Ranking The Discography: Radiohead

Radiohead are one of the most essential bands of the last 25 years. They have steered the alternative rock genre to what it is today, and popularized experimental music in the mainstream. Here are their nine studio albums ranked from worst to best.

9. Pablo Honey (1993)

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Apart from the international hit “Creep,” with is a largely forgettable debut. It’s a good sign of things to come, but the band was still developing in terms of their sound and songwriting here.

Essential Tracks: “Creep”

8. The King of Limbs (2011)

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Their shortest album is also their thinnest in terms of depth. It’s not a bad album per say, but after a four year gap between albums, people expected more. The lack of fulfillment their is still felt on this record.

Essential Tracks: “Lotus Flower,” “Codex”

7. Amnesiac (2001)

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Amnesiac is far and away the band’s least accessible albums. Made up mostly of leftover cuts from Kid A, the album is very strange, and often impenetrable But it’s a rewarding listen when given a real chance.

Essential Tracks: “Pyramid Song,” “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors,” “Knives Out”

6. Hail to the Thief (2003)

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After the avant garde approach of Kid A, and Amnesiac, Radiohead reigned themselves in a little bit, and tried a bit of electronic-infused rock rather than the other way around. The result is an immensely enjoyable, thematically heavy album.

Essential Tracks: “2 + 2 = 5,” “Sit Down, Stand Up,”There, There”

5. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

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Radiohead’s latest record is also their most piercing. With the incorporation of orchestral elements this time around, the record explores themes of loss, abandonment, and love. Singer Thom Yorke’s partner of over two decades, Rachel Owen, passed away late last year, and the pain is definitely felt of this understated, but beautiful album.

Essential Tracks: “Burn the Witch,” “Daydreaming,” “True Love Waits”

4. In Rainbows (2007)

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This is where things get tricky. When a band has released several essentially perfect albums, how do you go about finding which are better than others? Very carefully. In Rainbows was a pay-what-you-want release, which shook the music industry. It doesn’t do a whole lot new or different, but it makes up for a lack of innovation by being outright gorgeous. The album drips with feeling and is an essential component of Radiohead’s discography.

Essential Tracks: “15 Step,” “Nude,” “Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi,” “Videotape”

3. Kid A (2000)

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This is the record that had everyone scratching their heads. It was a huge departure from the band’s rock roots, into an avant garde, electronic soundscape. Vocal effects abound, much of the lyrics are nonsense, used for their sonic value rather than their actual meaning, and the instrumentation is often eerily distorted. Alternative music was never the same.

Essential Tracks: “Everything in its Right Place,” “The National Anthem,” “How to Disappear Completely,” “Idioteque”

2. The Bends (1995)

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The Bends is Brit Rocks shining moment. The band’s second album perfectly expanded upon the band’s debut into something that was notably bigger than itself. The Bends is deeply layered, both in its sound and themes, abrasive, lovely, gloomy, ethereal, and iconic.

Essential Tracks: “High and Dry,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “(Nice Dream),” “Just”

1. OK Computer (1997)

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Albums don’t get much better than this. OK Computer took a sharp turn away from the pop rock sound that was popular and essentially set the stage for the next generation of alternative. Each facet is expertly crafted, and perfectly indicative of the angst and dejected attitudes that defined the turn of the century. It’s an undoubtedly iconic piece of work that solidifies Radiohead’s place as one of the most important groups of recent times.

Essential Tracks: “Paranoid Android,” “Let Down,” “Karma Police,” “No Surprises”

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Top 5 Albums of the 2010s So Far

5. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

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Run the Jewels, the rap duo made between Killer Mike and El-P, has proven to be one of the best projects in rap in recent memory. The two have impeccable chemistry, and El-P’s production has never sounded better. Out of the three they’ve released so far, RTJ2 is the most accomplished.

4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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The Harvard pretty boys have come a long way since their first record in 2008. Their latest (though they intend to release a new one this year) is nuanced, mature indie. A poignant sound counts what is probably the best indie pop record of the last ten years.

3. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

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Who would have thought that a member of Odd Future would be capable of high art. Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” is high brow pop of the best kind; poignant, catchy, and full of depth.

2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

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Not many people thought Kendrick could top his 2012 masterpiece “Good Kid M.A.A.D City” (which would probably also be on this list if I expanded) but then “To Pimp a Butterfly” came along. The fusion of jazz, funk, and hip hop, coupled with painfully relevant social commentary make TPAB one of the most important records of recent years.

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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The maximalism and commentary on fame that Kanye brought to the table in 2010 was something the world had never seen and has yet to see repeated. This is rap of the highest caliber.

The Case for Eurodance

The 90s were a strange time. A huge number of trends and scenes opened up, in music, fashion, film, etc, and almost none of them have aged well. Perhaps the most bizarre, or most maligned of these trends was Eurodance, a wave of music that sprang up in countries like Germany and Italy in the late 80s and became a cultural phenomenon by the mid 90s. Has it aged well? Not at all. Was the music particularly revolutionary? Not really. Is it absurdly endearing? You bet.

Take Eiffel 65’s 1999 classic “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” Check out the atrocity of a music video here. Since its inital release, the song has maintained steady popularity, parodied relentlessly, and often included in films.

Another classic hit is Scatman John’s 1995 track “Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop).” Who can resist a lovable old man babling nonsense over a super catchy synth beat?

Are either of these songs any good? Not really. They’re catchy sure, but lyrics are virtually nonexistent, and a a majority of this genre is just a cacophany of synth and drum beats.

So what makes eurodance so endearingly popular? Easy. Nostalgia. The sound of eurodance encapsulates the 90s. The musical arrangements, the dated clothes, the awful cgi. All of these provide a glimps into a time long gone. I’m not going to pretend eurodance is Mozart or anything but i’ll at least have a bit of it on rotation just for kicks.