When you bring up the question of “who are the best band of all time”, more often that not you’ll hear one word uttered: Radiohead. While they’re constantly memed by not only their own fans but the music community at large, their decades spanning discography is full of creative endeavours, from genre defining to genre creating. To commemorate the band’s career thus far, five radiohead fans from the site have put their heads together, voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography.
Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s put everything in its right place and get into it…
9. Pablo Honey (1993)
Andrew Barr (@weeandreww): ….erm…it’s got creep I suppose?
Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh): I’d rather go through the pain of killing my da again than listen to Pablo Honey.
Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr): Straight up, not the worst album ever made. I think Radiohead fans overreact when talking about it, it’s by no means great, it’s just a bang average alt rock album.
Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge): It’s undeniable how important creep was in giving them the financial freedom to continue as a band create what they want musically. However, it’s obvious that they were still finding their feet as a band, very symbolic of immaturity (esp. the infamous mtv beach house performance).
Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster): For me, Pablo Honey is FINE, just got some duds but really just sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of their discography.
8. The King Of Limbs (2011)
E: Right it’s really just a weird one eh, like that one time you wore that horrific jacket for months and looking back on that time in your life you’re just like “why?” this album is alright but really has no impact on radiohead sonically and just seems like a detour for them.
H: It’s a clever album but nowhere near worth the five year waiter, especially after In Rainbows. They should have just released the last four tracks as an EP – whole LP is too short to bother with and first half is too repetitive.
L: I’ve not made my feelings of this album a secret but the fact I still dislike it in most aspects her own it on vinyl says a lot. I think where most of my dissatisfaction stems from is that it was something new but felt…bland? Or that it at least attempted to be something new but the band never followed up on it and eventually it just feels like a bump in what was previously a pretty smooth ride.
J: An incredibly weird record within the confines of their discography. they kind of regress in sound back towards what they’d already perfected in the Kid A/Amnesiac era. I do think it’s great but I don’t see why it exists for lack of a better term?? it’s got some stunners on it like Codex and Separator but then there’s tracks like Feral and Morning Mr Magpie that are kind of just meh?
E: I respect radiohead a lot for actually bothering to make this album, and perhaps after seemingly peaking on in rainbows, the only way to go was to totally immerse themselves in the unknown.
L: Jake pretty much summed it up there for me, they kind of just wanted to do what they had already perfected which I can’t fault them for as they did attempt to change it up but it’s a step back rather than forward.
7. The Bends (1995)
L: Right off the bat: My Iron Lung, Fake Plastic Trees and High and Dry are three of my favourite songs by Radiohead so The Bends holds a special place in my heart.
A: I feel like there’s a tendency to look back on the bends with rose-tinted glasses: heard it in live sets (tracks like FPT, Street Spirit and the title track) however when I listened back to it there’s quite a few just “meh” tracks on it.
E: As said, it’s a perfectly good album but knowing what came after it feels like one of their weakest, still worth a listen.
H: Yeah, it’s ood, but still very of the era – I wouldn’t complain if any other band did it but what radiohead are renowned for is their experimentation and there is none of it here – however just and the title track are bangers.
A: However it was a massive massive step up from PH and a record they had to make to eventually make OKC, as previously stated tracks like Street Spirit, Fake Plastic Trees, My Iron Lung and the title track feel like classic Radiohead, the melancholic feel that has characterised their career was even evident on the slow burners.
J: Aye if someone is just getting into Radiohead I think this would be a decent starting point, I’d advise skipping Pablo Honey completely but that’s because I’m a bad boy. There are a fair few bangers on the Bends and all of the tracks are killer live, all in all it’s real good.
6. Amnesiac (2001)
J: Aw I really like Amnesiac. I think it gets a bad rap. It’s got like 3 of my all time favourite Radiohead tracks on it (Pyramid Song, Knives Out, Like Spinning Plates) so i’ll always hold it in high regard.
E: A strange entry in radiohead’s discography, it really does feel like if it didn’t exist their journey as a band would still flow the same, but at the same time i think there is a lot to be enjoyed about it and if you like radiohead at this time in their career then there’s really not much to dislike.
L: Honestly a great album, the b side meme is good and all but I think that mostly stems from Radiohead trying to constantly change their sound so when they stayed even a bit similar fans got annoyed, it’s really just more of what we all loved.
H: I’d say this is where the band peaked in terms of experimenting – genuinely not a band thing I can say about it, pretty bummed that it’s this low.
A: I fucking love Amnesiac, I feel it’s so easy to forget about but it’s so worth the time it takes to get into it. Tracks like Revolving Doors are some of the most batshit crazy things the band have ever done and they deserve a place on this record.
