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Kid A is the fourth studio album by the English rock band Radiohead, released on 2 October 2000 by Parlophone. After the stress of promoting Radiohead's acclaimed 1997 album OK Computer, songwriter Thom Yorke envisioned a radical change in direction. The band replaced their guitar rock sound with synthesisers, drum machines, the ondes Martenot, string orchestras and brass instruments, drawing influence from electronic music, krautrock, jazz, and 20th-century classical music. They recorded Kid A with OK Computer producer Nigel Godrich in Paris, Copenhagen, Gloucestershire and their hometown Oxford, England. The sessions produced over 20 tracks, and Radiohead split the work into two albums: Kid A, and Amnesiac, released the following year.

Kid A
Studio album by
Released2 October 2000
RecordedJanuary 1999 – April 2000
  • Guillaume Tell, Paris
  • Medley, Copenhagen
  • Unnamed studio, Oxford, England
Radiohead chronology
Airbag / How Am I Driving?
Kid A
Radiohead studio album chronology
OK Computer
Kid A

Radiohead released no singles or music videos to promote Kid A and conducted few interviews and photoshoots. Instead, they became one of the first major acts to use the internet as a promotional tool; the album was made available to stream and was promoted with short animated films featuring music and artwork. Bootlegs of early performances were shared on file-sharing services, and the album was leaked before release.

Kid A debuted at the top of the charts in Britain, where it went platinum in the first week, and it became Radiohead's first number-one album in the United States. Like OK Computer, it won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. Its departure from Radiohead's earlier sound divided fans and critics, and some dismissed it as pretentious or deliberately obscure. However, Kid A later attracted wider acclaim; at the turn of the decade, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the Times ranked Kid A the greatest album of the 2000s. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it number 67 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.



Following the critical and commercial success of their 1997 album OK Computer, the members of Radiohead suffered burnout.[1] Yorke became ill, describing himself as "a complete fucking mess ... completely unhinged".[1] Drummer Philip Selway said Radiohead worried that the success had "turned us into a one-trick band".[2] Bassist Colin Greenwood said: "We felt we had to change everything. There were other guitar bands out there trying to do similar things. We had to move on."[3] Guitarist Ed O'Brien had hoped Radiohead's fourth album would comprise "snappy", melodic guitar songs, but Yorke stated: "There was no chance of the album sounding like that. I'd completely had it with melody. I just wanted rhythm. All melodies to me were pure embarrassment."[2]

Troubled by new acts he felt were imitating Radiohead,[4] Yorke believed his music had become part of a constant background noise he described as "fridge buzz",[5] and became hostile to the music media.[1][6] He told The Guardian: "I always used to use music as a way of moving on and dealing with things, and I sort of felt like that the thing that helped me deal with things had been sold to the highest bidder and I was simply doing its bidding. And I couldn't handle that."[1] He suffered from writer's block, and could not finish writing songs on guitar.[2]

Yorke became disillusioned with the "mythology" of rock music, feeling the genre had "run its course".[7] He had been a DJ and part of a techno band at Exeter University,[7] and following OK Computer began to listen almost exclusively to the electronic music of Warp artists such as Aphex Twin and Autechre: "It was refreshing because the music was all structures and had no human voices in it. But I felt just as emotional about it as I'd ever felt about guitar music."[1] He liked the idea of his voice being used as an instrument rather than having a leading role, and intended to move Radiohead from traditional songwriting and instead focus on sounds and textures.[4]

Yorke bought a house in Cornwall and spent his time walking the cliffs and drawing, restricting his musical activity to playing the grand piano he had recently bought.[8] "Everything in Its Right Place" was the first song he wrote.[8] He described himself as a "shit piano player", with little knowledge of electronic instruments: "I remember this Tom Waits quote from years ago, that what keeps him going as a songwriter is his complete ignorance of the instruments he's using. So everything's a novelty. That's one of the reasons I wanted to get into computers and synths, because I didn't understand how the fuck they worked. I had no idea what ADSR meant."[9]


Jonny Greenwood playing the ondes Martenot (pictured in 2010).

