Celebrating the 20th anniversary of OK Computer (a favourite here at Lapsus) and Radiohead’s announcement of OKNOTOK, we’ve decided to compile a list of our top 10 favourite Radiohead songs. Write-ups are by our two resident journalists: Julian and Billy. There is no order, except perhaps for our mutual number one. And just for you, we’ve included a juicy Spotify playlist at the bottom. So without further ado…
#1 Let Down
Alone in a bar, watching as the world folds in and swallows itself whole. The world is polluted and it’s dying. There are too many humans on the planet and you still feel more alone than ever. You’re late for work. Your tooth aches. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry uncontrollably. But one day things will change – you will grow wings.
This is what Let Down means to me. A remarkable achievement of song writing and quite likely my favourite ever song.
I like to consider Street Spirit as the audition for OK Computer. Like it? You’ll love what’s coming next. Radiohead really tapped into something special when writing this song – those A minor+E minor chords seem to tell of some bleak future only Thom Yorke is privy to, though he does his best to explain what awaits us all. There is something malevolent about this song I can’t quite put my finger on. Thom probably put it best himself:
” [Fans] don’t realize that ‘Street Spirit’ is about staring the fu**ing devil right in the eyes… and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he’ll get the last laugh.”
No Surprises is a warm hug, right at the end of it all. It’s a song that tells you a beautiful secret about something very dark. To me, it sounds like jumping into a river holding hands with your best friend. You wake up in a pretty garden, with a pretty house. There’s nice beer, flowers, and it’s all OK.
The Paranoid Android tragedy. An A.I. singularity, a heartbeat in the dark rendered for the first time ever and a red flash of light deep, deep underwater, and strange movement, tremors move up with the bubbles and this consciousness is gasping and choking. Now God is bent naked over a plastic bucket. Bloodshot eyes, stinks of vomit. Android, with all your omnipotence, it had to be this world. You, master. This world is your blood. It’s the burning rash on your scalp. And it’s even that cool rain you long for. And I am so, so sorry.
Paranoid Android, whatever the song means to you, is an epic piece of rock storytelling. Totally the flavour of OK Computer, and a solid reason why it’s one of the most acclaimed rock albums of all time.
Everything In Its Right Place
Everything In Its Right Place introduced the world to post-OK-Computer Radiohead – and what a strange and wonderful beast it is. The opening chords of this amazing opener beckon you into a hypnotic soundscape masterpiece as samples of Thom’s trademark falsetto flicker back-and-forth in stereo. Whether the title is an assertion of a final relief that all is well, or that the madness of the world is the way it’s meant to be – well, that’s up to you.
The National Anthem
Track three on Kid A, The National Anthem’s bassline marches on us steadfast, building to that damn eerie climax like a jazzed-out brass band were pitted against itself. The song simmers, cools, boils over. Mysterious electrical murmurings under cover of heavy cymbal. And those slashes of free jazz flex the claws of this brave new Kid A animal. The rise is chaotic, but unnervingly resolute: a state anthem gone totally insane.
Motion Picture Soundtrack
A lost Disney serenade from some bleak dystopian parallel universe. A spurned lover can’t confide in booze, sex, or sad films to overcome the pain. What was once a beautiful thing is now tarnished forever and no amount of love letters or film clichés can make it right again. There’s only one way out for this troubled character. The finale to potentially Radiohead’s most important album, and it couldn’t be more fitting.
For more juicy details on all the right juice, hit up our Facebook page: Lapsus Magazine
There’s always something a bit revelatory about someone’s death – for better or worse. All of your secrets laid bare for those you leave behind to poke around through. Lyrically, the song could mean any number of things. Musically, it’s nothing short of breathtaking. The sporadic drums play like a failing heartbeat, the moaning backing vocals that haunt the middle section sound ghostly, and Thom’s simple piano chords provide the backbone of what is actually a fairly simple melody.
Maybe at the pearly gates we’re sat down next to Saint Peter to review our videotape. What it reveals is what determines whether you get in or not.
All I Need
This is one of those songs I listened to over and over again after a summertime romance fell short and I decided that I was incapable of love and that true emotional intimacy would forever elude me. I mention, of course, as a testament to the song. All I Need is fiercely emotional. Curious, provoking lyrics, and a moody musical simplicity that gives way to a harrowing summit. Listen with caution.
If a Radiohead-y angel descended from the blue clouds above and put on a bedtime lullaby, it’d be Daydreaming. Delicate strings and piano play against each other amid the song’s ethereal, diaphanous atmosphere, forming a 2016 comeback single that is both heartbreaking and beautiful. Daydreaming is a vision of your future, and a sad parable of the past.
And that’s it! Well—this list was actually bloody difficult to decide on. Honourable mentions to Fake Plastic Trees, Jigsaw Falling into Place, Nude and of course the uniquely aggravating Burn the Witch. But what do you think? Did we miss something unforgivable? Do let us know.