tectactoe
User

Reviews 2
Approval 100%

Soundoffs 13
Album Ratings 474
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Last Active 07-02-19 12:20 pm
Joined 09-24-05

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 Lists
07.10.19 Top 100 Radiohead Tracks, Ranked by tec 01.29.18 Top 15 Films of 2017
06.30.17 Top 30 Movies of the 21st Century (So F 07.18.16 Top 25 Brand New Songs (Updated 5-Jun-2

Top 100 Radiohead Tracks, Ranked by tectactoe

I have done this a few times in the past with a compiled list and had the grandiose idea of writing entries of several paragraphs for each song, but that has proven to be an arduous task among my hectic life. So, inspired by the format of SowingSeason's recently unveiled "Brand New Songs" list, I will be readjusting my project and merely writing up a short(er), single paragraph capsule for each song. Much more doable, and I think more people would be apt to read a small blurb versus a novel for one hundred various songs. I will probably unveil five songs per day, maybe more but we'll see. If this is stupid let me know and I'll stop.
100Radiohead
In Rainbows


>> HOUSE OF CARDS

One of Radiohead's least cryptic songs, lyrically, and substantially more straightforward from a musical perspective, too. If nothing else, it proves that even a band as comparatively high-brow as Radiohead is capable of writing about deception and infidelity in the name of love. (Or lust?) Biggest complaint is that five-minutes is the wrong runtime for a song so mellow and settled-in; it lacks the variation necessary to sustain such a length, but I love the lounge-act feel and Thom's occasionally quivering voice. I do love the entire outro of the song, too; that repetition of, “Denial, denial,” with the soft overtone of, “Your ears should be burning,” elevates the song to another level. Thom’s final, fitting squeals at 4:36 slather icing on the cake.
99Radiohead
8 Outtakes From Amnesiac


>> CUTTOOTH

A song built on crescendos and a vibrant piano melody that doesn't sound particularly Radioheadesque (though at this point, what does Radiohead even "sound like" anyway?) but thrums with an unmistakable kineticism from start to finish. A song about the miserable acceptable of one's position and (lack of) purpose in this world and learning to merely blend in with our surroundings - "I will lead a wallpaper life" - that feels both coldly distant and intimately relatable. Haven't we all been in a similar place of such lethargy? Love the middle-section that sort of drones out into a muffled somnambulance as Thom chants, “Run until your lungs are sore, until you cannot feel it anymore,” once again capturing that spike of desperation in such an eloquent manner that, I think, is capable of speaking to all of us on some level. I can see why this was left off of AMNESIAC -- it simply wouldn't fit. But thankfully it saw the light of day eventually.
98Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> A PUNCHUP AT A WEDDING

Undoubtedly HAIL TO THE THIEF’s grooviest track, and arguable the grooviest track in Radiohead’s oeuvre (depending largely upon how exactly you define “groovy”); easy to thump along with, from the soupy opening bass riff to the staunch piano phrases. A very personal track for the band, as it serves somewhat as a rebuttal to a critical pan of an early-2000s hometown show where they performed their hearts out. (Given the location and that specific point in their timeline, the show obviously meant a lot to them.) Thom’s vocals adequately sear from a position of power: Such a toe-tapping, elegant way to tell your bullies to kindly fuck off.
97Radiohead
Pablo Honey


>> CREEP

What?! Creep!?! Already?!?!? This low?!?!?! *Sigh*, pitchforks down, please: Hear me out. Creep is a wonderful song. But to deny its acquired status - and I truly don’t mean this pejoratively - as the Radiohead song for non-Radiohead fans is simply naïve at this point. Q: “Hey, I like Creep, what other Radiohead songs would I like?” A: None, probably none. I’m being hyperbolic, of course, but diehard fans know what I’m getting at: Its alt-rock lionization has become something of a thorn in its side, despite the way it single-handedly turned Radiohead into a household name (which, I’m sure *they’ll* tell you, isn’t an inherently good thing). But all stigmas aside, it’s a great song for what it is - i.e., Early 90s British Alt-Rock - and it contains several of the seeds that would come to fruition much later in Radiohead’s career, most notably the themes of self-deprecation, inner-turmoil, and world-weary isolation. Definitely not a pick-me-up, but certainly a worthy track.
96Radiohead
8 Outtakes From Amnesiac


>> FOG

A song that, upon the initial release of the AMNESIAC B-sides (ca. 2009… I think?), I made the grave mistake of dismissing - alongside Trans-Atlantic Drawl, Fast-Track, and Kinetic - as much appreciated but ultimately unsustainable white noise. Not sure how Fog got lumped in that group, honestly, but I’m glad I came to my senses. And not only have I reassessed my wrongheaded dismissal, but I’m also a little shocked this didn’t make the final AMNESIAC tracklist. I think it’s extremely well-suited to the albums overall sensibilities, taking the muffled ambiance of Worrywort (another B-side I adore) and stripping away the loftiness, lending it a sharped edge but allowing it to maintain its Kafkaesque complexion. Love the build up of foggy (no pun intended) tumult as elements come trickling in: Stand-up bass, piercing synth, jangly tambourines, off-beat snare hits, strained guitar licks. It’s an ostensible cacophony, but repeated listens reveal the harmony, however unorthodox.
95Radiohead
Pablo Honey