Radiohead began work on Kid A in Paris in January 1999 with OK Computer producer Nigel Godrich and no deadline. Yorke, who had the greatest control in the band, was still facing writer's block. His new songs were incomplete, and some consisted of little more than sounds or drum machine rhythms; few had clear verses or choruses.[2] The other members struggled with Yorke's change of direction; brothers Jonny and Colin Greenwood expressed fear that the album might become "gratuitous ... random digital experimentation"[2] or "awful art-rock nonsense just for its own sake".[2] According to Yorke, Godrich "didn't understand why, if we had such a strength in one thing, we would want to do something else. But at the same time he trusted me to have an idea of what I wanted."[10]

The band had to accept that not every member would play on every song, which caused conflict. O'Brien said: "It's scary – everyone feels insecure. I'm a guitarist and suddenly it's like, well, there are no guitars on this track, or no drums."[2] Instead of working as a traditional rock band, they experimented with electronic instruments including modular synthesisers and the ondes Martenot, an early theremin-like electronic instrument. They used software such as Pro Tools and Cubase to edit and manipulate their recordings.[2] At the suggestion of Michael Brook, creator of the Infinite Guitar, O'Brien began using sustain units, which allow guitar notes to be sustained infinitely, combined with looping and delay effects to create synthesiser-like sounds.[11]

In March, Radiohead moved to Medley Studios in Copenhagen for two weeks. The sessions produced about 50 reels of tape each containing 15 minutes of music, with nothing finished. In April, Radiohead resumed recording in a Gloucestershire mansion. The lack of deadline and the number of incomplete ideas made it hard for the band to focus, and they agreed to disband if they could not agree on an album worth releasing.[2]

Radiohead recorded the strings for "How to Disappear Completely" in Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire.

In July, O'Brien began keeping an online diary of Radiohead's progress.[12] In the same month, Radiohead moved to their new studio in their hometown Oxford.[2] In November, Radiohead broadcast a webcast from their studio, featuring a DJ set and a performance of the new song "Knives Out".[13] By the end of 1999, six songs were complete, including the title track.[2] In January 2000, at Godrich's suggestion, Radiohead split into two groups: one would generate a sound or sequence and the other would develop it without acoustic instruments such as guitars or drums. Though the experiment produced no finished songs, it helped convince the band of the new direction.[2]

Jonny Greenwood described the first track, "Everything in its Right Place", as a turning point for the album recording: "We knew it had to be the first song, and everything just followed after it."[14] It was recorded on a Prophet 5 synthesiser,[15] with vocals processed using a scrubbing tool in Pro Tools.[16]

Yorke had recorded a demo of "The National Anthem" when the band was still in school.[17] In 1997, Radiohead recorded drums and bass for the song, intending to develop it for an OK Computer B-side, but decided to save it for their next album.[17] Greenwood added ondes Martenot and sampled sounds from radio stations,[17] and Yorke's vocals were processed with a ring modulator.[18] In November 1999,[18] Radiohead recorded a brass section inspired by the "organised chaos" of Town Hall Concert by the jazz musician Charles Mingus. Yorke and Greenwood directed the musicians to sound like a "traffic jam"; according to Yorke, he jumped up and down so much during his conducting that he broke his foot.[19]

The strings were performed by the Orchestra of St John's and recorded in Dorchester Abbey, a 12th-century church about five miles from Radiohead's Oxfordshire studio.[20][21] Radiohead chose the orchestra as they had performed pieces by Penderecki and Messiaen.[19] Greenwood, the only Radiohead member trained in music theory, composed a string arrangement for "How to Disappear Completely" by multitracking his ondes Martenot.[17] According to Godrich, when the musicians saw Greenwood's score "they all just sort of burst into giggles, because they couldn’t do what he’d written, because it was impossible – or impossible for them, anyway".[22] The orchestra leader John Lubbock encouraged the musicians to experiment and work with Greenwood's "naive" ideas.[23] Concerts director Alison Atkinson said the session was "more experimental" than the orchestra's usual bookings, and that Greenwood instructed the players to swing in the style of jazz musicians.[20]

Radiohead sampled this portion of "Mild und Leise", a 1976 computer music composition by Paul Lansky, for "Idioteque".

