This might surprise you, but I’m a huge Radiohead fan. Maybe “huge” is an understatement; let’s just say that they’re one of my favorite bands. I have been listening to them for as long as I can remember, and I own all nine of their studio albums on CD (which isn’t really saying much). Other than their 90’s B-sides comp, I’ve been able to dig up every song they’ve ever released and listen to it. Honestly, the worst Radiohead album is still awesome, in my opinion.
9. Pablo Honey (1993)
When Pablo Honey first came out, I was nine years old. I knew of Radiohead but had never heard any of their music (at least none that mattered). One day my dad brought home the CD and put it in our stereo. I remember listening to “Blow Out” on the way to school the next day and thinking how cool it was. However, the rest of the album really pales in comparison. The only song on Pablo Honey that is better than okay is “Creep.” Yes, I know it’s their most famous song and all, but to be honest, it got old for me pretty quickly. Sure they’re a great band, but there were only a few songs that I really liked back then. The rest of the album sounds like a combination of Oasis and Nirvana if that’s at all interesting to you.
8. The King of Limbs (2011)
The other albums on this list I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping a single song; The King of Limbs, however, is the only exception (I do like Morning Mr. Magpie and Little by Little, though). It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to the album, but it’s pretty difficult for me to listen to in its entirety. That doesn’t mean that I’m not impressed with what they did here; The King of Limbs is unique and very interesting. However, there are just too many songs that go nowhere (Codex, Give Up The Ghost), and too many songs sound identical (Give Up The Ghost, Feral, Morning Mr. Magpie). It’s loud in some places and soft in others; it does many things that I love Radiohead for doing. This album is just too long to be considered great, in my opinion.
7. Amnesiac (2001)
Amnesiac was originally supposed to be released as a double album with Kid A, but the band decided to release both albums separately. I love both of these albums, but for different reasons. Amnesiac is “weirder” than Kid A, in my opinion. It’s often described as the “companion album” to Kid A because they are so similar, but it has its own sound and feel. Like The King of Limbs, there are a few songs that I don’t enjoy as much as the others. In this case, it’s Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box and Dollars & Cents. But even with those two being weaker than the rest, Amnesiac is still a wonderful album.
6. The Bends (1995)
The Bends was released in 1995, but I didn’t discover it until 2010. When The King of Limbs came out, I decided to give Radiohead another chance after being disappointed with them for nearly a decade. At first, not knowing any lyrics to their songs hindered my experience. But eventually, I stopped looking them up and just listened. The Bends was the first album that I fell in love with by Radiohead. There’s not a single song on the album I don’t enjoy listening to. It’s also probably their darkest album, which is something I appreciate.
5. Hail To the Thief (2003)
“Hail to the Thief” has some of my favorite songs by Radiohead, but it also has some of my least favorite songs on it as well. I think six or seven songs are incredible, but the other two or three just don’t do anything for me. It’s not that they’re wrong; they just aren’t as good as the rest of the album. That being said, this is an entertaining album to listen to from front to back. In my opinion, it sounds less like an album and more like a compilation of songs. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but there’s something about how all these songs sound together that gives it a unique feel.
4. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)
A Moon Shaped Pool barely makes it into my top five, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the album. In fact, when they initially released it in May 2016, I loved it. However, over the past two years, I’ve listened to it less and less. There aren’t any songs that I dislike on this record, but some of them just don’t appeal to me as much anymore. This album is very atmospheric and haunting; there are a handful of tracks on here that sound like they came straight out of an old Hollywood film; plus, I can’t tell what instruments are being played on most of the songs. It’s exciting and beautiful, but it hasn’t aged well for me.
3. In Rainbows (2007)
In my opinion, most Radiohead fans would place In Rainbows at the top of their list. And I would agree with them; it’s my third favorite Radiohead album of all time, so I can see where they are coming from. It’s got some great songs on it (Reckoner, Nude). However, this is probably the most “bipolar” album on this list for me. I love some songs, but there are some songs that I don’t care for at all. And the ones that aren’t my cup of tea are on side B, which means they’re on my iPod and not skipping through them on my iTunes. Side A is so good, though; it’s one of those few albums that I can listen to from start to finish and love every song.
2. OK Computer (1997)
That’s where Radiohead solidified itself as a world-class band. This album set the bar for what a “rock” band should sound like in this day and age; it’s also one of the best albums of all time (so many publications think so). There’s not much to say about this record that hasn’t already been said. It changed the way people listened to music, and it became a benchmark for what good music should sound like.
1. Kid A (2000)
Of course, this is my favorite Radiohead album. For me, it’s the album that defines what Radiohead is all about – it’s a combination of so many different sounds and textures that mesh together so well. Many people have said this album is nothing but a bunch of noise, but to me, it has some of the most beautiful music they’ve written. Some moments on this record threaten to bring me to tears every time I listen to it; for example, the end of Treefingers and the end of How to Disappear Completely. The first time I heard those outros, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it all sounded. And this album is filled with moments like that; you can tell what they were going for when they made “Kid A” and boy! They did nail it.