Pop is dead

Premier live (acoustique) : 11 février 1993 (Signal Radio)
Enregistrement : mars 1993
Sortie sur single : 10 mai 1993
Clip : mai 1993
Premier live (groupe) : 25 juin 1995 (Japon)

[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 6 février 1993 [/button]

Thom, ironique,  annonce la nouvelle chanson et son thème.

[quote cite=”Thom Yorke / melody maker, 6 février 1993″]Explains Thom,”I wrote ’Pop Is Dead’ as a kind of epitaph to 1992. Hence the lines, ’Pop is Dead/ Died an ugly death by back catalogue’.”
What are Radiohead saying here, Thom?
“Well,” grins the modest Mr Yorke, “with this LP, we’re actually going to save pop music. Then we’re going onto write an album of grunge film music and, by the third album, we’re all leaving the band and replacing ourselves with members of The James Last Orchestra.”[/quote]


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 11 février 1993 [/button]

Thom, Jonny et Ed interprètent une version acoustique de la chanson sur Signal Radio. C’est la première version live de la chanson (enregistrement proposé par le site citizeninsane) :


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 13 février 1993 [/button]

Thom dédicace pour la première fois la chanson à Freddie Mercury dans un article du NME. Il trouve que sa chanson est une charge au vitriol.

[quote cite=”Thom Yorke / NME, 13 février 1993″]”I think I’d get bored far too easily. I hope we don’t get to the point where people will think, shut up and stop moaning. Besides, we like to be angry too, and one of the new songs, ‘Pop is Dead’ is really vitriolic.”

AH YES, “Pop is Dead”. The closing song in the Radiohead show, a wonderfully sustained farce in which the shagged-out corpse of popular music just isn’t able to manage any more It gets dragged out on its knees, and then keels over. It’s had so many face-lifts that its face pops open like an old onion. Rotten old pop. Thom likes to dedicate it to Freddie Mercury.[/quote]

Le 23 février, la chanson est jouée une seconde fois en acoustique, toujours à la radio, sur France Inter à Paris, lors d’une Black Session.

[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] mars 1993 [/button]

Le groupe enregistre une version studio de la chansons aux studios Courtyard, près d’Oxford, lors d’une session acoustique assez productive avec Jim Warren (High And Dry, The Bends, Nice Dream…). La version de “Pop is dead” qui en émerge est plus lente que celle que l’on entendra par la suite :

[quote cite=”Interview d’Ed pour Citizen Insane / 7 juillet 2008″]Michael: “And another such occasion where you did a session in between touring was during Pablo Honey – and that’s a long time ago – I think there was a ‘Pop Is Dead’ session?”

Ed: “There was a what?”

Michael: “‘Pop Is Dead’.”

Ed: “Yeah. That’s right.”

Michael: “Maybe a mistake, but…”

Ed: “1993. Yeah.”

Michael: “March or something.”

Ed: “Yeah.”


Ed: “No, no. ‘Pop Is Dead’ was recorded with our sound engineer, Jim Warren, in… er… what was the studio called? It was called, erm… well, you know what the studio is.”

Michael: “Yeah.”

Ed: “And then ‘High and Dry’ was recorded at Courtyard with Jim.”

Michael: “Ok. And was that a demo session where you recorded more than that song?”

Ed: “Yeah.”

Michael: “Because there are actually… we have some demos from that session.”

Ed: “Oh really?”

Michael: “A slow version of ‘Pop Is Dead’… it’s slower than the one you released…”

Ed: “Yeah, yeah.”

Michael: “And there’s ‘Banana Co.’…”

Ed: “Yeah.”

Michael: “‘The Bends’…”

Ed: “Where did you get these?

Michael: “I have no idea. There’s a bootleg called Radiotick or something like that…”

Ed: “Right.”

Michael: “And there are four songs. And ‘Nice Dream’. And that demo of ‘Nice Dream’ was actually released on some compilation.”

Ed: “Was it? Oh yeah, maybe. Yeah. The demo.”

Michael: “Yeah. And that would be the same session as ‘High and Dry’?”

Ed: “Yeah.”[/quote]

(enregistrement proposé par le site citizeninsane)

Ce n’est pas cette première version, plus lente, que l’on retrouvera sur les singles !


