Radiohead’s 1997 landmark album, “OK Computer,” has just earned a new credential. The album won the 1998 Grammy for best alternative album and has been a favorite among fans, including myself.
Now, it will be preserved by the Library of Congress.
“OK Computer” is Radiohead’s third full-length album. It extended the band’s fan base with songs like “Karma Police,” “No Surprises” and “Paranoid Android.” It shifted the band’s sound from predominantly guitar driven to the experimental approach it is known for today. The sound was considered innovative for its time.
In the late 1990s, when the airwaves were saturated by pop music and alternative rock, the album enlightened the rock scene with modern digital-aged fusion of electronica and guitar riffs. The diversity of the album also showed off lead vocalist’s Thom Yorke’s creativity and eccentrics.
Matthew Barton, a recorded sound curator at the library, said Radiohead’s “OK Computer” has been getting public nominations and considerable discussion from the board for many years. “Support for OK Computer has been building since it became eligible.”
“The expression of feelings of alienation, fears for the future and trying to deal with your own impermanence now has a pretty long history in rock music” Barton said. “’OK Computer’ is a very effective and lasting work of that kind, but very original in its own right.”
The National Recording Registry takes on the annual task of adding 25 new recordings to be preserved in the library. The National Recording Preservation Board, a group of professional organizations and experts in the recording process narrows the list.
Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the board chooses recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and at least 10 years old.
The final selections are made by James Billington, librarian of Congress.
“Billington decides, following a year-long deliberative process,” Barton said. “The process involves the library’s Recorded Sound Section, the National Recording Preservation Board and the public, who can nominate recordings via email.”
Barton said that the board tries to cover a broad historical range.
“This includes many different genres of music, as well as radio broadcasts, field recordings, poetry and other spoken word recordings,” Barton said.
Albums by The Doors, Lauryn Hill, Sly and the Family Stone, Joan Baez and others will also be admitted.
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