Music school class on alternative rock band already full
From "OK Computer" to "Kid A," the band has garnered a large following of fans from every corner of the world and certainly shows no signs of stopping. And now for the first time, USC students can chart Radiohead's musical journey from beginning to end, as the music department has introduced its brand new course, which will focus strictly on Radiohead's impact on the music world.
The class, MUSC 113, will begin this spring and meet on Tuesday nights from 5 to 7:45 p.m. Greg Stuart, a visiting assistant professor in the School of Music, will be leading the class. Stuart said the meetings will be designed like two back-to-back classes with a break in between. Lectures, discussions and readings will be key elements of the course, but he also plans to bring in several other types of media such as recordings, documentaries and music videos to enhance the course. The course will focus on examining all of Radiohead's music through the years and exploring its methods and messages.
But with an endless variety of bands and decades of music to choose from, why teach a class on Radiohead?
Stuart, who has also taught courses in hip-hop and the works of Bob Dylan, said he has many reasons for picking the alternative giants.
"Although I actually do really like Radiohead's music, I didn't pick them because I'm a super fan or because I've been to all their shows," Stuart said. "I chose them because they've been around for a while, and they've always had a real depth to their material. But more importantly, you can see a metamorphosis in their work that poses interesting questions about the relationship between artists and the music business or the audience."
The course, which Stuart developed with USC's School of Music, was largely overshadowed when news broke about the sociology department's new Lady Gaga class earlier this semester. That, however, did not keep interest in the class from spreading, and with only a 30-person limit, it filled up quickly when class registration began. Stuart said he only hopes that those who signed up don't expect the weekly meetings to be simply a "cheerleader" course.
"This is not a course just for being a fan or talking about how awesome Thom Yorke is. It's designed to look at how the group functions as a model of music," Stuart said. "The biggest problem is running into students who think it's all about lobbing praise at the band, when it's really about looking at the material with a critical eye to see what's really going on here."
Stuart said if the course is successful in the spring, he will most likely bring it back again for another semester, perhaps even changing the course topic to another band.
"The way we designed the course allows for us to propose different topics rather than simply using Radiohead every single time. We could do a course on popular forms of electronic music or anything that is interesting or contemporary," Stuart said.