use of a technological reference.

And lastly, Travis, who writes: “What is an ‘LP?'”

Hmm. Perhaps that was to be expected from a band so utterly unprolific that they rely on singles-sales to prepubescents for sustenance. No points. And, as a special penalty, I will be giving the hooligans from Oasis your home address and the keys to you apartment.

If you don’t mind, Radiohead will stick with our working title, Frigid, Non-miscible Garbagescapes. Terrifyingly beautiful, no?

Well, that’s it. Let’s see who’s won. Coldplay has negative points and my well-earned disdain. Keane has one partial point and no future. That means the winner is Travis with two partial points! Of course, no matter who wins, the loser is always you, the listening public. That’s it. I’m Thom Yorke. Up next, Adam Duritz hosts a showdown between Train and The Fray in Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career If Counting Crows Hadn’t Turned To Crap. Goodnight!

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