>> PROVE YOURSELF

The single best embodiment of the sliver of Brit-pop sensibility that Radiohead once had, mixed with just enough of their punctual grunge and rawness to let it rise above the sinew. (Hell, with a few upgrades in sound quality, this would feel right at home on “The Bends”.) Shocked this never wound up a “Pablo Honey” single, honestly: It’s accessible, it’s an effortless listen, it’s catchy enough to appeal to casual radio listeners while maintaining a lowkey sordid bite, softening the blow somewhat for those too proud to admit they’ve been caught singing pop hits aloud. The instrumentation is undecorated and putatively “simple” compared to almost anything thereafter, but sometimes there’s a specific allure to simplicity that rejuvenates like a palate cleanser after several hours of listening to layered synth tracks and mathematically coerced time signatures. A step back in technique, but not necessary talent.
94Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> THE GLOAMING

There was a time when I hated this song with every fiber of my being. Absolutely loathed it, repulsed by it after my first spin of “Hail to the Thief” back in 2003. What the hell was this AMNESIAC-lite bullshit? How dare they preface a song as great as “There, There” with this aural abomination? Luckily, first impressions of Radiohead songs rarely end up being lasting ones, and since that initial listen I’ve completely about-faced on “The Gloaming”—it used to trip my gag reflex, but now I actively enjoy it. The reason I’ll never consider it a masterpiece, though, is that it still feels and sounds very interlude-y to me, like an overextended riff that, at its core, is only a small step above tracks like “Treefingers” and “Fitter Happier” w.r.t. purpose and construction. I’m also not sure HAIL TO THE THIEF was the correct album for “The Gloaming,” as I find my self listening to it out of context quite often. In that sense, however, I wish there were more of it.
93Radiohead
OK Computer


>> THE TOURIST

A slight departure from the rest of “OK Computer”—almost like the proportional inverse of “Electioneering” in that sense—re its dialed back, meditative, and melodramatic timbre. So here’s me, sheepishly admitting that this is my least favorite track from the album, “Fitter Happier” notwithstanding. That’s not to say I don’t like it, though; In fact, I think its thematic tie-in with the album’s opening track (“Airbag”) is brilliant, and by concluding with what seems more like a preamble, it gives “OK Computer” an untouchable sense of circularity: The album that never ends! Not only does it ricochet off of Thom’s candid fear of automobiles (see also: “Killer Cars” and “Stupid Car”), it works on a parabolic level, too: It’s about cars, sure, but it’s also about “slowing down” figuratively, taking the time to enjoy the things around you, stopping to breathe in every now and again. Its relevance has only grown since 1997.
92Radiohead
The King of Limbs


>> GIVE UP THE GHOST

If I had to sum up THE KING OF LIMBS to any unknowing person with a single song, it’d be this one. It’s not the album’s best by a stretch, but it’s the most representative, I think, of the overall deviation from Radiohead’s previous work. It functions kind of like “Kid A” on KID A—a succinct summation of what you can and should expect; an amalgam of cherrypicked elements from the rest of the album’s tracks. That said, it’s still a fickle little thing: It’s hypnotic, but not particularly “catchy,” and its initially buoyant appearance promises an eventual vigor that never gets delivered. But once you accept the fact that it’s not “that kind” of song, it becomes easier to relish in its ethereal vibes: The chirping wildlife, the mega-clean acoustics, the percussive taps on the body of the guitar, and Thom’s looped crooning. Subject matter is objectively bleak, yet its painted with a color that engenders beauty and solace. Haunting, eerie, and gorgeous.
91Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


>> GO SLOWLY

A favorite B-side among diehard fans, and I swear I like it, too! Though I’ve been mildly (mildly!) soured on it since hearing the “Live from the Basement” rendition, which is mind-blowingly good. So good, in fact, that it makes the IN RAINBOWS: DISC 2 version feel inadequate in more than a few ways. (And since I’m ranking based solely on album releases, well…) But don’t get it twisted: This song deserved a spot on the IN RAINBOWS track list. Not to perpetuate the bashing of “Faust Arp”—every Radiohead fan’s favorite pastime—but imagine “Go Slowly” dwindling down with Thom’s fading quavering alongside that acoustic guitar lick and suddenly BAM! You’re launched into the opening drum beat of “Reckoner.” (Sigh, what could have been and never will be.) It’s a celestial song that possesses a starry grace that sounds like a direct personification of how the IN RAINBOWS cover art looks. (It also heavily resembles “There There” poured through molasses.) Abstract greatness.
90Radiohead
Itch


>> KILLER CARS

This is the type of song I’d conjure up in my head if you theoretically asked me to toss two parts R.E.M., two parts Oasis, and one part Talking Heads into a blender and hit frappé. One of their more accessible tracks: It takes a lot of the rough edges of even the most user-friendly “Pablo Honey” / “The Bends” songs and smooths ‘em out a little. There’s simply nothing here I could identify as potentially off-putting, almost objectively so. (Unless early-90s alt/pop-rock just isn’t your thing then okay sure.) In that sense, it might be the “least-Radiohead” Radiohead song we currently have, but that simply showcases how wide their musical spectrum actually spans. Who’da thought they could do radio-friendl, jangle-pop / alt-rock hybrids so well? A nice inclusion into Thom’s motorphobia portfolio, and easily the most straightforward of the lot: “I’m going out for a little drive and it could be the last time you see me alive, there could be an idiot on the road.”
89Radiohead
OKNOTOK 1997-2017


