Advanced Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English
Student's Comparison / Contrast Essay

 From "The Bends" to "Hail to the Thief"
Roberto Sanchez

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to define a music style because of the numerous combinations of others that combine to form new ones. I think this is what happens to Radiohead, who is considered by the critics as one of the best bands in the world of modern music. They have released several studio albums, singles, and live recordings. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast “The Bends (1995)” and “Hail to the Thief (2003)” in regard to the instruments used, the accomplishments with each album, and the lyrics’ content.

“The Bends” was Radiohead’s second studio album. The instruments used in it are electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, drums, and vocals. You could say that the traditional rock instruments were used as opposed to the newer resources available today. In their sixth studio album “Hail to the Thief,” besides the instruments used in “The Bends,” they used some other sources, such as electronic devices and new sounds programmed in computers.

The accomplishments they succeeded with these two albums are different. In their beginnings, if someone had the idea that they were a one hit wonder band, with “The Bends” this idea was quickly dismissed. Furthermore, the recording of this album was full of expectations that were successfully completed. For example, their recording company was expecting a way too better album than the first one (“Pablo Honey”). While they were in tour with “The Bends,” they were the ideal opening band. What they got from their last album was their consolidation as an important band and a turn of 360º in their music. If the past studio album (“Amnesiac”) was very good, with “Hail to the Thief” they excelled, and the sound they have now is not that experimental but more mature.

In “Hail to the Thief,” the lyrics express a feeling of nonconformity and repulsion towards George Bush, global violence, wars, and terrorism. In their second album they express the problems of human existence, emotions, and contradictions. It is concerned more in the interior of the self rather than the world in which we live.

Radiohead is a clear example of the maturity a band can reach through the years. There is an enormous difference between the sound of their second album compared to their sixth album in many aspects, including the lyrics’ content. They have achieved different goals with each of them, and now they belong to the icons of modern music.


A Classmate's Response to Roberto's Essay:

Hi Roberto,

I really enjoyed reading your essay because I like music.  Not as much as you do I am sure, but still I really like music and musical culture.  Radiohead has a famous song which I have heard and I liked it a lot.  It is called "Creep" and I believe that almost everyone has heard it, but anyway the point is that I enjoyed reading your essay because I got to know other interesting facts about this band.  After reading your essay, I was able to go to Kazaa and download some music from the records that you mention.  Thanks again, and I hope that you will keep yourself inside the music and maybe someday we will hear from you in the radio or somewhere else like we do with Radiohead.


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