Top 10 radiohead songs

#10 – 2 + 2 = 5 (Hail To The Thief)
This is the opening track to the band’s most recent, and indeed very strong album. It is a more rocking number which we have not been used to from Radiohead as of late, and so to open the new album with a song such as 2 + 2 = 5 catches the listener off guard, making the song seem all the better. Especially since at the start, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to rock that much at all. You get a bouncy, processed drumbeat and an oppressive but quiet guitar riff that rolls along with Yorke’s innocent voice at first. About halfway through the song suddenly bursts out of its shell, turning into a real rock monster of epic proportions. The drums pound into gear, the guitars become wild and distorted and wailing, and there is soloing all over the place as Yorke screams ”You have not been paying attention!” angrily. This song releases the tension perfectly and is a Radiohead classic already in my books.

#9 – Idioteque (Kid A)
Kid A is a great album, and that’s what it was good as, and album, a collection of songs. None of the songs could really be taken out and spoken of as “standout”. That is, except for this cheeky little dance number. When I say dance I mean dance, it has a dense backing thud that resonates throughout the whole song, and an upbeat, bouncing feel to it. But it is still Radiohead, thanks to Thom’s whining vocals, and they can pull off a dance tune just about as well as they can pull off any other type of song. There are of course stuttering processed drums and lots of atmospheric noises and bleeps and blips throughout this one, otherwise it wouldn’t be a dance tune! Seeing this one performed live is an experience, they turn it into an epic, and a lot more fun than it sounds when played in your home. Another signature tune of the band.

#8 – Knives Out (Amnesiac)
Taken from an exceedingly weird album, this one is an exceedingly normal sounding tune. Two guitars intertwine excellently in the forefront, creating a spooky, frightening riff and driving the song along at a pretty fast pace. Someone once said to me that this one is simply No Surprises from OK Computer played faster. I’m not sure I saw where he was coming from, but this one is certainly one of Radiohead’s finer and more disturbing tunes. Compared to the rest of Amnesiac, which is full of electronica, it’s a joy to hear the guitars. The two of them churn away, dominating the song, weaving a beautiful tune, and a couple of really neat instrumental parts. Yorke’s vocals add the perfect finishing touch to the intimidating, scary feel of this one.

#7 – The Tourist (OK Computer)
The closer on the album of the decade, this is the perfect easy-listening song, and one of the most beautiful and relaxing songs I know of. The guitar melody is heavenly, the vocals are pure, clean and innocent, the harmonies are even better, and the slow, sluggish pace of the track compliments all this and brings it together perfectly. Yorke owns the chorus of this one, sounding more anguished than ever as he stretches out words further than the limitations of most normal human beings. A big distorted solo almost begins early in the song, but holds off until later when it bursts out, not spoiling the calm, melancholy mood one bit. It all ends with the ting of a bell or something, very abruptly yet satisfyingly.

#6 – There There (Hail To The Thief)
The reason this one is placed so high is because it is one of those songs that just gets better and better with every single listen, it creeps underneath your skin and never crawls out. It is a dense and dark, but sleek and sexy tune. Oddly popping drums play a great beat, and some dominant groovy bass underlines the presence that this song has in the opening stages. Of course Yorke’s wail backs this up perfectly. Gradually the guitars work their way into the song, and at the end all the built up energy is released in a huge fiery ball of distortion and soloing as all instruments go into overdrive, and Yorke repeats ”We are accidents waiting to happen”. This one builds up and releases tension brilliantly, all throughout the song I particularly love the unexpected little bursts of drumming that eventually culminate in some steady thumping when everything goes crazy at the end. This one also featured the uber-cool video in the forest, one of the videos of the year 2003 in my estimation. The atmosphere of the song was captured perfectly in this excellent and slightly disturbing video.

#5 – Just (The Bends)
This is what you’ll get with this song. You will get some tremendous, inspired guitar work from Johnny Greenwood. Solos, tremolo picking, the lot. You will get a steady, harsh yet tuneful straight rock song. You will get a simple, refreshing, vibrant acoustic guitar that begins the song and plays all the way through it. You will hear a lot of heavy distortion, a lot of screeching and yelling from Thom Yorke, and some feedback. There will be some beautiful melodic guitar in the lead-up to the chorus, and some driving, forceful guitar when you finally reach it. You will get a quiet, almost acoustic break. You may hear a couple of absolutely ripping solos and an inspired, complex riff to close the song out. Basically what you’re getting is the finest noisy rock song Radiohead have ever done.

#4 – Karma Police (OK Computer)
A legendary Radiohead track, both when played live and generally in the eyes of nearly every fan of the band. This track is sinister to the max, with an evil, lurching piano line driving it along. The verses are reluctant, held back and you know there must be something big about to happen after them. There are short quiet spells where Yorke songs ”This is what you’ll get when you mess with us”, with soft piano, and the gentle squeaking of guitar chords being changed barely audible in the background. The crescendo is complete when the song goes into a more positive, chirpy mode of sorts, with the line ”Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself” carrying everything along. The piano steps up a gear, and Yorke lets loose. It just begs to be sung along to, the perfect ending to the song, and it all breaks down with a big ripping, fuzzy sound.

#3 – Paranoid Android (OK Computer)
This song has to be up here, as it showcases all the talent of this band. I have described it a couple of times before, so I’ll be brief. You get the start, the clicking, upbeat, punchy section with spooky atmospheric breaks where Yorke stretches out words again. Then two massive ripping guitar solo sections sandwich a beautiful vocal harmony part. This song relaxes, then attacks, then relaxes then attacks. It is tremendous, a six and a half minute epic, and worth every second of it

#2 – Pyramid Song (Amnesiac)
A stuttering, out of time masterpiece. That sums up this exquisite and beautiful piece of music. Pyramid Song is the immediate standout track on Amnesiac, starting off with a simple piano line and Yorke’s anguished vocals. The song soon builds up, spurred on by some hazy background noises, giving the impression of being underwater. Everything is so out of synch on this one that it all seems to fit perfectly, especially when the drums patter in, playing their own rhythm and fantastically unexpected and unpredictable fills. When the strings are added, swelling up in the background, you can just close your eyes and drift away, letting this gorgeous musical experience possess you. Pyramid Song is a work of art, no less than that.

#1 – Street Spirit (Fade Out) (The Bends)
And here we have it, the finest Radiohead song ever in this reviewer’s humble opinion. Surprised? You really shouldn’t be. This is a wonderful, refreshing, depressing, melancholy, intimidating, oppressive and brilliant tune. Any number of adjectives still could not describe it. It closes The Bends, and so could easily be shaken off and ignored by many. But how can you ignore that tremendous, melodic guitar riff that runs through the entire thing? How can you say you don’t love the dragging, lingering chorus that is extremely hard to sing (if you’ve ever tried to sing along to this one)? The image this one puts in my head is a starry night, pitch black, as that’s what the guitars in this one sound like, a bunch of twinkling stars. Particularly when the second, chiming guitar joins in later on, complimenting the first guitar more beautifully than anyone could care to imagine. Oh, how I love this song. It is Radiohead’s finest, for sure in my mind.


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