As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations for Radiohead’s OK Computer album, we decided to make a list of our top 6 Radiohead songs, comprising their best ever OKNOTOK moments.
Radiohead are the masters of invention and re-invention: taking risks with songs, albums, music, record labels, releases and even album sales. Take a look at our top 6 Radiohead songs and see if you agree. If not, let us know your thoughts below.
Number 1: My Iron Lung
1.My Iron Lung: My Iron Lung EP, 1994
Number one on our top 6 Radiohead songs list is not what you might expect. They released Creep, went global, made MTV, had everyone kissing their collective a**e, fought, sent each other to Coventry and were on the brink of a split. After a chat, they decided to stick together. They then wrote and released the epic comeback track My Iron Lung, back in the days when an EP was legal. Check it.
Number 2: Street Spirit (Fade Out)
2. Street Spirit: The Bends, 1995
The fifth and, for us, standout track on Radiohead’s 1995 The Bends album is Street Spirit (Fade Out). Released at the dawn of Britpop yet standing firmly askew of it, The Bends is the sound of beautiful introspection; a decaying perspective on the world. Street Spirit was the fifth and final single release and the last track on The Bends. It is now 2017 and this song is still timeless, stunning, a masterpiece.
Number 3: Paranoid Android
3. Paranoid Android: OK Computer, 1997
The first single from OK Computer was both a rallying call to the past (Prog Rock, The Beatles, Pink Floyd) and a devastating assessment of the future. OK Computer was released before the turn of the century and encapsulates a lot of social and political angst at the time. An intense, erratic six and a half minute single at the height of Britpop was crazy. We love them for it.
Number 4: The National Anthem
4. The National Anthem: Kid A, 2000
After incessantly touring the OK Computer album, the band suffered burnout and Thom Yorke experienced a mental breakdown. The vibe for the Kid A album became the opposite: No single releases, no interviews, no promo. It’s the first album that sees Radiohead abandoning their traditional vocals, guitar, bass, drums setup and revel in electronic sounds and samples. The album was streamed on the Internet before release, yet another first for the industry. The National Anthem is six minutes of musical mayhem; its best track by far.
Number 5: Jigsaw Falling Into Place
5. Jigsaw Falling Into Place: In Rainbows, 2007
In Rainbows was a first for Radiohead and the music industry several times over. It was their first album released without any major label backing – they chose to self-release it – and the first album ever that gave fans the choice to pay what they wanted for it. Fans could download the entire album for free, or choose to pay the amount they felt the band deserved. Radiohead made headlines around the world for this revolutionary move as they asserted their artistic and musical independence. Jigsaw Falling Into Place encapsulates these moments perfectly.
Number 6: Spectre
6. Spectre, 2015
The final song on our top 6 Radiohead songs list…cannot be found online. Rumours were rife in late 2014 that Radiohead had penned the theme tune for the upcoming Bond film, Spectre. These rumours were never confirmed although most observers found it unlikely, especially given Radiohead’s rejection of overt commercialism. Then, in 2015, they revealed that they had been approached to write the theme tune, but their song was rejected by producers for being ‘too dark’. How ironic. They released the brooding, orchestral Spectre on Christmas Day 2015. As all traces of it have been removed from YouTube, we’ve gone with this guy’s rather awesome piano cover.
What do you think of our Top 6 Radiohead Songs to mark OK Computer’s 20th anniversary? Do you agree or would you have selected others to feature and why? Let us know in our comments section below!