10 Facts About Radiohead’s Kid A for Its 20th Anniversary

A photo of Radiohead members Phil Selway, Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood, and Ed O'Brien in 1995.
A photo of Radiohead members Phil Selway, Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood, and Ed O'Brien in 1995.
Photo by Gie Knaeps/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Radiohead released their album Kid A on October 2, 2000, few music fans were prepared for it. Anyone expecting that the band's follow-up to 1997's OK Computer would just be a rehash of that earlier album was likely taken aback when they pressed play and heard the despondent synthesizer melody on “Everything In Its Right Place.”

Kid A has been recognized by critics as Radiohead’s best album, as well as one of the greatest albums of all-time—period. Here are some facts about the album that Pitchfork reviewer Brent DiCrescenzo described as "an album which completely obliterates how albums, and Radiohead themselves, will be considered."

1. Radiohead shied away from guitar on Kid A.

Kid A isn’t completely without guitar, but the instrument is severely downplayed, especially when compared to the band's previous albums. For a group of musicians with the combined playing talents of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Ed O’Brien, minimizing guitar in favor of electronics was gutsy, if not a little reckless. Speaking with Q, Yorke talked about his writer's block with the instrument.

“Every time I picked up a guitar I just got the horrors,” Yorke said. In the same interview, O'Brien said he wanted them to “have really nice-sounding guitars and do something really snappy” for the album. It’s pretty clear who won out.

2. Kid A was recorded in several different cities.

Parlophone via Amazon

Listening to Kid A doesn’t exactly feel like touring Europe, but Radiohead recorded parts of the album in Paris, Copenhagen, and Gloucestershire, England. Greenwood described recording in the first two cities as “pretty much wash-outs” before reaching the Gloucestershire mansion known as Batsford Park. They had a private studio being built, but it wasn’t ready until September 1999.

3. Radiohead's sound got "warped" for Kid A.

Fans of Warp Records will immediately hear the influence of the label on Kid A, specifically the work of revered electronic artists Aphex Twin and Autechre. Yorke devoured both of those artists’s work after the band's OK Computer tour was over. Warp has continued to push the envelope for experimental/electronic artists, with acclaimed acts like Flying Lotus and Oneohtrix Point Never having joined their fold.

4. Kid A could have spelled the end of Radiohead.

Parlophone, Radiohead's label, didn’t give the band a deadline for finishing the album. While that seems like it should have reduced their stress, O’Brien told Q that it actually exacerbated tension by making it difficult to focus on one thing. The band agreed to split if they couldn’t settle on a quality album. In February 2000, disputes about the track order also nearly caused them to break up.

5. Kid A did not feature any singles.

Although Kid A has a reputation for being a somewhat challenging album, there are at least a few tracks that are catchy enough to have worked reasonably well as singles on an alternative rock station’s playlist. However, songs like “Idioteque” and “The National Anthem” didn’t get any advanced release, nor did they have music videos. Radiohead was defying many expectations, including ones about how albums are supposed to be promoted.

6. Kid A was one of the first streamable albums.

As you read this, you’re probably listening to something on a music streaming service (maybe even Kid A). However, in 2000, the idea of being able to listen to an album on your computer, legally, was beyond novel. Speaking with Grantland in 2015, former Capitol Records executive Robin Sloan Bechtel said she believed that making the album available to hear for free, weeks before it was available physically, could translate to strong sales. So Bechtel's hunch was tested with Kid A—and it paid off ...

7. Kid A was Radiohead’s first number 1 album in the U.S.

Kid A was Radiohead’s fourth studio album—following 1993's Pablo Honey, 1995's The Bends, and 1997's OK Computer—but their very first album to top the U.S. Billboard chart. It eventually reached platinum status in the States, selling more than 1 million copies. It also topped the charts in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. In Rainbows, their 2007 hit, is the only other Radiohead album to reach the top spot on the U.S. Billboard chart.

8. Thom Yorke called the week Radiohead appeared on Saturday Night Live in support of Kid A the "best week" of his life.

Radiohead singer-guitarist Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead performs in Houston, Texas.Kelly Buck/Liaison/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

On October 14, 2000, Radiohead made their first of (so far) two appearances as Saturday Night Live's musical guest. Their appearance happened to coincide with Kid A being the number 1 album an America—a moment that Yorke once described as the "best week" of his life.

9. Radiohead recorded enough material for Kid A to fill two albums.

It didn’t take long for Radiohead to release Amnesiac, their follow-up album to Kid A. This is because they had the songs ready from their Kid A sessions. Released in 2001, Amnesiac feels both like an extension of Kid A as well as its own creation.

10. Rolling Stone named Kid A the best album of the 2000s.

It doesn't get much more iconic than this. In 2011, Rolling Stone released their list of the 100 best albums of the 2000s—with Kid A in the top spot, just ahead of The Strokes's Is This It. In their review of the album, the magazine wrote:

"Only 10 months into the century, Radiohead had made the decade's best album—by rebuilding rock itself, with a new set of basics and a bleak but potent humanity. Yorke's loathing of celebrity inspired the contrary beauty of 'How to Disappear Completely,' with its watery orchestration and his voice flickering in and out of earshot. His electronically squished pleading in Kid A sounded like a baby kicking inside a hard drive."

