Last week brought about one of the more peculiar, but interesting pairings I have heard in terms of artist sampling. 12 year old Willow Smith (famous for her 2010 single “Whip My Hair” and also for being the daughter of the GREATEST actor alive, Will Smith) dropped her new single which samples Radiohead’s bleak but beautiful tune “Codex”, from their King of Limbs album. That’s right; Willow shocked everyone, from her tween fans to Radiohead geeks far and wide, with her song, “Sugar and Spice”. The kicker is, it is actually not a bad song! Musically, it is just “Codex” in its entirety. Lyrically, it’s a surprisingly long and very emotional song written by a 12 year old. Willow went from having one of the biggest pop singles in the world, drawing in a fan base of millions of tweens by being bouncy, loud, and hilarious, to dropping a melancholic introspective of an emotionally wrecked teenager set to the music of a band unknown to most kids her age. This is not only an incredibly ballsy move, but at its core value, a brilliant song for a young girl to put together.
Despite what the trolls of YouTube may say, this is not a “travesty” or a “misuse of Radiohead”; rather a young girl who was inspired by a great band and released a raw and poignant song about her struggles. You may not agree with this statement, but if more people in the music industry took chances like Willow has, the industry might be worth a bit more of a damn these days. But I digress; I was inspired to listen to many other Radiohead samples this week, in search of what makes these samples more socially acceptable than Willow’s. The answer? Nothing, really. It’s merely the fact that she is only 12, which apparently makes her inexperienced and unqualified to turn an existing song into her own original piece of art, which everyone else is doing these days. I could talk about this forever, but I will just list what I have been listening to lately … a bunch of songs that sample Radiohead, including Willow’s.