>> MAN OF WAR

True story: Upon hearing this for the first time, my initial thought was that it sounded very “James Bond-y,” without the foreknowledge that the band shared this sentiment, nor realizing it preceded “Spectre” as Radiohead’s submission for the title track of the film with the same name. Not trying to claim stake to some groundbreaking discovery, merely pointing out the fact that the spy-thriller vibes are undeniable. Just bask in that opening, piercing synth phrase; it feels transcribed directly from the lost pages of “Diamonds are Forever.” Leering, deliberate moodiness is inherent to the espionage genre, and throwing the band’s overarching cynicism into the mix only emphasizes the macabre overtones. The spiritual lovechild of “Karma Police” and “Climbing Up the Walls,” yoked between the measured elegance of the former and the sinister emanation of the latter. Thom himself describe this track as “melodramatic,” but I’d consider it more like composed distress.
88Radiohead
Go to Sleep


>> I AM A WICKED CHILD

Starts off like a Rolling Stones b-side crosspollinated with something you’d hear in one of Quentin Tarantino’s non-Westerns. Whatever crazy hybridization I come up with, the important takeaway is: I really dig this track. I used to think it needed to “go somewhere,” either louder or heavier, or that it needed a more recognizable hook, but I’ve since rectified my misjudgments (per usual) and now adore the song’s bare-faced structure i.e., the attribute that makes it instantly accessible along with the crisp tonal clarity. It’s a blues song, plain and simple, but it’s a *Radiohead* blues song. (It has a harmonica for Christ’s sake!) Perhaps this never made it onto HAIL TO THE THIEF because Thom found it too conventional, or lacking complexity. But gobsmacking your listeners with *this* directly after e.g. “Myxomatosis” or “The Gloaming” sounds exactly like the kind of aural vertical that Radiohead would endorse. But who knows.
87Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


>> 4 MINUTE WARNING

I hate to keep making direct comparisons to other bands/albums because it comes off somewhat reductive of Radiohead’s creative prowess, but I promise I never make these parallels with intent to deflate. That said, this has SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND written all over it, and I have to give it to my guys: They do “trippy mid-era Beatles” exceptionally well. (I wonder what Radiohead’s alter-ego group would be named?) Angelic waxing and fuzzy feedback directly transitions into a phrase of billowy bass, flanged guitar, and distance ooh-ing and aah-ing, all propped up against a percussive shell that rarely ventures beyond a clanking tambourine. (Sorry, Ringo.) A great juxtaposition between dark, nearly morbid lyrical subject matter and fragrant, upbeat music—a comingling that Radiohead has mastered time and time again. It’s a very pared-down track, but I can be a purist, too, and sometimes its better to omit elements than needlessly bungle them.
86Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


>> GLASS EYES

The first AMSP song we’ve encountered, but mega-fans don’t fret because [spoiler alert], it’s the only album in which every song appears on this list. So, by definition, yes, this is my “least favorite” AMSP track, but don’t think of it that way. Think of it as my 86th-favorite Radiohead track (a statement that’s more affirmative than it sounds, I assure you). Suffers just a *tad* from the same symptoms as “The Gloaming” i.e., it works well in the context of the album, but therein it serves as an extended interlude and, as a result, suffers a bit when evaluated as a standalone track. But AMSP would still feel incomplete without it, no doubt. It’s entirely orchestral as far as I can tell (and I often forget there’s absolutely no percussion involved), showcasing Jonny’s adeptness. (You swear he’d been writing movements since he emerged from the womb.) A great track, assuredly, and its bottom rung placement among A MOON SHAPED POOL shouldn’t be viewed as a slight.
85Radiohead
Supercollider/The Butcher


>> SUPERCOLLIDER

At some point not long after its release, you’d have found “Supercollider” sitting comfortably among my Radiohead Top 10. (Probably.) I listened to it daily, oftentimes back-to-back in rapid succession; not sure if I was genuinely infatuated with it, or merely thirsting for something “different” to assuage my initially tepid feelings on THE KING OF LIMBS, but as you can see here, I’ve significantly cooled on it over the years. Moreover, I’ve come to the realization that it never needed to be seven minutes long. I’m imagining a truncated, four-minute version in my head that feels tighter, hitting the same highs while never threatening with tedium. Don’t get it twisted: It’s an absolutely great seven-minute track. But it could’ve been a four-minute masterwork. And I can see why it was left off TKOL: It doesn’t quite fit the albums two major timbres of [1] atmospheric sensory explosion or [2] strangely pared-down and reserved. (P.S. I love the faint piano at 4:10.)
84Radiohead
Pablo Honey


>> STOP WHISPERING

Whenever Radiohead diehards are discussing PABLO HONEY and which tracks they find salvageable, you tend to see “Creep,” “Blowout,” and “You,” with occasional spicy picks like “Lurgee” or “Vegetable.” I don’t think I’ve ever caught wind of any love for “Stop Whispering,” though, which makes me sad. I can vividly remember the first time heard it and, knowing it was from The Album That Must Not Be Named thought quizzically to myself: “This is… kinda good?” To my mind, it’s the most mature precursor of the “continuous build-up” song structure that Radiohead would whet and perfect on future records (think “Exit Music,” “Ful Stop,” “The National Anthem,” or “You and Whose Army”). And yes, those songs are all far better than this one, but the blueprints are right here! I make no apologies for loving the brushed snare, the clear guitar licks, and the way Thom strains during the final chorus on the track, shouting at the top of his lungs. A beautiful disaster.
83Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> WHERE I END AND YOU BEGIN

