Radiohead has been in my Top 5 favourite bands for over 10 years now and with The King of Limbs being available NOW, yes it is available a day early, we thought it appropriate to grace them with a BolsterYourHolster Top 5 countdown.
Trying to pick a Top 5 of Radiohead is one of the most frustrating endeavors as really they deserve a Top 25 or a Top 10 at least. With so many great songs, it is inevitable that some amazing songs will be left out. I have 5 songs in mind right now, but what about ‘Cuttooth’, the greatest non-album Radiohead track ever? How about ‘Talk Show Host’ the most well known Radiohead soundtrack track? The hits like ‘Karma Police’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and ‘Street Spirit’? The fan favourites ‘Pyramid Song’, ‘The National Anthem’ and ‘Nude’? You get the idea.
Such a fantastic discography (let’s forget Pablo Honey) makes everyone’s Top 5 different and ever changing. But that is part of the greatness of Radiohead, there are so many brilliant songs that you need not worry about finding 5 great songs, just which ones are your favourite on that day.
5. Tie: There There from Hail to the Thief/ Let Down from OK Computer
The reasoning behind the tie lies in the release of In Rainbows. ‘Reckoner’ totally took me over, hence bumping one of these off the list, but that would be cruel. Therefore these two both are number 5 in my heart and really, I can’t pick a favourite. Just for fun I’d put ‘A Punch Up at a Wedding’, ‘Planet Telex’ and ‘The National Anthem’ around this area too, just depends on what mood i’m in.
‘There There’ was the first single off of Hail to the Thief and featured three drums. It was the first and only “tribal” Radiohead track. It also features one of the finest build ups of any Radiohead song.
‘Let Down’ is the OK Computer track that the band never play live anymore, but every fan wishes they could hear. The harmonies at the end of this song are majestic and can any song with such depressing lyrics sound as beautiful?
4. You & Whose Army from Amnesiac
Love the stand-up bass in this track live. You & Whose Army starts off as a simple Radiohead track, but it’s all about the payoff. Thom Yorke eggs the listener on and then boom – WE RIDE TONIGHT –> GHOST HORSES.
3. Paranoid Android from OK Computer
Quite arguably the masterpiece from Radiohead’s cannon, ‘Paranoid Android’ is three songs rolled into one massive, epic achievement. Do you remember 1997? How about the cartoon video? Radiohead opened for Alanis Morisette that year and played a 10 minute version of this live before trimming it down to six minutes for OK Computer. True Stuff.
2. Reckoner from In Rainbows
I believe this is the most beautiful song that Radiohead has ever released. Listening to In Rainbows for the first time I was convinced this would be a hard rock song, due to a song Radiohead played once live called ‘Reckoner‘ that involved a lot of shouting “pa pa pa pa pa”. (That song later evolved into ‘Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses’, available on a Thom Yorke single). I can’t describe Reckoner, but it is the closest to being in rainbows that Radiohead has ever been.
1. Idioteque from Kid A
Kid A was anything but conventional when it was released in 2000. Radiohead’s previous effort had made them a worldwide success and people were impatiently waiting for more. Kid A instead threw everyone in a loop with free jazz, distorted voices, ambient interludes and beat boxing. ‘Idioteque’ was built from a sequence Jonny Greenwood made up, Thom Yorke drove around in his car listening to it and made up some lyrics. This song really shines live, Yorke normally goes a bit crazy and backing beat changes ever so slightly making it more dynamic and conducive to dancing (aka. flailing limbs madly).
Radiohead – Top 5 +1 for good luck
Although I have been a fan of Radiohead since highschool (which is a very long time for me), I have not delved into the b-sides or rarities. So unlike Kris, whom I am assuming will have some more obscure selections, all my song selections are regular album tracks that have grown with me. Below are my top 5 plus one for good luck. And if you ever get a chance to see them live. DO IT!!!
15 Step – In Rainbows
That stuttery drum gets me overtime. And I can’t stop visualizing Thom dancing to this song when I saw them perform it live. It’s the perfect opener to In Rainbows.
The National Anthem – Kid A
This is what Radiohead style free jazz sounds like. Loud, chaotic, and electronic. The bass line just never stops and it seems to anchor you while the rest of the world flies all around it.
No Surprises – OK Computer
It’s all about that pretty guitar riff at the beginning and the instrumental build over top of it. “No surprises” is one of the most understated tracks on OK Computer and despite it’s melancholy lyrics, the glockenspiel seems to leave a positive feeling for me. And I am a sucker for harmonies.
Bones – The Bends
Old school Radiohead. High and Dry got me into this album, Fake Plastic Trees kept me there, but this is the song that stuck for me. It’s pure Radiohead Rock for the time. Quiet.. Loud.. Quiet.. Loud.. The formula for mid-90’s Rock. And it worked. Brings me back to my final year of High School.
How to disappear completely – Kid A
I absolutely love this song. The subtle acoustic guitar. The electric guitar lines. The lyrics. Drenched in orchestration and reverb. Slow and Quiet Radiohead at it’s best.
Punch up at a wedding – Hail to the Thief
And because I couldn’t leave this song out, it is my bonus track. The song seems to build up without increasing tempo or volume. It’s one of those songs that you expect to explode, but it never does. Instead, it waits for Myxamatosis to finish it off.
Kristyn is busy this week, but she did manage to send a list. She also mentioned that she once closed down the Druid (a local pub), by slow dancing to Creep with an army man (no wonder that is on her Top 5).
In no particular order:
karma police from OK Computer
high and dry from The Bends
fake plastic trees from The Bends
creep from Pablo Honey
bodysnatchers from In Rainbows
And that is all… Now go listen to The King of Limbs on repeat for the rest of the day.