J: That being said, none of the songs bar Packt Like Sardines maybe would have worked on Kid A imo, so it was smart of them to hold off on the tracks. It’s a really really strong record with some staggeringly weird bits thrown in.
E: You and Whose Army finds Radiohead at their most urgent though and will always be one of my favourite tracks.
A: I love that they made a record which comprises tracks as simple and beautiful as You and Whose Army and Pyramid Song and placed it alongside a track running through the different kinds of doors that exist.
J: Hunting Bears is a belter too, it’s a bit of an anomaly in their back catalogue in the sense that the songs were saved from the cutting room floor but I think it’s a banging record.
5. Kid A (2000)
J: Kid A is a saucy little bugger of an album. It took me a long time to get into when I started properly getting into Radiohead but i’m glad I stuck with it because it is SPECIAL.
L: Admittedly it took me so long to “get” this album, especially after what had came before. Most of the appeal of it comes from imagining Thom and co going “see what we did last time? Fuck that, let’s try something else” which doesn’t automatically mean that album will be any good but oh fuck did they do it again.
E: Kid A is that album that transitioned radiohead from that band your dad likes to that band your dad used to like before they got “weird” and now your uncle loves them. Such a manic departure from what came before, but so essential once again in leading radiohead to what is to come, but somehow manages to be one of their strongest records at the same time.
A: I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to an album with such a clear atmosphere running through each track, it sounds like the cover makes it sound. It’s sparse, foreign and mechanical but in all of the best ways, and making it after OK Computer cemented Radiohead’s genius.
L: Everything In Its Right Place has and always will make me weirdly uncomfortable, everything from the peculiar instrumentals to Thom’s delivery just has you feeling some kind of way.
H: The national anthem does not belong on this album but that being said, it’s a Krautrock inspired collection of particularly creative tracks. It also arguably contains the best trio of tracks in their discography – idioteque, morning bell, motion picture. soundtrack
J: I adore the fact that they just fucked off the legacy they’d built pre-Kid A and went fucking batshit mental. it took a lot of balls to do that and the fact that it paid off as convincingly as it did is a testament to how good Radiohead truly are
4. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)
A: It’s not been out for long enough yet for it truly to be considered as one, but it’s going down as a Radiohead classic.
H: It’s a definite comeback but it’s still past their best imo – that being said identikit and present tense are great tracks and I fucking love them.
L: Undoubtedly the band’s most mature work thus far and easily their most emotional work to date, much like Blackstar it was a great album already but events that surfaced after its release helped it to transcend into something more than most art can ever hope to achieve.
E: The definition of a grower, each track seems to be its own a thing which actually isn’t a bad thing on this album but does maybe signal this may be their final offering but if so it will be an extremely strong farewell which still finds radiohead stretching themselves musically such as on ful stop which is so non-linear it’s a fascinating listen.
L: The band basically limit their palette to this really niche pick of colours (or sounds rather) and achieve this minimalistic beauty of a record – I feel like this with time it’ll age into something really special.
J: I find it really relaxing. tunes like Daydreaming and True Love Waits are really stunning. I often listen to AMSP to help me fall asleep, which isn’t a slight on the record at all. it just puts me in a really relaxed mindset.
A: When you think about it, you think “oh it’s a lot of slow songs with strings and drum machines” but the instrumental variation throughout the record is superb, from the urgency of tracks like Burn the Witch and Ful Stop to ethereally beautiful tracks like Daydreaming and True Love Waits.
J: it has all the characteristics of a Radiohead album but they’ve all been tweaked ever so slightly to make something really unique and special – give it 5 years and this will easily go down as another(!) classic.
3. Hail To The Thief (2003)
J: BEST RADIOHEAD ALBUM FUCKING FIGHT ME I’LL DM ANYONE MY ADDRESS, I’M NOT FUCKING SCARED, I’LL GLOAM EVERY CUNT.
L: I know no album is truly underrated since someone will always love an album but HTTT is truly underrated in the context of Radiohead’s discography.
J: It doesn’t get anywhere near the respect it deserves and it infuriates me.
H: This would be their best if it was just a bit shorter on certain tracks e.g get rid of the gloaming but considering the short period of time it was created in, it’s pretty phenomenal.
E: I think it comes close to being radiohead’s best album, but for every moment of genius such as myxomatosis or, in my opinion their best track of all time, There, There, there’s just a dull track or a down right bad track that lets it down, and it just becomes a bit clustered and tedious but it definitely had signs of what had been looming all along and they begin to experiment even further electronically and instrumentally
L: 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and Backdrifts are the first that spring to mind when I remember this album, much like Kid A I was hesitant to listen to it but given what came before it it has that perfect mix of my favourite Radiohead album that mixes the old with the new.