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 30 mars 1993 [/button]

Creep a cartonné en Israël, et le succès du groupe est parti de là. Radiohead accorde donc une place à part à ce pays pour la promotion.

Le 30 mars, ils sont les invités d’une radio israélienne, où le présentateur passe des titres et discute tranquillement… Vient le tour de “Pop Is Dead”. La chanson n’est pas sur l’album, et elle ne figure pas encore sur un single. Thom, Jonny et Colin s’en explique : le groupe a voulu manifester son désaccord avec le monde la musique qui préfère confortablement sortir des best-of, voués à rapporter de l’argent, plutôt qu’investir dans de jeunes talents à qui laisserait le temps de se développer. Toutefois, “Pop is dead” ne correspondait pas à l’esprit “Pablo Honey”…

[quote cite=”Galei Tzahal / 30 mars 1993”]Interviewer: “Pop Is Dead! [HEB] Pop is dead, almost a world premiere, it was never released, Radiohead.”

[‘Pop Is Dead’ is played]

Interviewer: “That’s it?”

Ed: “(laughing) Yes, sure.”

Colin: “Short and sweet.”

Interviewer: “Let’s talk about the meaning of the song ‘Pop Is Dead’. I know that… Thom, I talked with you on the phone before a few weeks.”

Thom: “Mmmh.”

Interviewer: “And umm, I had the feeling that you think that the situation of pop music today is very bad.”

Thom: “Uh yeah, yeah. It…”

Interviewer: “So maybe… all the band will talk about this point for a few seconds…”

Thom: “Someone else start off, ’cause I’m always the one ranting on it…”

Interviewer: “Ok.”

Colin: “Well, I used to work in a record shop in England and err… and like… you’d release The Doors’ Greatest Hits album with depressing regularity and err… we just can’t sell too many copies of it and…”

Interviewer: “Oh, I’ve got it here!”

(Everybody laughing)

Colin: “You know, I mean that’s fine but err, you know, every two years The Doors are discovered again, when, you know, the time could be spent better by the record company and the public discovering new bands as well, and err… it’s an easy option for record companies in a recession.”

Ed: “They don’t have to invest in new talent, you know.”

Interviewer: “All the time new talents, no?”

Thom: “Yes but…”

Interviewer: “There are too many records, I think, nowadays…”

Thom: “Yeah, but um… they, they don’t invest, erm, in talent umm… any, any foresight… they don’t umm… a band has to be given time to develop, to learn, you know, how to do it and things…”

Colin: “Like us! (laughs)”

Thom: “Exactly. Erm and… what happens is that record companies sign bands, give them loads and loads of money, and then if they don’t have a hit straight away then they… throw them off.”

Interviewer: “I’ll translate…”

Thom: “Ok, yeah, yeah…”

Interviewer: “…in short what you said. [HEB]Um, I asked them about the situation of pop music, because I know they have a somewhat bad opinion about it and that’s… [ENG] Erm, what is your, pardon… Can you introduce yourself, for I don’t know the faces.”

Colin: “Yeah… uh, I’m Colin, I’m the bass player.”

Interviewer: “[HEB] Colin! The bass player of the band, said that he used to work in a record store, and people keep buying The Doors albums, and every year they release a new record of The Doors, and the record companies don’t really invest in new things, but in things that would sell, and apart from that, they don’t give a chance for the bands to develop and instead they keep demanding from them immediate hits, and if it’s not a hit, so they just kick them out. [ENG] But you are OK, even though your first two… your first EP didn’t sell well…”

(everybody laughing)

Colin: “Well, it sold… it would… if we would have been on an independent label in England it would have been, like, top 10 in the independent chart… but it didn’t sell well ’cause we were on a major label and in the commercial chart we didn’t do so well…”

Interviewer: “I’m talking about Drill, not about ‘Creep’, because in Israel everybody thought that ‘Creep’ was your first…”

Thom: “Yeah, a lot of people did… (laughing)”

Interviewer: “There are songs that were on the EPs or the singles that didn’t, err, come to the album. Like err, I like the song ‘Inside My Head’ very much.”

Thom: “Mmhh-Hmmm.”

Colin: “Alright!”