Relentless kineticism, a song that remains constantly in motion: Colin’s ripping bassline is the lifeblood that keeps everything moving and the anxiously rolling drum beat erects a frame upon which everything else is eerily draped. (There’s a single instance where the bass drops out at 2:39 and it emulates the feeling you’d get if your heart momentarily stopped beating: Its absence is truly felt, and its reentry is a relief.) Sufficiently tinted in darkness from a tonal perspective without devolving into purely sad-sack or doom-and-gloom territory, balanced nicely by the subtly uplifting undertones of the music’s dynamic nature. Kinda spacy, kinda creepy, but sand-blasted with vibrant edges and orbiting a rock-steady center of gravity: If there’s one thing you praise “Where I End and You Begin” for, let it be its equipoise. Lastly: This song has never felt four-and-a-half minutes long to me. One of those that comes and goes in seemingly half the time.
82Radiohead
The Bends


>> (NICE DREAM)

During my last (half-assed) iteration of this list over a year ago, “(Nice Dream)” didn’t make the cut, and now I’m wondering if it was a glaring oversight, or if I legitimately didn’t think it was one of Radiohead’s hundred-finest songs at the time. I’m guessing the former, because I can’t imagine the notion there are one hundred Radiohead songs *better* than this. A good example - among many others to come - of Radiohead’s ability to personify a song title or theme with the aura conjured up through the music itself. Saying “(Nice Dream)” sounds “dreamy” would be pat, but not entirely untrue. The eminent calmness and quietude washes over you with a trancelike grace while the lyricism is devilishly subverted, detailing that a life of happiness and security is nothing more than a farce. (Isn’t that what dreams are for, anyway?) Not the last time Radiohead would masterfully disguise bleak content with inversely effervescent melodies. (The violin in Verse #2 is love.)
81Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


>> DESERT ISLAND DISK

I think if you asked one hundred people to rank the tracks off AMSP, this’d be the cumulative last place choice. So why, you may ask, do I personally think it’s superior (even if infinitesimally so) to “Glass Eyes?” Short answer: It feels more definable and “complete” as a song; a strong standalone entity when removed from the context of the album. That response will surely leave some people unsatiated because, objectively, “Desert Island Disk” is one of AMSP’s least complex songs w.r.t. structure and depth of textures. But this is a case where much of my affinity stems from the lyrics, which are drastically under-appreciated. They rank among the most deeply affecting in Radiohead’s entire catalog, imo. In my estimation, they detail not just the heartache of a split with someone you once cared about, but the feeling of rejuvenation and new beginnings. They represent the idea that change for the better is always possible, even in an unlikely environment.
80Radiohead
OK Computer


>> SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK ALIEN

As high as place #48 on some past iteration of this list, its yet another song in which the excitement it used to bring me has simply waned with time. But my feelings aren’t so much extinguished as they are reformed: This is what I’d consider the Ol’ Reliable of “OK Computer,” the song that might not go-for-broke, but hums like a well-oiled machine and never makes a misstep. The opening, phased guitar riff is nearly iconic at this point, lending to the overarching superlunary vibes and it has always begged the question (from me, anyway): What *would* an alien from another planet think of Earth if they decided to land here one day? It’s a song of cultural introspection, a denouement on our uptightness as well as an ode of frustration and wanting to break free from the monotony of the world we’ve grown accustomed to. In that way, it’s almost a spiritual precursor to “No Surprises.”
79Radiohead
COM LAG (2plus2isfive)


>> PAPERBAG WRITER

Another track whose exclusion from HAIL TO THE THIEF proper has me salty even after all these years. And yeah sure, maybe it sounds slightly more AMNESIAC-ish, but there’s no way a song that thumps this hard doesn’t make the final cut. While Colin’s busy going H.A.M. on the bassline, the strained string sections instill a noir-esque temperament, the sample of random, clanking percussion just looping in the background, having a swell time. I suppose you could apply my previous nitpicks about “The Gloaming” and “Glass Eyes” here: This is *almost* more of a glorified bridge than a complete song, but honestly who cares at this point. The way Thom’s nasally voice omnipotently reverbs as he sings, “It was nice when it lasted but now it’s gone” is exactly the type of shit that gives me inexplicable chills. Honestly I’ve probably underrated this, but the list is finished and I promised myself no last-minute changes.
78Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


>> BANGERS + MASH

Stupid title - though a mighty fine dish, which makes for a fine pairing with bubble & squeak - but whew! This thing is an adrenaline shot straight to the heart à la Pulp Fiction’s overdosing sequence, wasting absolutely no time with foreplay and getting straight to a hardcore romp in the sack. Grungy, heavily distorted guitars seep through a cleverly layered dual drum track, Colin’s bass ensuring you “feel” the song instead of merely “hearing” it. It’s got the start-and-stop buoyancy of a Talking Heads tune, eclectic bass riffs like an early Red Hot Chili Peppers jam, and highly-modulated guitar phrases that hint at pre-2000 Incubus. Lots going on here, but it never gets messy or cacophonous, it just brims with the energy that was leftover from “Electioneering” and rides it until nothing but fumes are left. I always try my hardest not to embarrassingly sing alone to Thom’s shouts of “I got the poison!” but I usually fail miserably. Such is life.
77Radiohead
The King of Limbs