"Idioteque" was built from a drum machine pattern Greenwood created with a modular synthesiser. Feeling it "needed chaos", he experimented with found sounds and sampling.[24] He gave the unfinished 50-minute recording to Yorke, who took a short section of it and used it to write the song.[24] Greenwood could not remember where the song's four-chord synthesiser phrase had come from, and assumed he had recorded it himself; he later realised he had sampled it from "Mild und Leise", a computer music piece by Paul Lansky released on the 1976 LP First Recordings – Electronic Music Winners. Lansky allowed Radiohead to use the sample after Greenwood wrote to him with a copy of the song.[17]

Yorke had recorded a version of "Motion Picture Soundtrack" on piano during the OK Computer sessions.[25] For Kid A, he recorded it on a harmonium pedal organ, influenced by songwriter Tom Waits; Greenwood added samples of harps, attempting to recreate the atmosphere of 1950s Disney films.[17][26] Radiohead also worked on several songs that were not completed until recording sessions for future albums, including "Nude",[27] "Burn the Witch"[28] and "True Love Waits".[29]

On 19 April, Yorke wrote on Radiohead's website: "Yesterday we finished recording. I am free and happy and now I'm going for a walk in the park."[6] Having completed over 20 songs,[30] the band considered a double album, but felt the material was too dense.[31] Instead, Radiohead saved half the songs for their next album, Amnesiac, released the following year. Yorke said Radiohead split the work into two albums because "they cancel each other out as overall finished things. They come from two different places, I think ... In some weird way I think Amnesiac gives another take on Kid A, a form of explanation."[32] Kid A was mastered by Chris Blair in Abbey Road Studios, London.[33]


Style and influencesEdit

Kid A incorporates influences from electronic artists on Warp Records,[2] such as 1990s IDM artists Autechre and Aphex Twin;[1] 1970s Krautrock bands such as Can;[2] the jazz of Charles Mingus,[19] Alice Coltrane and Miles Davis;[4] and abstract hip hop from the Mo'Wax label, including Blackalicious and DJ Krush.[34] Yorke cited Remain in Light (1980) by Talking Heads as a "massive reference point".[35] Björk was another major influence,[36][18] particularly her 1997 album Homogenic,[37] as was the Beta Band.[38] Radiohead attended an Underworld concert which helped renew their enthusiasm in a difficult moment.[39]

The string orchestration for "How to Disappear Completely" was influenced by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki.[1] Jonny Greenwood's use of the ondes Martenot on this and several other Kid A songs was inspired by Olivier Messiaen, who popularised the instrument and was one of Greenwood's teenage heroes.[40] "Idioteque" samples two computer music pieces, Paul Lansky's "Mild Und Leise" and Arthur Kreiger's "Short Piece". Both samples were taken from Electronic Music Winners, a 1976 experimental music LP which Jonny Greenwood stumbled upon while the band was working on Kid A. Yorke also referred to electronic dance music when talking about "Idioteque", and said that the song was "an attempt to capture that exploding beat sound where you're at the club and the PA's so loud, you know it's doing damage".[4]

"Motion Picture Soundtrack" was written before Radiohead's debut single "Creep".[41] Yorke recorded it on a pedal organ; the other band members added sampled harp and double bass, attempting to emulate the soundtracks of 1950s Disney films.[17][26] Jonny Greenwood described his interest in mixing old and new music technology,[40] and during the recording sessions Yorke read Ian MacDonald's Revolution in the Head, which chronicles the Beatles' recordings with George Martin during the 1960s.[4] The band also sought to combine electronic manipulations with jam sessions in the studio, stating their model was the German group Can.[2]

Kid A incorporates elements of electronica,[42][43][44] experimental rock,[45][46] post-rock,[47][48] alternative rock,[49] post-prog,[50] ambient,[51] and electronic rock.[52] Though guitar is less prominent than on previous Radiohead albums, guitars were still used on most tracks.[4] The instrumental "Treefingers" was created by digitally processing recordings of O'Brien's guitar to create an ambient sound.[53] Many of Yorke's vocals are heavily modified by digital effects; for example, his vocals on the title track were simply spoken, then vocoded with the ondes Martenot to create the melody.[4]


Yorke wrote many of Kid A's lyrics by cutting up words and phrases and assembling them at random, combining everyday cliches and banal observations ("Where'd you park the car?") with violent imagery ("Cut the kids in half").[54] He cited David Byrne's approach to lyrics on the 1980 Talking Heads album Remain in Light as an influence: "When they made that record, they had no real songs, just wrote it all as they went along. Byrne turned up with pages and pages, and just picked stuff up and threw bits in all the time. And that's exactly how I approached Kid A."[4] Radiohead used Yorke's lyrics "like pieces in a collage ... [creating] an artwork out of a lot of different little things".[2] The lyrics are not included in the liner notes, as Radiohead felt they could not be considered independently of the music,[55] and Yorke said he did not want listeners to focus on them.[4]

