July 2012 MeFi Music Album Challenge: OK Computer

July 2, 2012 8:14 PM

As previously discussed here: In July 2009, MetaFilter Music’s challenge for the month was to cover the entire album of The Velvet Underground and Nico, one song at a time, with the songs assigned to the musicians in a master MeFi Music Talk post. You can listen to the results here. Now we’re doing it again. Song assignments inside.

The album: Radiohead’s OK Computer

How it works:

If you want to participate and you didn't already sign up, send me a MeFiMail or make an unequivocal comment here or in the MetaTalk thread and I'll make your assignment.

Then work on your song. Post it in MeFiMusic before July 31. Be sure to tag your submission "mefimusicchallenge" and “OKComputer” so listeners can easily follow along.

Some people love OK Computer. Others don’t. I hope musical MeFites will participate whether they like the album or not, since some of the most interesting submissions will likely come from people who have no particular love for the source material.

Here are the track assignments:

The Great Big Mulp

Paranoid Android

Subterranean Homesick Alien
god hates math
Rube R. Nekker

Exit Music (For A Film)
two lights above the sea

Let Down
pyramid termite
The World Famous
curious nu

Karma Police

Fitter Happier
sleepy pete
flapjax at midnite


Climbing Up The Walls
Doleful Creature
Captain Najork
Johnny Wallflower

No Surprises
John Cohen
visual mechanic
the jam

Karlos the Jackal

The Tourist
Philosopher Dirtbike
posted by The World Famous (75 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

Dear The World Famous,

I want!

posted by xorry at 5:44 AM on July 3, 2012

Woo! Challenge is posted.
posted by cortex at 10:22 AM on July 3, 2012

3 days in and no challenge tracks posted yet. I suspect a lot of us (residing in the US at least) will be in our studios on July 4th
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:38 AM on July 3, 2012

I have so many ideas. Someone just keeps not recording them.

Like, I got to thinking about how much time you could chop off the clock by turning every single track into a shouty high-bpm punk thing. Cut out extra verses and choruses, get through each song in maybe a minute or so, just angry drums and obnoxious bass and thrashy guitar. You could do the whole schmear in fifteen minutes I bet.

I need to stop having ideas and start actually trying to put something down on tape.
posted by cortex at 11:43 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ideas is where I'm a Viking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:28 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

you know, that whole a viking thing came up the other day, and I was wondering if Ralph is actually saying "Sleep! That's where I'm a-viking". Viking as verb, in other words. I looked it up and apparently people have different opinions about the original word, so, there you go.

OK Computer: I am so excited about this. I feel like there's so much room for interpretation and different styles, but it's hard for me to imagine the vocal delivery as anyone other than Thom Yorke. So i'm really looking forward to this.
posted by dubold at 12:48 PM on July 3, 2012

Dear The World Famous,

I would like to participate.

posted by Lutoslawski at 3:59 PM on July 3, 2012

"You could do the whole schmear in fifteen minutes I bet."
posted by Cortex.

Do It! I freakin' love this idea, the antithesis of the album almost.
posted by marienbad at 4:47 PM on July 3, 2012

First up to bat will be Exit Music, but we have the whole album sketched out and planned. I'm looking forward to doing this with an album I LIKE. For once, I don't want to just crap it out in a day and a half. YAY!
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:44 PM on July 3, 2012

I currently have like four half-done versions of Electioneering, trying to decide which one I'll end up completing. Decisions, decisions....
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:32 PM on July 3, 2012

Yeah, I'm still having trouble coming up with a fresh take on Karma Police. I'm thinking maybe doing it in a different language.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:21 AM on July 4, 2012

I'm thinking maybe doing it in a different language.

I'm doing the same thing with Subterranean Homesick Alien. Google Translate seems to work pretty well with song lyrics. AND, since I don't speak Spanish very well, it will be hilarious.
posted by hanoixan at 8:15 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The tough part about this album is that it's one of those that's so highly regarded--in my book, I'd place it over Dark Side of the Moon, but just below Remain in Light--that you kind of have to either just do it absolutely faithfully, or find something really new to do with it. I'm really looking forward to this. Only spoilers I'll give away for what we have planned is that my assigned track will be kind of Bertolt Brecht/Jason Webley-ized, No Surprises may very well need a new title because it will be a lie, and 1 track of the lot will be a note-for-note cover. It's possible that recording and mixing the full album may take past the end of the month, though. Sadface.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:42 PM on July 4, 2012

I've still got the tragically-straight demo track I put together while I was learning the song. It's all loops under the vocals. I'll probably put some spit-polish and submit it, but I'm still lost for the less-straight version.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2012

Well the way things are going my 'Let Down' is either going to be incontrovertible proof of my genius or resulting in death or institutionalization.

