Radiohead’s OK Computer was one of the seminal albums of the ’90s, and certainly one of the best releases of 1997. Two decades down the line, the British band has released an eye-wateringly expensive anniversary edition priced at $130/£100 that includes three vinyls, a hardcover book and a C90 tape cassette. The cassette is bookended by blips and beeps that’d be familiar to those old enough to have owned an 8-bit ZX Spectrum computer in the ’80s, and some intrepid Redditors figured out there was a hidden message contained within those sounds.
This is what the program displays when you run it:
Being Radiohead, it’s no surprise (nor an alarm) that there’s a further Easter egg within the Easter egg. In the ZX Spectrum code there’s black text on a black background that reads: “congratulations….you’ve found the secret message syd lives hmmmm. We should get out more”.
Radiohead is no stranger to doing nifty things with tech. When it released its album In Rainbows ten years after OK Computer it famously let fans pay whatever they wanted for the digital download of the album, becoming the posterchildren for the pay-what-you-want model that many bands went on to experiment with.
Of course, it turned out that giving record labels the finger and going it alone is a whole lot easier when you’re a globally renowned act with obsessive fans than when you’re a garage band trying desperately to quit your day jobs, but even if In Rainbows didn’t upend the traditional music industry it got bands, labels and fans talking about alternative distribution models.