>> BLOOM

Another entry I’ll likely take heat for, but find solace in the fact that my previous revision of this list didn’t have “Bloom” *at all*, and that was even before the release of A MOON SHAPED POOL. It took me a while to warm up to it - longer than any other Radiohead track, maybe - but now I appreciate it for the modulated tone-setter it truly is: Could there possibly be a more befitting introduction for an album as oneiric as THE KING OF LIMBS? My previous distaste stemmed from the track’s lack of structure and droning qualities, but when you step back and look at TKOL, that’s kinda how *every* track is, and perhaps this warbled, cyclic intonation is the encompassing theme of the album. What once bored me now holds me mesmerized, captivated by sounds I barely recognize, and there might be no other Radiohead track that can hold me under a sustained trance quite like this one. “A giant turtle’s eyes / Jellyfish swim by.” Yes, indeed they do.
76Radiohead
Amnesiac


>> DOLLARS & CENTS

The eminent sleeper of AMNESIAC, a track that doesn’t garner much attention (on an album that often gets buried at the bottom of Radiohead’s canon, no less) but encompasses the milieu of that specific time and place in the band’s career so well. You know, that kind of longey, spaced-out, quasi-jazz-influenced brand of postmodern alt-rock. It’s actually a brilliant segue between KID A and AMNESIAC (despite the two albums being conceived at/around the same time), capturing the rhythmic, subdued, and slightly chilling pitch of the latter while lingering with just a dash of that electronic aura of the former, existing neatly in the Venn diagram overlap. (Plus, if “Man of War” didn’t exist, this should’ve been Radiohead’s next pick for James Bond theme music.) I’ve always thought of this as the twin brother of “Knives Out,” only with a darker and more incognito form. That jazzy breakdown at 2:25 is the bee’s knees, too: That ride cymbal, my word!
75Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> SAIL TO THE MOON

It’s rare we get to see the squishier, more sentimental side of Radiohead, and songs like this only make me yearn for more of it. An elegant soliloquy from Thom to his (at the time) baby boy, Noah. “Maybe you’ll be president but know right from wrong / Or in the flood you’ll build an ark and sail us to the moon.” There’s something patently arresting when an emotional clam opens up and spills his or her guts, and despite the track’s somber sounding body, the lyrics put a sobering spin of hopefulness on the entire thing. I hear Nick Mason on the drums and maybe a touch of Joe Perry on the guitar; a relaxing song, as it should be, and it serves as a fantastic come-down after the bangarang outro of “Sit Down, Stand Up” in the context of HAIL TO THE THIEF. I wasn’t a huge fan after my first-ever listen - many, many moons ago - but since that time, “Sail to the Moon” and its barebacked beauty has sunk its roots deep into my subconscious.
74Radiohead
In Rainbows


>> BODYSNATCHERS

This is like the “Electioneering” of IN RAINBOWS. I don’t mean that pejoratively at all, but it’s such a harsh step up in both pace and aggression from the rest of the album that even diehards are bound to initially wince (casuals don’t stand a chance). Especially being the predecessor to “Nude,” you might think you’re hearing songs from two different albums if you know any better. But in a way, I kind of *like* the jarring nature of “Bodysnatchers” and how it adds a wallop of variety to the front-half of the album without jamming the gears too much. (“Bodysnatchers” followed by “Nude” is the aural equivalent of rough, primal sex epilogued with a nice cuddle session afterwards.) And truthfully, it’s not *that* intense of a song, it just feels particularly elevated when the surrounding nine tracks are infinitely more mellowed out. But if Radiohead’s great at something, it’s disrupting any and all expectations: Here’s yet another example of that.
73Radiohead
The Bends


>> SULK

You hear that? That’s the collective groan of every Radiohead fan reading this list and learning the “Sulk” has ranked above the likes of “Bloom,” “Glass Eyes,” “The Tourist,” or [literally any other song that’s already been listed]. For some reason that’s completely eluded me from the day I started listening to this band, “Sulk” seems to be the single most-hated track Radiohead has ever produced. And I just don’t get it. (Shit, even Thom & Co. have publicly stated their disdain for it.) To my mind, it’s easily one of the most accessible songs from THE BENDS; catchy but not melodramatic, simple but not vacuous, tranquil but not timid. Just *thinking* about the way Thom belts out the final chorus - specifically the way he elevates his voice halfway through the word “soul” - is giving me full-body chills. It’s not as bold or daring or progressive or technically adept as almost anything thereafter, but so what? This is goddamn great mellow rock, haters can hate all they want.
72Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


>> LAST FLOWERS

I’ve always wondered if there’s legitimate science behind humankind’s interpretation of major keys (in music) bright and uplifting and minor keys as sullen and gloomy, or if it’s just a result of years and years of conditioning, something ingrained centuries ago when Bachs and Beethovens were running amok. In any case, Radiohead uses that dichotomy to create a track with two distinct moods. The verses, which make up the sulky, substantially darker parts of the song, follow a scheme of F-minor, G-minor, A-minor. Transitions to each miniature refrain, however, moves from that A-minor to a C-major and alas! The entire atmosphere of the song shifts from a downtrodden despondency to a bereft optimism. I must assume it’s no coincidence, then, that the word Thom’s crooning during this transience is “relief,” as if to underscore the brief lapse of darkness brought on by the major chord. Such is the variety of life; without the bad times, would we recognize the good ones?
71Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> WE SUCK YOUNG BLOOD