I guess they aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by TheRedArmy at 4:07 PM on July 5, 2012

My voice records worse than I anticipated, and I anticipated pretty damn bad.
posted by Ardiril at 6:23 PM on July 5, 2012

Just a little inspiration for y'all: my current favorite Radiohead cover (not from Ok Computer).
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:55 AM on July 6, 2012

Ok, I think I'm going first: Karma Police
posted by modernserf at 6:18 PM on July 6, 2012

The timing on the main guitar riff is killing me.

ditch it - i did - it was right for them to do it, but it's not right for me to do it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2012

I tried to do a super downbeat acoustic version as sort of an Iron & Wine riff but it ended up more of a Lead Paint Chips & Pruno sort of thing that wasn't even interestingly bad.
posted by cortex at 9:39 PM on July 6, 2012

modernserf: Fellow KP'er here, I really like your take. All I've got so far is a rough sketch, but it's encouraging to hear someone's finished product.
posted by erikgrande at 12:04 AM on July 7, 2012

I'm pretty flubbing flabbergasted that I actually saw this through. Climbing up the Walls
posted by Elmore at 3:33 PM on July 7, 2012

I'm right there with you, TheRedArmy. The timing on the main guitar riff is killing me.

after I finished mine, i went back to check out the original. I remembered the guitar line, but not how it went, so it was left out... instead i ran my guitar through a mutilating max patch until it was mostly feedback. WWJGD, apart from "something with an ondes martenot"?

Let Down
posted by dubold at 12:50 AM on July 10, 2012

Subterranean Homesick Alien
(forgot we were supposed to post here after submitting)
posted by hanoixan at 1:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

WWJGD, apart from "something with an ondes martenot"?

posted by hanoixan at 1:06 PM on July 10, 2012

You laugh, hanoixan, but I was seriously considering buying an ondes martenot virtual instrument just the other day, mostly because I'd just watched an interview with Mr. Greenwood.

I am such a doofus.

*click to confirm purchase*
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:19 PM on July 10, 2012

Loving this challenge and seeing so many new songs appearing - only problem is that I see them while in work and have to wait until I get home to listen to them. It's great the amount of members participating in this, makes it really exciting. Fair play to The World Famous (and any others involved) for putting this together and making it known through MeTa.
posted by Elmore at 4:22 PM on July 10, 2012

Doleful Creature, I was laughing at WWJGD. An ondes mertenot is serious business!
posted by hanoixan at 6:01 AM on July 11, 2012

oh man, after I saw a video clip of him playing the ondes martenot I wanted one soooooooo badly. apparently there's now a controller available for modular synths that works kinda the same, but I keep telling myself it is a terrible idea for me to start a modular synth addiction....
posted by dubold at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2012

Is anyone interested in collaborating on Exit Music (For a Film)? I can only sing, but I can do a great job of it. I can help others if someone needs a vocalist, too. I can sing Thom Yorke pretty well, I think.

If no one wants to collaborate, I would also be interested in trading songs depending on what you have. Lemme know!
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:18 PM on July 12, 2012

I started work on mine yesterday. Given my relative lack of skill, experience, and talent, it's going to be slow going. I just wanted to thank those of you who've already posted your entries - you've all set a nice, high bar I can just kind of slide under.

Having a great time, though!
posted by owtytrof at 11:43 PM on July 12, 2012

Although I have tons of respect for "Creep", nothing else by Radiohead has moved me in any way. I totally get, though, why so many Radiohead fans also seem to like Dinosaur Jr.
posted by Ardiril at 12:08 AM on July 13, 2012

Just dropping by to say I adore this challenge. The Music page is my favorite place and this is a great month for it.
posted by idest at 4:55 AM on July 13, 2012

Last night I decided I was going to start work on Paranoid Android. So I got out my recording kit, loaded up the MP3 of the original into Reaper, and listened to it once through to get some inspiration.

This was the first time I'd heard the song through decent audio equipment (as opposed to through my PC's onboard sound), and I had it turned up nice and loud too. I had no idea just how much detail Radiohead managed to get in there. There's about two or three different rhythms going across each other in every part of the song, some very subtle interplay between vocal lines, a bunch of screaming in the outro that I hadn't even noticed because it blends so effortlessly with the guitar, and who knows what else.

