We’re not exactly music experts around here, but we know when we love something. Likewise, Ricky Gervais knows when he likes an album, and as he certainly has more expertise in the area than we do — he was once a fledgling pop star himself — we’ll take his word for it.
Ricky Gervais is a fine comedic mind, but music has always been his first love. Before finding fame later in life with The Office, Gervais had tried to forge a pop career and even briefly managed Suede. Not coincidentally, they became successful after they stopped using his services.
If it were down to Gervais, he’d have become the air to David Bowie’s throne rather than becoming a professional clown. Even though his life has turned out considerably different from what he envisaged when he formed the new-wave duo Seona Dancing in 1982, that love of music that made him start the group is still burning inside him today.
“My first mistake back then was wanting to be a pop star,” Gervais reflected in 2016. “I should have wanted to be a musician. That taught me a lot because in later life I didn’t want to be a celebrity, I wanted to be a writer/director. People only know I was in a band because I’m famous for something else now, and the video pops up on Graham Norton and we laugh at how thin I was”.
Thankfully, Gervais learned invaluable life lessons from his short-lived musical career, which helped him immeasurably when he began making The Office. He believes in creating art in a world obsessed with content, and his all-time favourite album is proof of his philosophy.
Speaking to the now-defunct magazine, Zoo, Gervais placed The Bends by Radiohead as his favourite record of all time. “I’ve listened to this album so much that I’ve had to replace it three times. ‘Bones’, especially, brings a tear to my eye every time,” he revealed.
It’s an album that Gervais has discussed at length more than once. After the success of The Office, he and co-creator Stephen Merchant were asked the same question by The Guardian. “My own criteria was that they had to be ones that I still play regularly,” he explained. “So here is Radiohead’s The Bends. For an album that’s only five years old, it’s already in the best albums of all time, and this is a collection of 12 of the best songs I’ve ever heard. It’s got taste, effort, poetry… Everyone’s a winner”.
Almost two decades after he first said The Bends was his favourite record of all time, Gervais confirmed nothing had changed. In a 2019 post on Twitter, the After Life creator told his followers it was the album he’s listened to most, with Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Fire Cat trailing behind in second place.
Listen to Gervais’ favourite track from The Bends below.