Unlike Radiohead albums, it’s not really fair for me to rank band-inspired tattoos from worst to best. At the end of the day, that’s someone’s art and another person’s flesh that I’m critiquing, and this isn’t the right platform for it. Who am I to declare this misspelled Hail To The Thief chest piece…
…worse than this Kid A chest piece?
It brings to mind comedian Joe Mande’s joke “Doesn’t Represent Anything.” Mande tells the story of the time he spotted the worst (or was it the best?) tattoo that he’s ever seen, and it just so happened to be … a Radiohead tattoo. Specifically, the words “Paranoid Android” permanently etched into a mustached man’s forearm in braille. In Mande’s opinion, it was an almost painfully stupid thing to look at once you knew what it represented.
The same might be said of this, um, creative King Of Limbs meets OK Computer tattoo.
It may be a well-executed illustration of its wearer’s vision, but why the hell would someone combine two disparate cover-art images into a massive bicep piece? It’s impossible to objectively define what makes a tattoo good or bad, but it’s easy to acknowledge what makes it memorable.
It is often said that replicating a human face to look realistic is one of the greatest challenges presented to a tattoo artist. It’s hard enough to render an accurate portrait on paper or canvas, but doing so on flesh is nearly impossible. So, when you’re looking to devote a piece of yourself to Thom Yorke’s face, it’s smart to embellish it somehow, make it memorable. This isn’t a portrait of your nana we’re talking about; this is the frontman of Radiohead. There are many Radiohead devotees who have committed impressive amounts of skin to cover art imagery and lyrics…
…but nothing demonstrates devotion better than a fan’s willingness to embrace Thom Yorke’s face as their own. Check out the five most inimitably great tattoo portraits of Yorke in the gallery up top.
Check out more from Radiohead Week on Stereogum here.