#30 – House of Cards


Artist – Radiohead
Album – In Rainbows
Year – 2007
Genre – Alternative/Art Rock

Hey everyone. So it looks like I have some ‘splainin to do. You all were probably like, “where did he go?” “Did the pressure get to him?” “Did he quit?” “WHERE’S MY NEW SONGS DAMMIT?” Well, I certainly haven’t quit. I’ve been quite sick for this past week and a half, and frankly I really didn’t feel like doing much of anything except trying to get better. Luckily, it’s finally past, and yes I know I haven’t kept up on my new song a week policy recently, so we’re going to try and start fresh from here on. I’ll do my best. Without further ado, here’s a great track from one of the most influential bands in my life, Radiohead.

The song begins with some very clean and jazzy chords that are repeated from the beginning to the end. A simple drum beat covers the background, while you hear these airy, haunting howls from singer Thom Yorke. Then the vocals come in, and they are simply the highlight of the song. There’s this whole echoing effect placed on them from start to finish, and you feel them reverberate off imaginary walls. Yorke has always had such a distinctive voice, and in this song he croons every word so that the tone becomes almost sultry. He certainly is in top form vocally for this track, and the way he sings the whole chorus is beautiful. Speaking of the chorus, when you get to it, you’ll here these eerie wavering strings that really give a sense of literal instability to House of Cards.

During the next verse, there’s all these little nuances and echoing sounds added in the background layer, and during the chorus, it gives this swelling of sound that backs up Yorke’s vocals. As for the rest of instrumentation in the song, it really stays pretty constant, but it’s interwoven so well and blended so masterfully that anything more would seem unnecessary. Everything flows in and out of each other seamlessly, and it does this until the end of the song. The little guitar nuances and background sounds are what make this song so unnerving, as do the lyrics.

The lyrics here are extremely well written. Yorke makes his point simple, but also makes it known artistically and beautifully. The song refers to a man is in an affair with a married woman, but the whole situation is unstable, like a house of cards. He doesn’t really care, though, as nothing will get in his way of what he wants or what he thinks she wants. If interpreted more broadly, the song could easily be applied to most relationships, as each day is a delicate balancing act of emotions and the whole thing could come crashing down at any moment. It’s quite a scary sentiment, but one that Yorke and company portray though beautiful words and music.

House of Cards, despite it’s subject, is actually an extremely relaxing song. Anyone who can appreciate great instrumentation and construction will not only love this song, but Radiohead in general. But this is one of the best starting points for anyone who wants to jump into one of the most influential bands of the past two decades. It’s a piece of art that puts the heart to rest and unsettles you at the same time, and it definitely is a must listen.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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