Everyone’s favorite Radiohead song to shit on since “Sulk,” and while that’s obviously not my scene, I can at least see why this wouldn’t be to someone’s taste. It’s slow, it’s creepy, it’s a little repetitive, it’s a tad long. Whereas a majority would use those adjectives slanderously, those are exactly the things I *like* about this track, forming a treacherous bridge between “Where I End” and “The Gloaming.” There’s a brooding to “We Suck Young Blood” that haunts my psyche, from the eerie and staunch piano to what might be the slowest cadence of hand claps to ever have been recorded in rock music. (The way they seem purposely mistimed - only very slightly - only adds to the mood.) Thom’s strained vocals are perfectly attuned to the ambiance, spewing rhetoric about the culture of models, used up while they’re young only to be replaced by newer, fresher, and more obedient slabs of meat. Haunting. That compositional breakdown at 2:57 is fucking riveting.
70Radiohead
OK Computer


>> ELECTIONEERING

The most chastised track from OK COMPUTER. People will tell you “it doesn’t belong” or “it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album,” sentiments with which I respectfully disagree. People tend to mistake variance for ill-fittedness, completely overlooking the purpose of the song from a larger perspective. OK COMPUTER needed this livewire jolt of energy: After six tracks of germinated alt-rock brilliance followed by the droning intermission of “Fitter Happier,” Thom and crew decide to kick us in the teeth, peppering our anuses in preparation for the more tonally skewed second (slightly-less-than) half of the album. It’s like you’ve just started to come down and the band jabs a needle in your arm and dip the plunger—“not so fucking fast.” The song’s most brilliant moment is around 1:04 as Thom begins wailing “when I go forwards, you go backwards.” If you listen, you’ll hear a staccato guitar lick that start high and work their way down. “And somewhere we will meet.”
69Radiohead
The Bends


>> STREET SPIRIT (FADE OUT)

Is my credibility gone yet? Great song, obviously, but I don’t think it’s one of Radiohead’s absolute best (nor do I think it’s even one the top three songs from THE BENDS). It’s one of the band’s more formulaic songs (and I don’t mean that negatively), starting with what might lay claim to their most identifiable opening guitar lick, arpeggiated and slightly phased. It’s the album’s finale, and perhaps the bleakest closer they’ve released have to date (and they have some bleak closers); somberness meshing with angst, depression, and anger, entrenched by an overarching feeling of solitude. It is a draining song, one that sucks you into its collective anguish, a black hole from which there is no escape. Even Thom himself has said, “Street Spirit has no resolve. It’s a dark tunnel without the light at the end.” Though maybe—just *maybe*—there’s an infinitesimal shimmer of hope in the final line: “Immerse your soul in love.” You can decide for yourself.
68Radiohead
Amnesiac


>> PACKT LIKE SARDINES IN A CRUSHD TIN BOX

The opening track of any album should serve as a sort of lubricant for what’s to come, setting the tone and establishing a baseline to which you can properly acclimate your senses. If “Packt Like Sardines” isn’t the most fitting prologue for AMNESIAC, then I don’t know what is. Incessant, tinny percussion and electronic drum patterns; rich and submerged synthesizer strokes; muffled, sublimely understated vocals, “After years of waiting, nothing came / And you realize you’re looking in the wrong place.” New waves of sounds and nearly unidentifiable instruments waft in and out; unseasoned ears might cite a case of aural diarrhea, but part of the charm is the cornucopia of sound that violently bustles through your head, and it’s really the best form of mental preparedness you could hope for with an album of such glamorous eccentricity. Schizophrenic and dissonant in the best ways possible: “I’m a reasonable man, get off my case.”
67Radiohead
The Daily Mail/Staircase


>> STAIRCASE

Clearly cut from the same cloth as THE KING OF LIMBS, “Staircase” is driven by atmosphere and texture, the coalescence of all the instruments to form an encompassing climate rather than one built piece by piece. (Even the more instrumentally delineated Radiohead tracks have layers upon layers, but the TKOL era is really where they started blurring the defining lines between those layers to create heaping, homogenous resonances.) Not a ton of excess modulation here, but enough variation between the minutiae to stave off tedium and keep things fresh without foregoing the elevated droning effect brought on by the perpetual background looping. Most interesting to me is the line at 2:23—is Thom singing “out of orbit,” or “I have always?” I can hear both, and apparently the closed captioning for TKOL: Live from the Basement reads the former. Part of me thinks it might be an intentional mondegreen, because what a great cliffhanger the latter imposes: “…and I always will.”
66Radiohead
8 Outtakes From Amnesiac