Basically what I'm saying is that I got about four seconds into my own interpretation, got horribly depressed at my lack of musical skill, and gave up for the night. Going to need to either rethink my approach to this or simply glory in mediocrity, I reckon.
posted by ZsigE at 5:07 AM on July 13, 2012

Is anyone interested in collaborating on Exit Music

yep. check your MeMail.
posted by dubold at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2012

Basically what I'm saying is that I got about four seconds into my own interpretation, got horribly depressed at my lack of musical skill, and gave up for the night. Going to need to either rethink my approach to this or simply glory in mediocrity, I reckon

Speaking for myself, i don't want to hear a note-perfect replica of the radiohead version. It's the personal twist on these songs that makes them interesting, not the degree of technical perfection...
posted by dubold at 11:28 AM on July 13, 2012

I thought about that, but I'm trying to do a pretty acoustic instrumental version for Windigo's wedding and I figure they probably want that riff.
posted to MeFi Music by The World Famous

If it turns out at the end of the day that it just doesn't come together I will completely understand. The fact that anyone even tried to take me up on my wish is awesome.
posted by Windigo at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2012

I was just coming out of a mountain of busy at the beginning of the month and don't want to take a song on from scratch at this point, but if anyone would like some skronk for their work in progress or has hit a wall with mixing or anything I'd be pleased as punch to take on a mid-challenge collabo. Hit me up via MeMail.
posted by mintcake! at 7:08 AM on July 14, 2012

We have three tracks down--Exit Music, Lucky, and Let Down--just need to finalise the mix on them. Hopefully, I'll have Exit Music up this weekend, and others will follow in short order. I think next on the docket are Electioneering, Climbing Up the Walls, Karma Police/Fitter Happier, Subterranean Homesick Alien, and Paranoid Android, in that order. The remaining three are going to be the difficult ones, as they involve charting and arranging. Bluh.

There's a good chance this won't be finished within the month, but we're going to finish it, either way.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:29 AM on July 14, 2012

I'm probably not going to have time to get it done right until just about the end of the month. I hope that's in time.
posted by The World Famous at 9:06 PM

Heh, plenty plenty of time. Our wedding isn't til the fall.
posted by Windigo at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2012

oh dear. I was working on something else today and this happened.

I'm so sorry.

posted by dubold at 4:40 AM on July 15, 2012

If anyone here speaks French and felt like helping me out with a translation of Karma Police, that'd be rad.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2012

Hey all, I am enjoying the music challenge stuff you are all doing, thanks everyone, it is such a great mix of stuff, worth the 5 bucks easy.
posted by marienbad at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2012

Oh geez. Where did my whole weekend go? I guess at least I have something to show for it.
posted by onehalfjunco at 5:16 PM on July 15, 2012

These are all so good and the monthly challenges are a fantastic idea. I wish I had musical talent beyond just listening :-)
posted by Jacob G at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2012

This challenge is going really well, with loads of entries and loads of times still to go. So, what's next month's challenge?
posted by Elmore at 4:48 PM on July 17, 2012

Ok so I now have like five half-finished versions of my assignment (Electioneering), but not sure which one I should finish. All the excellent entries so far keep driving my stock down, making me want to spit and polish ever more. Keep it up, everyone!

I agree with Elmore this challenge is turning out really nicely and it makes me really giddy. askmeaboutLOOM, I wish we lived in the same town because I would totally be trying to figure out how to inveigle myself into your musical enclave, or something. Seriously, you guys rock!

As for next month's challenge, we may already have something lined up (can't remember) but one thing I think would be really fun: MajorDundee's suggestion of turning Nabokov's Lolita into a musical/rock opera or some other well-regarded novel.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:19 AM on July 18, 2012

Eh, anyone wants to take a road trip to Oklahoma City sometime, you're more than welcome to join us any time! Hell, we can probably even work out some kind of collaboration over email--that's what MajorDundee and I did a couple years back.

On a related note, our version of Electioneering will be up tonight. It's the stuff of nightmares. Also, Karma Police/Fitter Happier's recording process should finish/near completion tonight, and Subterranean Homesick Alien and Paranoid Android are on the docket for tomorrow's session. That will only leave the hard ones (made so by our own designs). Ugh.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:38 AM on July 18, 2012

If I had come to this thread first I wouldn't have been so scared when I listened to your track mate as I would have been forewarned ;)
posted by marienbad at 4:25 PM on July 19, 2012

I'm just now getting into this and already loving it so much. Thanks, music makers!
posted by iamkimiam at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2012

MajorDundee's suggestion of turning Nabokov's Lolita into a musical/rock opera or some other well-regarded novel.

Not my idea Doleful - unSane's. Good idea, but might work better with very clearly episodic novels or collections of short stories (I'm thinking Joyce's "Dubliners" for instance).

Another music challenge thought I had yesterday - I do occasionally get thoughts, but, hey, not that often - was to do a "Best Of" cover of a specific artist. Elvis Costello was what inspired the idea, but it could be any band/artist. Thing is - we'd just pick an "artist of the month" and let anyone cover any song by that artist/band they wanted to.
posted by MajorDundee at 1:38 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Almost done mine, hopefully will finish it before the weekend.
posted by dobie at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2012

posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:34 PM on July 24, 2012

Elvis Costello was what inspired the idea, but it could be any band/artist. Thing is - we'd just pick an "artist of the month" and let anyone cover any song by that artist/band they wanted to.