Yorke wrote "Everything in Its Right Place" about the depression he experienced on the OK Computer tour, feeling he could not speak.[56] The refrain of "How to Disappear Completely" was inspired by R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, who advised Yorke to relieve tour stress by repeating to himself: "I'm not here, this isn't happening".[57] The refrain of "Optimistic" ("try the best you can / the best you can is good enough") was an assurance by Yorke's partner, Rachel Owen, when Yorke was frustrated with the band's progress.[2]

The title Kid A came from the name of one of Radiohead's sequencers.[58] Yorke said he liked its "non-meaning", saying: "If you call [an album] something specific, it drives the record in a certain way."[59]


The Kid A artwork and packaging was created by Yorke with Stanley Donwood, who has worked with Radiohead since their 1994 EP My Iron Lung.[60] While working on the artwork, Yorke and Donwood became "obsessed" with the Worldwatch Institute website, which was full of "scary statistics about ice caps melting, and weather patterns changing"; this inspired them to use an image of a mountain range as the cover art.[61] Donwood said he saw the mountains as "landscapes of power ... some sort of cataclysmic power existing in landscape."[62]

The cover was also inspired by a photograph taken during the Kosovo War depicting a square metre of snow full of the "detritus of war", such as military equipment and cigarette stains. Donwood said: "I was upset by it in a way war had never upset me before. It felt like it was happening in my street." Donwood painted on large canvases with knives and sticks, then photographed the paintings and manipulated them with Photoshop.[63]

The red swimming pool on the album spine and disc was inspired by the 1988 graphic novel Brought to Light by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz, in which the number of people killed by state terrorism is measured in 50-gallon swimming pools filled with blood. Donwood said this image "haunted" him during the recording of the album, calling it "a symbol of looming danger and shattered expectations".[64]


Anticipation for Kid A was high; Spin described it as the most highly anticipated rock record since Nirvana's In Utero.[65] To avoid repeating the stress of promoting OK Computer, Radiohead minimised their involvement in the Kid A marketing,[66] conducting few interviews or photoshoots.[67] They released no singles, though "Optimistic" and promotional copies of other tracks received radio play. MTV2,[68] KROQ, and WXRK played the album in its entirety.[1] No advance copies of the album were circulated,[69] but it was played under controlled conditions for critics and fans.[70] Radiohead were careful to present the album as a cohesive work rather than a series of separate tracks; rather than give record label executives copies to consider individually, they had them listen to the album in its entirety on a bus from Hollywood to Malibu.[71] According to the Observer, one critic called the album "a commercial suicide note".[7] Rob Gordon, vice president of marketing at Capitol Records, the American subsidiary of Radiohead's label EMI, praised the album but said promoting it would be a "business challenge".[72]

Everything in the industry at that point was like, 'The internet isn't important. It's not selling records' – everything for them had to translate to a sale. I knew the internet was [generating sales], but I couldn't prove it because every record had MTV and radio with it. [After Kid A was a success], nobody in the industry could believe it because there was no radio and there was no traditional music video. I knew at that point: this is the story of the internet. The internet has done this.

– Capitol executive Robin Sloan Bechtel, 2015[71]

Kid A's promotional campaign introduced the "Modified Bear" logo, used for later Radiohead marketing and merchandise[73][a]

At the time, the use of the internet for music promotion was not widespread, and record labels were still reliant on MTV and radio.[71] Capitol launched an innovative marketing campaign, broadcasting "blips", short films set to Kid A's music, on music channels and distributing them online.[72] The "iBlip", a Java applet, could be embedded in fan sites and allowed users to preorder and stream the album; it was used by over 1000 sites and the album was streamed more than 400,000 times.[71] The iBlip also included artwork, photos and links to pre-order the album on the online retailer Amazon. Capitol also streamed the album through Amazon, and, and for three days ran a promotional campaign with the peer-to-peer filesharing service Aimster, allowing users to swap iBlips and Radiohead-branded Aimster skins.[72]

Three weeks before release, Kid A was leaked online and shared on the peer-to-peer service Napster. Asked whether he believed Napster had damaged sales, Capitol president Ray Lott likened the situation to unfounded concern about home taping in the 1980s and said: "I'm trying to sell as many Radiohead albums as possible. If I worried about what Napster would do, I wouldn't sell as many albums."[72] Yorke said Napster "encourages enthusiasm for music in a way that the music industry has long forgotten to do".[77]