>> WORRYWORT

My wife would say, “Oh the one that sounds like a video game?” Poor thing. But that’s honestly not a wrongheaded observation; there’s something about the melodic throughline that sounds like it would fit snugly into an 8-bit arcade soundtrack. (Try to imagine if Pac-Man had an underwater level; some weird amalgam of Atari and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.) What I find truly fascinating is that over 90% of the “percussion” here is human beatboxing, giving the song a rhythmic structure while maintaining a tender degree of softness that’s simply not achievable with a modern drum set. “Worrywort” is a lozenge for your mind, a song that just kind of melts and seeps it way through the cracks in your right-brain, effortlessly and clandestinely. It also contains one the most tender and hopeful lines ever conceived by Thom? “There’s no use dwelling on, on what might have been / Just think of all the fun you could be having / It’s such a beautiful day.” Be still my heart.
65Radiohead
Pablo Honey


>> I CAN’T

Looking ahead, you’ll notice this is the last PABLO HONEY entry which mean: No “You,” no “Vegetable,” no “Lurgee” and [gasp!] that’s right, no “Blow Out.” Above all, it means that “I Can’t” is, to me, PABLO HONEY’s crowning achievement, and the apex of Radiohead’s pre-BENDS talent. And as defensible as I’m prepared to get, every time I listen to this song I wonder why I’d even have to be. Maybe Brit-and/or-early-90s alt/pop-rock is your kryptonite, in which case there’s no convincing you. But how can any open-minded person hear “I Can’t” and not immediately latch onto something? The approachability, the mellow groove, the fuzzy enamel, and my god—the simplest yet most instantly alluring hook/chorus they’ve ever assembled? If you can sincerely listen to this and somehow *not* sing-along with “Even though I might, even though I try / I can’t,” you should schedule an appointment with your cardiologist ASAP: There’s a dead, ossified clump of mass where your heart should be.
64Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool (Special Edition)


>> SPECTRE

In making this list, I was flipping and flopping entries up until the very last moment, after which I told myself it was “solidified” and, no matter what, couldn’t be changed again, lest I remain perpetually discontent with the order and forever incapable of publishing it. Truth is, though, the “fine tuning” never stops, and this year the Most Regretful Placement award goes to “Spectre.” It deserves a higher spot than sixty-four; even as I’m listening to it now, I’m balking at how I ever accepted a spot somewhere outside the Top Fifty even. But hey: You live, you learn, and you can bet this’ll climb on my next iteration of this god forsaken list. Radiohead was born to write this song, it bleeds with a stratosphere of sexy mystique and level-headed charisma, and it prevails even when removed from the context of “James Bond theme song.” It’s so goddamn sleek and polished, a dazzling mélange of A MOON SHAPED POOL’s orchestration and IN RAINBOWS’s aerial luster. Sublime.
63Radiohead
The Daily Mail/Staircase


>> THE DAILY MAIL

“The Daily Mail” is the supermodel who removes her makeup and is even prettier without it; significantly more stripped down than a majority of post-BENDS Radiohead songs, a feeling only exacerbated by its release following THE KING OF LIMBS. Piano. Vocals. Some light percussion. Brass instruments. Woodwinds. After such a largely synthetic release (and no, that’s not inherently a knock against TKOL), it was refreshing to see Radiohead take a step back and meddle in the fundamentals once again. Again with the comparisons, this is how I’d imagine a contemporary, late-era Beatles track might sound, somewhere halfway between THE WHITE ALBUM and LET IT BE. I swear I can even hear a bit of Ringo in there as the drums come bopping in. (When the whole band joins around 2:07, it sounds magnificently ABBEY ROAD-ish, and I fucking love it.) I’m upset this never made a full album cut for the fact that more people need to hear it, though I think it’s gained some steam recently.
62Radiohead
The King of Limbs


>> FERAL

Nope, that’s not a typo. You’re reading it correctly: “Feral.” I seem to have a strange fetishization for each album’s agreed upon black sheep, and “Feral” might be my most personally cherished of them all. Firstly: Let’s not lump this into the same category as “Treefingers” or “Fitter Happier” simply because it’s largely instrumental. This song is entirely different for the fact that it doesn’t serve as any kind of interlude for the album proper. If anything, it more closely shadows “Kid A” viz., an experimental noisescape that cherry-picks various elements from each track on the album to form a sort of small-scale, concentrated summation. Sure, you might not explicitly pick up hints of “Codex” or “Give Up the Ghost” from listening to “Feral,” but its function as an all-around sensory anthem for THE KING OF LIMBS is important and undeniable, and I’m convinced that “Feral” detractors have simply yet to blast the song on their car stereo until the doors are audibly shaking.
61Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


>> IDENTIKIT

When a song like “Identikit” ranks among the bottom-three tracks on an album, that should speak tremendous volumes about its greatness in total. (Spoiler alert: A MOON SHAPED POOL is fucking amazing. But you knew that already.) Making live, unnamed appearances as early as 2012, an outspoken group of people were disappointed with the recorded album version (myself *somewhat* included…only somewhat, though), saying it was, in comparison to the live renditions, too tame, too lax, too apathetic. But as the months (and, eventually, years) passed, I settled into its groove and came to appreciate its juxtaposed restraint. It borders on dawdling, right from the opening congregation of instruments haphazardly trying to form a timely melody, but, perhaps paradoxically, its languor is its greatest strength, slithering along without the orchestral ornamentation that decorates *most* of A MOON SHAPED POOL, and carves out a niche for itself anyway. Broken hearts, make it rain!
60Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


>> SIT DOWN. STAND UP.

