No band over the past decade has had more of an influence than ‘s “math rock” band, Radiohead. With the 1997 release of Ok Computer, Radiohead altered the idea of an album, revolutionized concepts to fit the post-modern world. It’s hard to discuss this group without sounding pretentious, since they attempt to accomplish so much (and achieve much of it). Along the path to altering the musical landscape, Radiohead has conceived of and recorded some incredible songs. Here are, in my opinion, the top ten.
10) “You and Whose Army”
From the incredibly beautiful Amnesiac, Radiohead’s 2001 release, “You and Whose Army” contains such a quiet rage. The song is really moving. Quiet rage is a familiar theme in Radiohead’s work, especially on an album like Amnesiac or Ok Computer, but somehow this song achieves more than just the communication of ire. There seems to be resolution near the end.
9) & 8) “Fake Plastic Trees/ High and Dry”
I need to get the songs from The Bends-the groups 1995 effort-out of the way so I can focus on the later work, but both these songs are so magnificently beautiful. Thom Yorke’s voice is powerful and touching. The songs are rich with layered sound but in an incredibly palatable way. Both “Fake Plastic Trees” and “High and Dry” would be top two songs for any other band, but Radiohead did so much with their later albums that contributions from Pablo Honey and The Bends get overshadowed.
7) “No Surprises”
While “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android” got most of the single press from Ok Computer, “No Surprises” is, to me, an awesome song. “Paranoid Android” is great as well, but a lot of it has to do with the context of the album, or its role in setting the tone for the work (it’s the second song). “No Surprises” has a raw feel to it, despite its prettiness and musicality.
6) “Everything in its Right Place”
Let’s get right into Kid A, where I think Radiohead’s career begins. The opening track, “Everything in its Right Place” is a haunting and complex song-which repeats the refrain, everything in its right place, while constantly disorienting the listener by altering sounds and voices. Not only does this song introduce you to the new Radiohead, it is a great, great song.
5) “How to Disappear Completely”
My word, is this a depressing but beautiful tune. This song, again from 2000’s Kid A, captures the essence of Thom Yorke’s voice and the band’s general mood. These songs from Kid A introduce us to the post-post-modern (do worry, I don’t know what these terms really mean either) world. Radiohead is playing with angles of approaching songs and generating incredible sounds.
4) “Life in a Glass House”
From Amnesiac, “Life in a Glass House” comes complete with a full-on trumpet section. The song gives off a slightly different sound than other Radiohead tunes, although with all the stunning complexity.
3) “Motion Picture Soundtrack”
This is a simpler song, the last track off of Kid A, and an absolute beauty. I don’t think I need to say anything more about it.
The energy alone in this song is enough to captivate if not unnerve in an awesomely good way. Add to that the authentic 1970’s synthesizers used and Thom Yorke’s yellings and you’ve got one of the coolest Radiohead songs.
I am absolutely kidding. Not that it’s a bad song, it just isn’t tops. “Packed Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box” is for me the top Radiohead song. It’s got unbelievable energy and concurrently depth (this is a tricky feat). The music is at once complex and catchy. Radiohead hit this one right on the money-even if they swear it’s not about that.