Hilary Pollack is an editor, writer, and content strategist based in Los Angeles, CA.
I've made a career of identifying, creating, and shaping stories that will resonate with young, smart, media-savvy audiences, with a hands-on approach from pitch to publish, including copywriting, launching verticals and franchises, and building visual branding.💋
Being popular and being cool aren’t the same thing; just look at Facebook, or Imagine Dragons. Non-oenophiles have little patience to read yet another story about this vineyard’s soil composition and that imported grape, about a vintage they’ll never be able to afford or a new line of rose being marketed toward [name your demographic]. Writing about wine in a way that doesn’t make even a food editor’s eyes glaze over can be… difficult.
While the rest of food and beverage writing has rapidly modernized over the past few decades—surely due to increased representation from writers and chefs of more races, ages, gender representations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and subcultural underpinnings than ever before—wine has remained left in the dust. Restaurants have raised their ceilings, dropped their dress codes, and moved away from the “French = fancy” model, but the vast majority of wineries have stuck with their stone lion statues and gaudy floral arrangements.
The house I grew up in never had a comfortable couch for watching TV. There was inexplicably a TV in the kitchen, pointed at the kitchen table for maximum disturbance of family meals (or, more specifically, so that my dad could chain-smoke while watching Law & Order), but none in the living room. Upstairs, there was a horrible, squeaky, unyielding leather Chesterfield sofa in the office that felt like it was four feet away from the ancient big screen TV, and somehow, that was the next best place to watch TV after the kitchen table. I’d go to friends’ houses who had sectional sofas and be floored by the degree of luxury of living in a domicile that was actually accommodating toward, say, watching a movie while in a reclined position. I spent half of middle school over at a girl named Courtney’s house primarily because she had a very large sectional sofa, and also a Basset hound puppy and her mom was on pills so she was always in a good mood and made us virgin piña coladas and let Courtney hang a hammock chair from the ceiling in her bedroom—definitely mom-from-Mean Girls vibes. Her sectional was corduroy and U-shaped and sprawling and heavenly. I always swore that when I was a grown-up with my own money and my own home, I’d get a sectional.
While OK Computer was dystopian and glitchy, it was still distinctly rock; Kid A bore no resemblance to anything that could possibly end up on TRL. A mashup of melodic experimental rock, electronica, and alien jazz, it felt like a piece of space debris that had fallen from the sky, tangible but unrecognizable. From the opening notes of "Everything in Its Right Place"—a downcast synth melody that sounded like booting up a strange old device, or the THX sound effect made into a creepy yet calming hymn—it plays more like a succession of sonic feeling-states than a neatly wrapped package of songs. The eclectic influence of Aphex Twin, Alice Coltrane, and early computer music, as well as Jonny Greenwood's affinity for unconventional combinations of instruments and electronic effects, enjoy free rein throughout. The album artwork depicts an icy, sinister, vaguely CGI-looking mountainscape, a place as cold and untouchable as Britney Spears' navel was tantalizing. In summary, Kid A was the opposite of everything in music that was making money at the time.
Yet Kid A is a captivating listen, one with an incredible range of emotion and surprises around every turn. It has gleaming, ambient interludes, such as the title track, which obscures its hushed, terrifying lyrics ("We've got heads on sticks / You've got ventriloquists / Standing in the shadows at the end of my bed") in twinkling keys and distant pulsing. That otherworldly peacefulness is impaled by jarring moments like "The National Anthem," in which the album dissolves into a state of raw funk entropy and a din of horns assaults listeners to the point of near-insanity. You can sink into the dissociative lullaby of "How to Disappear Completely" and bliss out to "Treefingers," another understated intermission of quiet minimalism. But any time you get too comfortable, too relieved, something ominous seems to lurk around the corner—be it the frenetic, modular beat of cult favorite "Idioteque," or the off-kilter nursery rhyme "Morning Bell," in which Yorke croons "Cut the kids in half" over and over. Kid A offers exactly one song appropriate for mainstream airplay ("Optimistic"), and it all closes with an untitled aural starburst that, in retrospect, sounds suspiciously like the not-yet-written Wii menu music.