8. THOM YORKE
By: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
Radiohead's odd and iconoclastic leader embodies chilly alienation; his haunted falsetto building on already lonely lyrics. Through the late 1990s, he positioned himself less rage-filled and more anomic than Kurt Cobain—much stranger, though. In his singularity was the spark of a star. As the years wore on, Yorke’s band became even more inventive with him at the helm, toying with elaborate song structures and unexpected electronics, while he proved himself a master storyteller with a huge heart that seemed to constantly break.
He used his platform to be more creative (collaborating with the likes of Flying Lotus, MF Doom, Björk and DJ Shadow), yet still held discontent for his influence. The vulnerability in his voice inspires a kind of trust, and he always seems to be hitting the exact cultural nerve. His brilliance lies in a paradox: His entire repertoire is about being an outcast, yet he's become the most relatable frontman in the world.
Bilal, soul singer, says:
"Thom is just a soulful cat. Radiohead has no boundaries in their music. You can tell that they really come with a soulful edge, not just completely rock. Especially that In Rainbows album... It really created a cold vibe. I remember putting it on and [it] making me feel a certain way, like the start of a movie kind of feeling. Amnesiac, the way they flipped the beats, there was a bit of everything in there—hip-hop, soul, jazz, definitely wild future, Squarepusher, all of that. The way Thom Yorke thinks outside of the box and his approach... I just think he's the fuckin' dude, top to bottom."