Interviewer: “Why didn’t you put it on the album?”

Thom: “Errmm…”

Interviewer: “Hard question?”

Thom: “Yeah! It is!”

Interviewer: “Why?”

Thom: “We were very unhappy with the way it ended up, actually. Erm, we weren’t happy about the way it ended up on tape. Erm… pfff…”

Phil: “Didn’t really sound like us!”

Thom: “Yeah, it…”

Phil: “It was us trying, in a way, trying to sound like something else, which never works.”

Interviewer: “Like who?”

Thom: “Erm, pffff… (giggling)”

Jonny: “It didn’t fit with the rest of the album.” [/quote]


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] avril 1993 [/button]

Dans une interview d’avril, le groupe explique cette fois qu’ils ont envie de sortir Pop Is Dead en single, mais que Parlophone s’est un opposé à l’affaire, préférant jouer la sécurité en sortant des singles des chansons de l’album !

Le groupe a toutefois su trouver les arguments, et a obtenu le droit de produire la chanson pour qu’elle intègre un single. Il semblerait qu’Al Clay (qui travaillait avec Frank Black) ait produit un premier mix, qui ne plaisait pas au groupe, ainsi que Dave Bascombe, pour un second mix selon Thom qui a couté plus cher pour un résultat encore plus mauvais (car trop commercial) !

[quote cite=”Lime Lizard “Radiohead: Oy Vey Their Way” / avril 1994″]Was there any resistance from Parlophone about releasing ‘Pop is Dead’?

Colin: “Yes, they said ’No’.”

Thom: “Did they?”

Colin, smugly, “But we had the statistics to back us up. Frank and Walters’ label carried out a survey which showed that releasing another single after the album came out did not increase album sales.” Jonathan: “And was also very, very expensive.”

Thom: “‘Pop is Dead’ marks a point. It puts a full stop on what we’ve been trying to say for ages. And now we can move on as a progression rather than ‘that’s it, bye bye’. It’s a very vitriolic song and I think it homes in on what people think.”

Colin: “The kids will like it.”

Jonathan: “I’m a kid. I like it.”

Thom: “Our audiences now know all the words to it which is very interesting seeing as it’s never been played other than live. Perhaps there are some bootlegs floating around. It had different mixes one of which was done by Al Clay who did Frank Black. Wasn’t very good.”

Jonathan: “And Dave Bascombe – which was very expensive and even worse.”

Colin: “l liked it.”

Thom: “‘Cos it was radio-friendly.”

Colin: “It was. Very commercial. I’m the commercially-minded member of the band – along with Ed.”

Thom: “Jon refuses to sell out and I do occasionally.”

Colin: “Thom probably has the healthiest attitude.”[/quote]

[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 10 mai 1993 [/button]

Un Single Pop is Dead sort “enfin” sur le marché anglais, avec dans la foulée un clip de promotion très… euh… Jonny n’avait déjà en 1993 pas l’air très emballé par l’idée de faire un clip pour Pop Is Dead :

[quote cite=”Jonny Greenwood / Dissident, mai 1993″]What are you up to next, are you shooting a video for Pop is Dead?

Yeah we are shooting a video for it. Videos are funny things. They cost ridiculous amounts of money, although what we do are to budget. We didn’t want to do one for this. The other two didn’t get shown outside of MTV.


Dans le clip, tourné à White Horse Hill et Jam Mound, Oxfordshire, Angleterre (wikipedia indique le site néolithique de Wayland’s Smithy) , Thom se trouve dans un cercueil, il est porté, habillé comme dracula avec le visage tout blême, et chante d’un drôle de manière… Le cortège traverse une grande étendue d’herbe… Par moment la lumière devient noire et on voit une sorte … d’extra terrestre (?) dans une tenue bleue, qui danse…. Sur cela s’intercalent des images du groupe qui joue dans un décor de rochers à la lumière sombre avec parfois des flashs de lumière blanche…. Thom est cette fois-ci « normal », les cheveux blonds, une manière de chanter plus ’habituelle’…. le reste du groupe est lui aussi « normal », à noter quand même Jonny dans un tee shirt à large rayures noires et blanches qui lui donne un air de bagnard… Voilà… disons que le « is dead » (est mort) a été pris au pied de la lettre dans le scenario.