In early 2000, Radiohead toured the Mediterranean, performing Kid A and Amnesiac songs for the first time.[78] By the time the album title was announced in mid-2000, fans were sharing concert bootlegs online. Colin Greenwood said: "We played in Barcelona and the next day the entire performance was up on Napster. Three weeks later when we got to play in Israel the audience knew the words to all the new songs and it was wonderful."[79]

In late 2000, Radiohead toured Europe in a custom-built tent without corporate logos, playing mostly new songs.[80] They also performed three concerts in North American theatres, their first in nearly three years. The small venues sold out rapidly, attracting celebrities, and fans who camped overnight.[6] In October, the band performed on the American comedy show Saturday Night Live; the performance shocked some viewers expecting rock songs, with Jonny Greenwood playing electronic instruments, the house brass band improvising over "The National Anthem", and Yorke dancing erratically to "Idioteque".[81] In November 2001, Radiohead released a live EP, I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, comprising recordings from the Kid A and Amnesiac tours.[81]


Kid A reached number one on Amazon's sales chart, with more than 10,000 pre-orders.[72] In the UK, it sold 55,000 copies in its first day of release,[67] the biggest first-day sales of the year and more than every other album in the top ten combined.[67] It debuted at number one in the charts in the UK,[67] US,[82] France, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada. It was the first US number one in three years for any British act, and Radiohead's first US top 20 album.[72][83] European sales slowed on 2 October 2000, the day of release, when 150,000 faulty CDs were recalled by EMI.[67]


Professional ratings
Contemporary reviews
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The Austin Chronicle     [85]
Chicago Sun-Times    [86]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[87]
The Guardian     [88]
Q     [91]
Rolling Stone     [92]
The Village VoiceA−[94]

Kid A was widely anticipated.[95][20] Months before its release, Melody Maker wrote: "If there's one band that promises to return rock to us, it's Radiohead."[20] However, the album surprised listeners who expected more of the rock music of Radiohead's earlier albums. After it had been played for critics, the Guardian wrote: "The first time you hear Kid A ... you'll probably scratch your head and think, huh? What are they on about? For starters, why are the guitars only on three songs? What's with all the muted electronic hums, pulses and tones? And why is Thom Yorke's voice completely indistinguishable for most of the time?"[1] Some fans were disappointed that songs Radiohead had performed on the prerelease tour, such as "Pyramid Song" and "Knives Out", were not included; the songs were later released on Amnesiac.[96]

Mojo wrote that "upon first listen, Kid A is just awful ... Too often it sounds like the fragments that they began the writing process with – a loop, a riff, a mumbled line of text, have been set in concrete and had other, lesser ideas piled on top."[97] In the New Yorker, novelist Nick Hornby criticised the obscured vocals and lack of guitar and wrote: "The album is morbid proof that this sort of self-indulgence results in a weird kind of anonymity rather than something distinctive and original."[98] Melody Maker critic Mark Beaumont called the album "tubby, ostentatious, self-congratulatory, look-ma-I-can-suck-my-own-cock whiny old rubbish ... Kid A is the result of studio sessions in Gloucestershire where about 60 songs were started that no one had a bloody clue how to finish".[99]

Guardian critic Adam Sweeting wrote that "even listeners raised on krautrock or Ornette Coleman will find Kid A a mystifying experience ... It also fails to sweep away preconceptions about Radiohead, pandering to the worst cliches about their relentless miserabilism".[88] Alexis Petridis, also of the Guardian, described it as "self-consciously awkward and bloody-minded, the noise made by a band trying so hard to make a 'difficult' album that they felt it beneath them to write any songs".[100] The Irish Times panned Kid A as a "confused, aimless mess ... Guitar riffs, melodies and choruses have been replaced by diffident string-crunching, desolate wailing and juddering, repeated phrases ... The only thing challenging about Kid A is the very real challenge to your attention span."[95] In the New York Times, Howard Hampton dismissed Radiohead as a "rock composite" and wrote that Kid A "recycles Pink Floyd's dark-side-of-the-moon solipsism to Me-Decade perfection".[101]

Some critics felt the electronic elements were unoriginal. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote that the "mastery of Warp-style electronic effects" was "clumsy and dated".[96] Beaumont asked: "Are Radiohead trying to push the experimental rock envelope, unaware that they're simply ploughing furrows dug by DJ Shadow and Brian Eno before them?"[99] Select wrote: "What do they want for sounding like the Aphex Twin circa 1993, a medal?”[96]

