What can you say about Radiohead that is as original as they are? For as long as I can remember they’ve been heralded as one of the best bands of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. Some people aren’t super impressed by that, and I know everyone has their own opinions, but people who don’t enjoy them have wrong opinions. It’s just the way it is. Anyway, today we’re going to run through the band's best songs. Some of these might be expected, others not so much, but I tried to not only pick my top ten but also some of their most varied tracks. Hopefully I succeeded in both. Enjoy!
10. There There(The Boney King of Nowhere), Hail to the Thief
This album usually ends up on the bottom end of fans’ favorite albums, but while it’s not a masterstroke like some of the others, “Hail to the Thief” still has plenty of solid moments. One of these is first single “There There.” The multiple drums that encapsulate the song are important to the track, not only because of how cool they sound, but of how seamlessly they bring everything else full circle. Yorke’s voice, and the playing by the Greenwoods also make the song valuable and worth listening to. The tail end of the Top Ten Radiohead songs, “There There” starts us off at number ten.
9. True Love Waits, A Moon Shaped Pool
At number nine, we have what very well might be the saddest song created by Yorke and company thus far in their career. A long coveted B side that finally made it to an official album, “True Love Waits” is indeed a heartbreaker of a track. Finishing up a emotionally brutal and messy album, it lingers in your bones as Yorke recalls “I’m Not living, I’m just killing time.” The song can mean many things for many people, but the extent to which the band conveys general sadness with just a voice and a solemn piano layered background is testament to the energy of the group. It’s heartbreaking to think about, but the message is an overwhelming positive one, you just have to get through the pain of losing your true love, in whatever way you can.
8. Burn the Witch, A Moon Shaped Pool
Before the official drop of the album, this was our first taste. Somewhat immediate in it’s delivery, “Burn the Witch” stands as another solid reason why this band is so revered. The drumming by Selway, the murmurings of Yorke, and the various other things introduced by the Greenwood’s and O’Brien really help to start the record off on a good, solid foot. It’s thumpy and ethereal at the same time, and Yorke’s meandering vocals surrounded by both beats and strings only add to the undermining doom bubbling up from the surface of the mix.
7. Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi, In Rainbows
The drum sets the groove, sexy tone right away, but this song isn't sexy at all. Perhaps the feel and vibe of the song are, but the lyrics are pretty fucking sad and thought provoking. Thom Yorke is one of those singers who can make you feel anything he wants when he wants. The background vocals as the music picks up get to me everytime. These dudes know how to perfectly mix a song. " Everybody leaves if they get the chance," is a punch to the stomach that struggles with the realization that life isn't always going to be good, but somehow you have to keep going, keep trying to figure out the puzzle.
6. How to Disappear Completely, Kid A
The opening line "That there, that's not me," has always struck me as a pretty funny line, but the underlying tone of the song is anything but humorous. This person appears as though he's thrilled that no one notices him, but is that the case? He could potentially be faking it. Maybe the years of isolation have turned him into a person who loves not being recognized, or even acknowledged. Who could live this way though? That's why the song is so upsetting to me. In the end though, the instruments do as much for the overall dreadful, upsetting vibe as the lyrics do. It just seems like this person has no hold over his own life, and that might be the saddest thing of all. A haunting song that sees Radiohead at their most somber, and their best.
5. Paranoid Android, OK Computer
This could very easily be their best known song, and if you’ve been living under a rock for nearly twenty years, please do yourself a favor and seek out the animated video. I had of course heard of the band before, but this was when they knocked the wind out me. The craziness of the song and the places it goes, as well as the sheer genius of the musicianship set it apart from every other band out there at that moment, and for the most part, it still does. When the song takes a cray turn, you the listener are right there prepared to hold on for dear life, and for me, that's where the realness and amazing qualities of the song truly burst out.
4. Idioteque, Kid A
This song, but the whole album especially was the first time I think most people realized that not only could electronic music make it in the mainstream, but it could also be intelligent and thought provoking. Sure, people have always loved electronic music, but obviously Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers weren't selling out stadiums left and right, at least not in the States. This song also proved that as a band, Radiohead could do anything and pull it off. If “OK Computer” is the best album of the 1990's, then surely this album, which is better, and probably the best they've done, is the best album of the 2000's.
3. Nude, In Rainbows
One of the prettiest songs ever heard from the band, until of course you start to listen to the lyrics. That’s one of the many things Radiohead does as a band. The music, while often sublime, and even uplifting, is always able to get the listener to open their eyes to the whole truth surrounding any particular songs. “Nude” does this brilliantly. It’s a song that seems confident and strong, but the underlying gloom of the song makes it more palpable in terms of fear and desperation. Among all of that though, it still somehow manages to come across and a sultry and provocative song that is as much about anger and it is passion. When Yorke sings the words “You’ll go to hell for what You’re dirty mind is thinking,” you can sense the frustration and unhappiness surrounding whatever issue is happening in the narrative of the song.
2. Fake Plastic Trees, the Bends
Always a favorite of mine. Its tenderness and compassion always had a lasting effect on me. Everything for me changed though when I saw them at Lollapalooza. The end of the set was nearing, and the song started. Behind them however, very light, soft fireworks built up (We found out later the fireworks were from a Cubs game). As the song progressed, the explosions got more intense and by the time the big ending hit, we were singing, and marveling at the unprepared perfection of the situation. There's not a lot in the world that beats crying in a field, singing a song you've loved for years and being surrounded by 100,00 people who feel the same.
1. Pyramid Song, Amnesiac
Never have I been so captivated by a music video before, or since. It's calming, majestic and haunting. Everything the song ultimately is. It’s a rare thing for something in space and time to sync up so vividly and ambiently wonderful, but this song does so with ease. I mean, when you watch this clip, and you see the lone diver visiting subterranean worlds enveloped by liquid, you can’t take your eyes off it. But, let’s also mention this otherworldly track. When the album first came out, this song instantly struck a chord with me. For years upbeat was the name of the game for me, but this song did, and still does fill me with joy, and a sense of knowledge that human beings are capable of amazing things. The textural components work well with Selway’s casually precise drumming, and Yorke’s wandering, unsure voice provide even more depth to this new world. It’s eye catching, in every sort of way, and that’s why I love it.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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