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Jimi Hendrix’s Connection to Hogan's Alley—Vancouver's Lost Black Neighborhood

Marjut Valakivi, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons
Marjut Valakivi, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

From the early 1900s through the 1960s, Hogan’s Alley—the unofficial name of Park Lane, an alley that ran between Union and Prior Streets in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood—was a multicultural area that hosted an enclave of Black Canadians, largely immigrants and their descendants, who had resettled from American states to find work, generally on the Great Northern Railway system.

As a result of rampant racism and housing discrimination within the city, many of Vancouver's Black residents also migrated there, establishing numerous businesses including Pullman Porters’ Club, famed eatery Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, and the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel, the city’s only Black church at the time, which was partly spearheaded by Zenora Rose Hendrix—a pillar of the community and grandmother to legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix. Yet, despite the neighborhood's thriving business and cultural scene, city officials didn't hesitate to level Hogan's Alley and displace its many residents when it got in the way of an ill-conceived government construction project that was eventually abandoned altogether.

As national uprisings in support of the Black Lives Matter movement continue, racism has been declared a public health crisis throughout the U.S. following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement. Standing in solidarity with Americans calling for an end to police militarization, cultural advocates in Vancouver have been outraged by the harsh treatment of protesters in the United States. Growing frustration in the area has prompted a demand for the once-bustling, historic Black community of Hogan’s Alley to be recultivated as a cultural, commercial, and residential center for Black Vancouverites.

The Rise and Fall of Hogan's Alley

Ross and Nora Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix's paternal grandparents.Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Zenora “Nora” Rose Hendrix was born in the States, but became a much-admired member of the Hogan's Alley community. Nora (who, like her grandson, was a talented musician) was a cook at Vie's, a restaurant that was frequented by jazz icons including Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong during concert stops.

Jimi, who was raised in Seattle, forged a strong bond with the area during summer visits with his grandparents and via a short stint living with them, during which he attended first grade at Vancouver’s Dawson Annex School. He returned to the area in the early 1960s, where he regularly performed at local venues like Dante’s Inferno and Smilin’ Buddha.

At the same time Jimi was building his reputation as a world-renowned musician, the city of Vancouver began work on a development project to replace and expand the Georgia viaduct. To accommodate its redevelopment, which included the construction of a new interurban freeway, parts of the city would need to be destroyed. Hogan’s Alley was among the neighborhoods that city authorities had deemed disposable because, according to the Vancouver Heritage Fund, it had a reputation as “a center of squalor, immorality, and crime.”

Vancouver’s Chinatown was yet another neighborhood that was at the top of the list to be razed to make way for the Georgia viaduct and its new freeway, but Chinatown residents and the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) were able to effectively protest and shield that area from demolition. Though many of Hogan’s Alley’s Black residents participated in protests against the urban renewal agenda that was aimed at wiping out their neighborhood, they were unsuccessful.

In 1967, work on the first phase of construction began, effectively erasing the western half of Hogan’s Alley and forcing many Black families to leave the area in search of new housing and better opportunities. Though the building of the freeway was eventually stopped, it was too late for the residents of Hogan’s Alley.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Hogan's Alley: Then and NowMike via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In the near-half-century since the demise of Hogan’s Alley, no other cultural epicenter for Vancouver’s Black community has sprung up to take its place. Today, even within the city, the story of Hogan’s Alley and its dismantling is largely unknown—though there have been various efforts made to ensure that the neighborhood and its importance to the city’s history are not forgotten.

When the city revealed its plans to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in 2015, the announcement received a lot of attention in the area. In June 2020 activists—including members of the Hogan's Alley Society, a nonprofit organization that works to highlight the contributions of Black Vancouverites to the city’s history—held a peaceful protest wherein they occupied the viaducts in order to bring attention to the role the structures played in the decimation of Hogan's Alley. While they're happy to see the viaducts go, the protestors want to make sure that the city fulfills its promise to erect a Black Cultural Center in the structures' place and restore a vital part of Vancouver's lost Black history.

Dr. June Francis, chair of the Hogan’s Alley Society, told Global News the viaducts were “a monument to the displacement and the oppression of the Black community ... [Hogan’s Alley] was erased by the actions of the city.”

While the city promised to build a cultural center where Hogan's Alley once stood, Francis said two years have passed with no actions taken to fulfill that commitment. "I expect the city, actually, to come out with a definitive statement to these young people to say 'We believe in your future and here is our response to you,'" she said.

A Shrine to Jimi

Vancouver's Jimi Hendrix ShrineRunran via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2019, Nora Hendrix Place—a three-story, 52-unit, modular housing facility—was opened in the former Hogan’s Alley area to provide temporary shelter to the city’s homeless population. According to The Star, “The building will be run by the Portland Hotel Society and have a focus on supporting marginalized groups experiencing homelessness, while also including design elements shaped by Black culture.” But Nora’s famous grandson hasn't been forgotten either.

In the 1990s, a Jimi Hendrix Shrine—a small, fire engine red temple—was created where Vie’s once stood. It was an homage to Jimi’s career and the time he spent in Hogan’s Alley, complete with vinyl records, concert flyers, and letters from Jimi to his grandmother. Though the space is currently closed, its creator, Vincent Fodera, hopes to not only upgrade the shrine but to eventually have a 32-foot statue of Jimi towering over it.

While few physical reminders of Hogan’s Alley remain today, thanks to the lasting contributions of the area’s residents—including the Hendrix family—and the tireless efforts of its preservation advocates, the legacy of Hogan’s Alley’s will hopefully once again become an indelible part of the cultural fabric of Vancouver and its history.