Dwight Clarke a aussi réalisé le (très laid) clip d’Anyone Can Play Guitar…


La chanson est généralement jouée en fin de concert, dédiée soit à Freddy Mercury, soit aux journalistes.


Ca ne sera pas le pire classement pour un single de Radiohead, mais le 22 mai 1993 , le single atteint son meilleure classement des ventes dans les charts anglais avec la 42e place……


Et finalement, le groupe, avec un peu de recul, s’est rendu compte que la chanson était quand même bien ridicule, et l’a reniée… Thom a même été jusqu’à répondre à la question ’mais vous vous rendez que si vous faites un titre où vous pétez tous les 5 pendant 4 minutes, nous l’achèterons quand même ?’ : ’on l’a déjà fait, ça s’appelle Pop is Dead’ (chat sur irc).


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] 25 juin 1995 [/button]

La chanson est jouée pour la dernière fois lors d’un concert au Japon.


Dernière fois, puisque le groupe n’y va plus avec le dos de la cuillère pour les auto-critiques :

[quote cite=”Ed O’Brien / Melody maker, 24 mai 1997″]We don’t do irony,” confirms Ed. “The only times we’ve tried were when we were in America, where it just goes over everyone’s heads, and on ‘Pop Is Dead’, which was rubbish. Surprisingly, those Saturday morning TV show offers didn’t come pouring in.[/quote]


[quote cite=”Ed O’Brien & Colin Greenwood / NME, 21 juin 1997”]ED’S DAD sounds like a great bloke. He rates Primal Scream, reads the music press and rips the piss out of old Radiohead videos. He actually throws parties, bringing all of his mates around for a few beers, for some banter and the inevitable rerun of the ‘Pop Is Dead’ promo. That’s his favourite.
“What’s going on there, then?” he’ll ask his boy, jabbing at the remote control switch. “You call that a music video? So why is there a lizard in that scene? Explain it to me.” He rewinds the tape just for the hell of it, thoroughly enjoying himself, as his guests chortle at the grand pretentiousness of it all.
“Look. A lizard. Call yourself an O’Brien? Do you, son?”


Ed: “The thing is, when ‘The Bends’ was released, we felt we were still fighting people’s preconceptions. We thought it was great – we don’t release a record unless we think it’s really good. But we’d had no critical acclaim, which is fair enough, because we were an incredibly inconsistent band.
“It’s not surprising people thought we were crap. And we’d released dodgy singles. ‘Pop Is Dead’ – I have to admit that was a rubbish record.”
Colin: “Keith Richards would say, it’s the price of an education…”[/quote]



En 2011, Adam Buxton, un proche du groupe, tourne un peu partout dans le monde avec une soirée spéciale autour de radiohead le “Radiohead Bug Show” où sont réunis des fans et des membres du groupe (en vidéoconférence le plus souvent) à qui on présente des vieilles vidéos, des enregistrements exclusifs… Lors d’une ces soirées, Adam (AB) passe le vieux clip de Pop is Dead, et ça fait réagir Jonny Greenwood (JG)  ainsi que Colin (CG):

[quote cite=’The Bug Radiohead Show 2011/2012‘ align=’none’]AB: Pop is Dead, wow this was er, this was a high concept one, again by Dwight Clarke
JG: This is one that makes me murmur out loud in embarrassment whenever i think of it. Do you know what i mean?
AB: Em but, while the concept
JG: (murmurs in embarrassment)
AB: The concept being that pop is literally dead and thom is pop. Pop is Dead. POPS WAKING UP. Pops alright, he’s just a bit ill. When you were making these where you just excited with being a band with being signed?
CG: They gave us 300 quid each to go buy new outfits, so we all bought outfits that made it look like we were in a completely different band.
AB: I presume the answer is no, but was there no sense of like..Oh god look at that…there was no sense of anything saying ‘Ok guys, we’ve got to think like, videos are a very important part of projecting an image, we’ve got to be careful about what we do’ was there anything like that? Or was were you just saying oh do you know, commission someone and ill do what you want?
CG: Well what does it look like to you?[/quote]

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Amatrice du groupe, surtout en concert. Travaille sur ce site depuis 10 ans.

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