Though HAIL TO THE THIEF is a heavily political and government-centric album, I’ve always pulled an allusion to Christianity from this song (or religion in general, I guess), with the title referring to the constant sitting, standing, and genuflection that symbolically recurs ad infinitum during a traditional Catholic mass. (Makes sense, too, that the “jaws of hell” are specifically namedropped.) In any case, the robotic droning of Thom’s voice pairs frighteningly well with the accompanying music’s sense of dramatic energy, bordering on operatic but maintaining a sense of anxiousness that could only be harvested from the band’s mild post-rock influences. Can’t exactly explain the “raindrops” x42 (or however many times Thom actually repeats it), but the kinetic explosion of surrounding noise during the final minute of the song is contagious under any interpretation, and a sharp conclusion to the doom-and-gloom elicited from the rest of the track.
59Radiohead
In Rainbows


>> ALL I NEED

Comes on strong with the lowkey indie vibes, calling to TRANSATLANTICISM (never thought I’d be making Death Cab for Cutie parallels with Radiohead, but here we are), blending warm and fuzzy tones with lyrics that scrape away the remaining sentimental marrow from whatever’s left of Thom’s ribcage. Rarely do the boys wear their emotions so patently on their sleeve, but with scarcity comes honesty, and the evocation of feeling second-best—like a bit-part in a massive play or unnoticed background scenery—is internally wrenching. (Is there anything worse than feeling worthless?) I hear a touch of trip-hop roots buried deep (deeeeep) beneath Phil’s drumbeat, married gently with Colin’s synthesized wall of bass; along with Thom’s vocal reverb, it’s akin to being trapped in a cave and having to listen to your own thoughts aloud. Partly beautiful, but also eminently haunting. Confession: I cry a little bit on the inside when the violin enters at 2:46, no shame.
58Radiohead
Amnesiac


>> KNIVES OUT

Literally, it’s about cannibalism. Metaphorically, it’s referring to the “social” cannibalism that consumes us daily, a vigil for our dog-eat-dog world transcribed through the context of Darwinism as applied to a socioeconomical framework. It captures the blind-eye mentality of corporate ladder-climbers, violently scaling their way to the top via others’ backs, refusing to look back at bodies left in their wake: “Don’t look down, just shove it in your mouth.” The music straddles the line between AMNESIAC’s jazzier elements and HAIL TO THE THIEF’s purely alt-rock tendencies with distinguished verve, tossing traditional song structure aside in lieu of a piece of work that eludes definition with “beginning,” “middle,” and “end” kind of blending into one, cognate mass. And of course, who can forget the blood, sweat, and tears poured into this track? Over one year in the making - a time in which entire albums have been written and recorded - all culminating toward this.
57Radiohead
The Bends


>> HIGH & DRY

I’m unsure if there’s still a huge backlash against “High & Dry” like there was a decade ago, but it’s a sentiment I must assume was born from the depths of smarmy elitists who, after learning secondhand of the syncopation in “Videotape,” vowed to forever turn their noses up at any piece of music lacking such buried complexity. (Either that, or purely obedient fans who caught wind of Thom’s ambivalence toward the song and mindlessly inherited this dogma, too.) My emotional side loves a heaping dollop of 90s-era pop-rock, though, and nobody does it quite like Radiohead. (And goddammit, they don’t/didn’t do it that often; all the more we need to cherish these tracks dearly.) If “Creep” hadn’t existed, I would bet an awful lot of money this’d be Radiohead’s trebuchet into the limelight—it’s got all the makings of Brit-pop stardom. It’s the kind of song that lays smoothly against your palette, tender, sweet, and pleasurable. The first Radiohead song I fell in love with.
56Radiohead
Supercollider/The Butcher


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55Radiohead
The King of Limbs


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54Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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53Radiohead
Just (For College)


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52Radiohead
Go to Sleep


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51Radiohead
Street Spirit (Fade Out)


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50Radiohead
Amnesiac


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49Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


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48Radiohead
OK Computer: Collector's Edition


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47Radiohead
Kid A


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46Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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45Radiohead
The Bends


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44Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool (Special Edition)


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43Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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42Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


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41Radiohead
Kid A


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40Radiohead
8 Outtakes From Amnesiac


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39Radiohead
The Best Of


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38Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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37Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


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36Radiohead
Kid A


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35Radiohead
In Rainbows


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34Radiohead
Amnesiac


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33Radiohead
OK Computer


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32Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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31Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


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30Radiohead
OK Computer


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29Radiohead
In Rainbows Disk 2


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28Radiohead
Kid A


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27Radiohead
Amnesiac


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26Radiohead
In Rainbows


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25Radiohead
OK Computer


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24Radiohead
Kid A


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23Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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22Radiohead
The King of Limbs


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21Radiohead
The Bends


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20Radiohead
Kid A


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19Radiohead
In Rainbows


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18Radiohead
Amnesiac


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17Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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16Radiohead
OK Computer


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15Radiohead
Kid A


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14Radiohead
The King of Limbs


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13Radiohead
In Rainbows


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12Radiohead
OK Computer


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11Radiohead
Kid A


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10Radiohead
Amnesiac


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9Radiohead
OK Computer


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8Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


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7Radiohead
Kid A


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6Radiohead
In Rainbows


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5Radiohead
OK Computer


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4Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


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3Radiohead
Amnesiac


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2Radiohead
In Rainbows


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1Radiohead
OK Computer


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