AllMusic gave Kid A a favourable review, but wrote that it "never is as visionary or stunning as OK Computer, nor does it really repay the intensive time it demands in order for it to sink in".[81] The NME was also positive, but described some songs as "meandering" and "anticlimactic", and concluded: "For all its feats of brinkmanship, the patently magnificent construct called Kid A betrays a band playing one-handed just to prove they can, scared to commit itself emotionally."[6] In Rolling Stone, David Fricke called Kid A "a work of deliberately inky, often irritating obsession ... But this is pop, a music of ornery, glistening guile and honest ache, and it will feel good under your skin once you let it get there."[92]

Spin said Kid A was "not the act of career suicide or feat of self-indulgence it will be castigated as", and predicted that fans would recognise it as Radiohead's "best and bravest" album.[93] Billboard described it as "an ocean of unparalleled musical depth" and "the first truly groundbreaking album of the 21st century".[102] Robert Christgau wrote that Kid A is "an imaginative, imitative variation on a pop staple: sadness made pretty".[94] The Village Voice called it "oblique oblique oblique ... Also incredibly beautiful."[24] Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork gave Kid A a perfect score, calling it "cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike". He concluded that Radiohead "must be the greatest band alive, if not the best since you know who".[90] The piece was one of the first Kid A reviews posted online; shared widely by Radiohead fans, it helped popularise Pitchfork and became notorious for its "obtuse" writing.[103]

At Metacritic, which aggregates ratings from critics, Kid A has a score of 80 based on 24 reviews, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[84] It was named one of the best albums of 2000 by publications including the Los Angeles Times, Spin, Melody Maker, Mojo, the NME, Pitchfork, Q, the Times, Uncut, and the Wire.[104] At the 2001 Grammy Awards, Kid A was nominated for Album of the Year and won the award for Best Alternative Album.[105][106]


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic     [42]
The A.V. ClubA[107]
Q     [109]
Record Collector     [110]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [111]

In the years following its release, Kid A attracted acclaim. In 2005, Pitchfork wrote that Kid A had "challenged and confounded" Radiohead's audience, and that it had "transformed into an intellectual symbol of sorts ... Owning it became 'getting it'; getting it became 'anointing it'."[112] In 2015, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone likened Radiohead's change to style to Bob Dylan's controversial move to rock music, writing: "There’s no controversy over Kid A any more ... Nobody admits now they hated Kid A at the time ... Nobody wants to be the clod who didn't get it."[96] He described Kid A as the "defining moment in the Radiohead legend".[96]

In a 2011 Guardian article about his critical Melody Maker review, Beaumont wrote that though his opinion had not changed, "Kid A's status as a cultural cornerstone has proved me, if not wrong, then very much in the minority ... People whose opinions I trust claim it to be their favourite album ever."[113] However, in 2014, Brice Ezell of PopMatters wrote that Kid A is "more fun to think and write about than it is to actually listen to" and "far less compelling representation of the band's talents than The Bends and OK Computer".[114] In 2016, Dorian Lysnkey wrote in the Guardian: "At times, Kid A is dull enough to make you fervently wish that they'd merged the highlights with the best bits of the similarly spotty Amnesiac ... Yorke had given up on coherent lyrics so one can only guess at what he was worrying about."[115]

Radiohead denied that they had set out to create "difficult" music. Jonny Greenwood said: "If that was true, we'd have done a much better job of it ... It's not that challenging – everything's still four minutes long, it's melodic."[4] He suggested that "people basically want their hands held through 12 'Mull Of Kintyre's".[4] Yorke said: "We're actually trying to communicate but somewhere along the line, we just seemed to piss off a lot of people ... What we're doing isn't that radical."[116] He said the band regretted releasing no singles, feeling it meant much of the early judgement of the album came from critics.[66]

Grantland credited Kid A for pioneering the use of internet to stream and promote music, writing: "For many music fans of a certain age and persuasion, Kid A was the first album experienced primarily via the internet – it's where you went to hear it, read the reviews, and argue about whether it was a masterpiece ... Listen early, form an opinion quickly, state it publicly, and move on to the next big record by the official release date. In that way, Kid A invented modern music culture as we know it."[71]

