Yesterday, Radiohead launched yet another experiment in populist pop. To mark the release of “Reckoner”—In Rainbows’ best moment—the British quintet made each of the song’s constituent parts, its “stems,” available for download on iTunes and Garageband. Now anyone with a computer, a little creativity, and $.99, can create their own “Reckoner.” “Sample, cut, take the sounds, whatever. Play it in a club. Or your room… Have fun,” the band wrote on their blog, Dead Air Space.
The idea, then, is for users to upload their finished remixes here, where the masses can vote for their favorite “Reckoner.” You don’t win anything for first or second prize—except for the undying respect for your peers, of course.
Radiohead isn’t the only band nobly sacrificing their msuic’s integrity for their fans’ enjoyment. Besides making decent records, Nine Inch Nails’ surprising comeback over the last couple of years has been due to the buzz surrounding Trent Reznor’s fan-ready remix projects. And back in 2003, the Glaswegian band Mogwai made the tracks to the opening song off Happy Songs for Happy People available for individual download with the purchase of the album.
Thom and Co. fist pulled off the remix trick with the release of the “Nude” single in April. The results were largely fantastic, with everybody and their mother getting involved. According to the band’s own calculations, 2,252 remixes were submitted, they were played 1,745,304 times, and 461,090 people voted for their favorites. Spor’s gloomy remix won with 385,568 votes.
Already, 130 new versions of “Reckoner” have been submitted for our listening pleasure, and the majority of the ones we’ve heard are certainly worth their bandwidth. (Of course, it’s hard to ruin a song as simple, and as elegant as “Reckoner.”) No matter how much they muck with the song’s overall structure, the strongest tracks honor Radiohead’s biggest asset—Thom Yorke’s singular pipes—particularly during the glorious harmonies during “Reckoner”’s bridge. The top ten include remixes by some big names, including DJ Diplo, Flying Lotus, and London electronica-mastermind James Holden. Though the real point of this whole exercise is to see what everyone else can do with a song from the biggest band in the world. The answer, as with “Nude,” is a hell of a lot. Just listen to Brooklyn’s Juliana Barwick (holding steady at no. 5 with 498 votes), whose own ethereal vocals only heighten the song’s ambient beauty, or Post-Foetus’ glitch-tronica. Hit “Random” and find more.