J: It blew me away the first time I heard it in all honesty. it is absolutely gorgeous. songs like Sail To The Moon, Sit Down, Stand Up and Scatterbrain really let Radiohead’s ability to write beautiful pieces of music shine.
A: In all seriousness, HTTT is CRAZY underrated, by going back to a guitar sound it shows just how much Radiohead have evolved as a band and as musicians since they last made “rock” records and as a result, I prefer the heavier moments on this album to Radiohead’s heavier tracks earlier in their career. 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and There, There are all massive rock tunes but are blessed by the songwriting genius that the band had acquired
2. OK Computer (1997)
E: Garbage 2/10
L: Ethian Woodford CANCELLED.
J: I don’t like OK Computer as much as everyone else likes OK Computer but I still think OK Computer is a classic. OK Computer.
E: Obviously joking, OK computer is what made radiohead radiohead, everything that both fans and casual listeners associate them with stems from this record and it still has an influence on alternative rock today, it really is a classic in every sense of the word.
L: The first “partrician” album I listened to when I was 15 after googling “best albums ever made”, it’s undoubtedly the most important album Radiohead have and ever will make though that shouldn’t be interpreted as best though their best song, my favourite anyway, makes an appearance.
J: Undeniably a classic, without a weak track on it in my mind, but this isn’t peak Radiohead.
H: It might be a tad overrated but the recent release of OKNOTOK cemented it as one of the greatest + most influential albums of the nineties.
L: Also I know people say it’s not a track but Fitter Happier never gets skipped, I can imagine that kind of track being even more relevant to our generation than those who listened to it upon its arrival.
A: I feel like it’s an album made by its “moments” – the 3rd verse of let down, the “rain down” section of paranoid android, the climax/crescendo of exit music, the “for a minute there, I lost myself” of karma police etc etc, there’s so many moments that blow you away on OK Computer.
J: This is also undeniably the album that kicked Radiohead onto the course to being one of the best bands in history – the jump in quality in just 3 albums is genuinely staggering, how the fuck they went from writing songs like How Do You to songs like Paranoid Android will never not baffle me.
A: It’s not looked on fondly by all Radiohead fans but part of OK Computer’s legacy is the bands it’s inspired who set out to pretty much make OK Computer again, the likes of Muse and Coldplay.
J: Agreed Andy, so many bands try and have “moments” like that in their songs just for a live setting, but with the tracks on OK Computer the “moments” come so organically it’s stupid.
1. In Rainbows (2007)
L: BEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME, 10 OUTTA 10, HUNDRED OUTTA HUNDRED, MASTAHPIECE.
A: This album is a solid 10/10, the best the band have ever made and one of the best records ever made.
H: Inarguably the best – most standalone great tracks (reckoner and weird fishes/arpeggi in particular) and works perfectly start to finish – all the musical and emotional variety you need in two thirds of the length of HTTT.
E: Really once you listen to this album it’s clear what radiohead have been working towards, this album is a masterpiece, from the lyrics to the production, its everything they could possibly have hoped to achieve and for me the most underrated track is Reckoner, finds thom in a truly vulnerable state and is extremely sparse for a radiohead track and results in something beautiful.
A: I know it’s only got 10 tracks, but there’s not one lull in the 43 minutes of music, not a dud track to be seen or not even a verse or a bridge which doesn’t sound as good as it possibly could.
L: It really is a fantastic culmination of everything the band have attempted to do and succeeded with, learning from past mistakes and making an album that I honestly believe has not one weak tracking.
A: You literally only need to name the tracks and it’ll be obvious how many classics there are. Nude, Bodysnatchers, Videotape, All I Need, Jigsaw Falling Into Place and my personal favourite, Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.
J: There’s not much I can say about In Rainbows that hasn’t already been said. it is unequivocally a 10/10 record. in every way. simply stunning. Angry, sad, hopeful, pessimistic all at once. it’s just… aye. it’s immaculate.
A: It’s become a massive meme (EEEEED) but fuck me, Ed’s vocals on Weird Fishes and the way they combine with Thom’s are beautiful and creates the most calming but urgent music moment ever, absolute bliss.
J: HTTF is still a more enjoyable listen for me but this is undoubtedly their best album. Top to tail stuffed with genius. and Disk 2 is magic as well – BANGERS AND MASH BOIZ.
L: I think even the way it was released set a real trend that, while wasn’t started by Radiohead, was definitely popularised by them.
A: Yeah a massive testament to the record is how much press it’s release method got, yet the music has emerged and more than spoken for itself, which shows how genius the album actually is.