In his 2005 book Killing Yourself to Live, critic Chuck Klosterman interpreted Kid A as a prediction of the September 11 attacks.[113] In 2019, David Byrne of Talking Heads, one of Radiohead's formative influences, said: "What was really weird and very encouraging was that [Kid A] was popular. It was a hit! It proved to me that the artistic risk paid off and music fans sometimes are not stupid."[117]

Best-of listsEdit

In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Kid A number 428 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[118] In its updated 2012 version of the list, Rolling Stone ranked Kid A number 67, the highest-ranking album released that decade, writing that "Kid A remains the most groundbreaking rock album of the '00s".[119] Rolling Stone named "Everything in its Right Place" the 24th best song of the decade, describing it as "oddness at its most hummable".[120]

In 2005, Stylus Magazine[121] and Pitchfork named Kid A the best album of the previous five years, with Pitchfork calling it "the perfect record for its time: ominous, surreal, and impossibly millennial".[112] In 2006, Time named Kid A one of the 100 best albums, calling it "the opposite of easy listening, and the weirdest album to ever sell a million copies, but ... also a testament to just how complicated pop music can be".[122] At the end of the decade, Rolling Stone,[123] Pitchfork[124] and the Times[125] ranked Kid A the greatest album of the 2000s. The Guardian ranked it second best, calling it "a jittery premonition of the troubled, disconnected, overloaded decade to come. The sound of today, in other words, a decade early."[126]


After a period of being out of print on vinyl, EMI reissued a double LP of Kid A on 19 August 2008 along with OK Computer, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief as part of the "From the Capitol Vaults" series.[127] In August 2009, EMI reissued Kid A in a two-CD "Collector's Edition" and a "Special Collector's Edition" containing an additional DVD. Both versions feature live tracks, taken mostly from television performances. Radiohead, who left EMI in 2007,[128] had no input into the reissue and the music was not remastered.[129] The "Collector's Editions" were discontinued after Radiohead's back catalogue was transferred to XL Recordings in 2016.[130] In May 2016, XL reissued Kid A along with the rest of Radiohead's back catalogue on vinyl.[131]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Fact UK The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s[132] 2010 7
The Guardian UK Albums of the decade[126] 2009 2
Hot Press Ireland The 100 Best Albums Ever[133] 2006 47
Mojo UK The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993–2006[134] 2006 7
NME UK The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever[135] 2006 65
NME UK The Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade[136] 2009 14
Pitchfork US Top 200 Albums of the 2000s[137] 2009 1
Platendraaier The Netherlands Top 30 Albums of the 2000s[138] 2015 7
Rolling Stone US The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[139] 2012 67
The 100 Best Albums of the Decade[123] 2009 1
The 40 Greatest Stoner Albums[140] 2013 6
Spin US Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years[141] 2005 48
Stylus US The 50 Best Albums of 2000–2004[142] 2005 1
Time US The All-Time 100 Albums[143] 2006 *
The Times UK The 100 Best Pop Albums of the Noughties[125] 2009 1
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die US 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[144] 2010 *

(*) designates unordered list

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Radiohead (Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Philip Selway, Thom Yorke), except where noted.

1."Everything in Its Right Place"4:11
2."Kid A"4:44
3."The National Anthem"5:51
4."How to Disappear Completely"5:56
7."In Limbo"3:31
8."Idioteque" (Radiohead, Paul Lansky, Arthur Kreiger)5:09
9."Morning Bell"4:35
10."Motion Picture Soundtrack" (song ends at 3:17; includes an untitled hidden track from 4:17 until 5:12, followed by 1:44 of silence)7:00
Total length:49:56


  • "Idioteque" contains two samples from the Odyssey title First Recordings – Electronic Music Winners (1976): Paul Lansky's "Mild und Leise" and Arthur Kreiger's "Short Piece".


Credits adapted from liner notes.


Chart (2000) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[147] 2
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[148] 5
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[149] 3
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[150] 4
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[151] 1
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[152] 4
French Albums (SNEP)[153] 1
Irish Albums (IRMA)[154] 1
Italian Albums (FIMI)[155] 3
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[156] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[157] 3
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[158] 8
UK Albums (OCC)[159] 1
US Billboard 200[160] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[161] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[162] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[163] Platinum 200,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[164] Platinum 200,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[165] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[166] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[168] Platinum 1,480,000[167]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ The bear head logo is known as "Modified Bear",[73][74] "Despot Bear",[75] "Hunting Bear"[75] and "Blinky Bear".[75][76]


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Further readingEdit