I suppose there's probably lots of reasons why the OK Computer challenge went off so well, but I think that A: covers work well because a lot of the legwork is already done... there's chords and lyrics already! and B: picking popular artists means it's more likely there's an emotional resonance for a lot of the participants. So I'm definitely in favor of picking an artist of the month. Obviously some artists have a much larger catalog than others... D. MacManus has numerous hits, of course....

anyway, i'm in favor. broadening the selection from album to artists means more options. it's a good call, methinks.
posted by dubold at 2:56 PM on July 25, 2012

I made it.

Can't wait to catch up on the new songs uploaded since my last post!

Had a great time, but I'm thinking full-on self-production isn't my strong suit.
posted by owtytrof at 6:24 PM on July 25, 2012

Karma Police is almost finished, Fitter Happier starts soon. We may have to think of a new plan for No Surprises--I don't think I can handle bluegrass-style vocals right now, or for the next...month, at least. I am disappoint. Hopefully, this weekend, I'll finally have a chance to finish writing the arrangement for Airbag, then all that'll really be left will be Climbing Up the Walls (waiting to see if my guest vocalist comes through), and The Tourist.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 8:16 PM on July 25, 2012

posted by dobie at 9:15 PM on July 25, 2012

Here's my cover of No Surprises.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:41 PM on July 29, 2012

Man, the more I listen to "Exit Music" and try to play it, the more I really dislike the song. Maybe I'll figure something out tomorrow that changes my mind on it, but at this point I can't help but hear "Hotel California" every time I listen to it. The chords at the beginning are totally the same, pretty much anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Finally got around to this!
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:24 PM on July 30, 2012

Just under the wire! The Tourist.
posted by qnarf at 7:15 AM on July 31, 2012

Punkanoid Blandroid. I regret not actually subtly renaming these Lofi Computer tracks; maybe I'll do so for a slight more cohesive full-album release if I get the whole thing done.

Of which: I recorded four more tracks yesterday morning, and have posted this and also yesterday Airbag, but it'll be a couple more days obviously before I can post the others (Exit Music, Let Down). Which gets me to seven of twelve from the album, so I feel like it'd be dumb not to finish it off, but now the months gone and I feel like my motivation is slipping a little bit. The arbitrary deadline giveth and it taketh away.
posted by cortex at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2012

An extra month would be dandy! As so often happens, life got in the way this month and the chances of me recording and mixing my track this evening is approximately zero!
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:54 PM on July 31, 2012

Insofar as it's even necessary to formally say it, consider the arbitrary deadline hereby arbitrarily extended. I'd much rather people get some creative fun stuff done than worry about beating the clock; I'm mostly just venting about my own weird headspace up there.
posted by cortex at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2012

The OK Computer Music Challenge is too big to fail, we must extend it another month.
posted by dobie at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2012

Cool, so apart from the extension, what's the challenge for August gonna be???
posted by Elmore at 4:12 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh. Extended. Extended indeed. Cool. Cool as in - extended such that had I only read this earlier I'd have realised I didn't need to panic tonight and record a thing in a big hurry after all. I see.

I see...

posted by motty at 7:55 PM on July 31, 2012

No worries motty if you have a bigger vision feel free to post the second iteration whenever!
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:17 PM on July 31, 2012

Aaaaaaaaaand, my version of the Tourist is done! Enjoy!
posted by cathodeheart at 10:20 PM on July 31, 2012

I'm so glad the deadline was extended! Now I should actually finish mine.
posted by bedhead at 11:23 AM on August 1, 2012

Along with extending the contest a month, would it be cool to expand the track selection to the album's B-sides? There aren't nearly enough cover versions of them out there:

Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)


A Reminder


Meeting in the Aisle


Palo Alto

How I Made My Millions

They're all great with no filler (I love the last three especially), and it could offer some extra creative opportunities to those who already scrambled to finish their July covers and have nothing to do till the end of August. They're also not quite as technically challenging for the most part, good for those intimidated by the main tracklist's walls of sound.

(And as to The World Famous's question, it would make a great hook for announcing the extension of the contest on MetaTalk!)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:07 PM on August 1, 2012

D'oh. Just saw the new MeTa thread. >_<
posted by Rhaomi at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2012

oh, thank God for the extension. We were about to completely throw in the towel on finishing the album at all--I know that's not the challenge, but as all here should know by now, that's how we roll. We may be able to finish the mix on the tracks currently awaiting final mix, and get the arrangements ready and possibly done by the end of August.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2012

Um ... can anybody do a strong Barry Gibb falsetto in the recorded key of Karma Police? I've got a bed all laid out, but some of it is a bit too low, where my falsetto is kind of airy, and hell if I'm going to re-record this.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:08 AM on August 15, 2012

Well, here's Lucky.
posted by dubold at 4:25 AM on August 31, 2012

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