Every Album by Radiohead Ranked From Worst to Best

Led by enigmatic front-man Thom Yorke, Radiohead have been making waves in the music scene since the early 90’s. From their beginnings as a grunge-rock band to their more recent art-rock efforts, Radiohead have consistently experimented with new ideas and crafted their records to suit the music, over mainstream-friendly chart tunes. After over 30 years of creating original music and releasing ground-breaking albums, it’s safe to say that Radiohead have a few gems under their belt. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the band’s discography and rank them from worst to best.

9. The King of Limbs [2011]

Radiohead’s 2011 release was quite a drastic change from their previous effort with 2007’s “In Rainbows”. With “The King of Limbs,” the band began to experiment more with electronic sounds, reminiscent of the style they used previously on “Kid A”. While not a bad album, I find the group’s 2011 record to be more of a stepping stone, than a full-on release. “The King of Limbs” didn’t break any new ground (which is rather odd for Radiohead), and it seemed to just be a project for Thom Yorke and the band to tinker with new ideas. Most of the record is slightly forgettable, however standout track “Lotus Flower” is still a beautiful song that while initially sounds underwhelming, consecutive listens prove that there is definitely something unique to uncover.

Best Tracks: Give Up The Ghost, Lotus Flower, Separator

8. Amnesiac [2001]

“Amnesiac” was written during the same sessions as “Kid A” between 1999 and 2000, and I think that might be what brings the record down slightly. There are plenty of well-written and well-produced tracks here that deserve great acclaim, however the flow and consistency of the album is lacking slightly, seemingly packed with songs that feel like they were on the cutting-room floor from the “Kid A” sessions. Masterpieces like “Pyramid Song” still stand out from the crowd today, and prove that even on Radiohead’s off days, their records are still capable of packing a punch and having plenty to say.

Best Tracks: Pyramid Song, You and Whose Army?, I Might Be Wrong

7. Pablo Honey [1993]

From what I’ve seen in the music industry, it’s generally considered the band’s debut album “Pablo Honey” is their weakest effort. I feel like I may be alone on this, but I’m willing to stand up for this record. While it may not be as explorative or as experimental as their later albums, Radiohead certainly left an impression with this release. It doesn’t feature many of the group’s “artsy” qualities, however “Pablo Honey,” put simply, is just a great grunge-rock album. Tracks like “You” pack a powerful punch and display the raw passion in Thom Yorke’s vocals. Fan-favourite and Radiohead’s arguably most popular song “Creep” features on the record, and despite being shunned by the band members themselves, is still a great rock track that paints a clear image in the listener’s head.

Best Tracks: Creep, Blow Out, You

6. Hail To the Thief [2003]

“Hail To the Thief” came hot on the heels of the back-to-back releases “Kid A” and “Amnesiac”. Released two years after the latter, this record was Radiohead’s longest to date, and arguably their most diverse. Serving more as a return to their earlier sound, as on “The Bends” and “OK Computer,” “Hail To the Thief” features a more traditional rock vibe, whilst still making use of the electronic influences picked up after “Kid A”. The opening track “2+2=5” begins with a minimalistic electronic beat, however soon begins to shift into an electrifying guitar-fuelled conclusion. Making use of everything the band had learned up that point, “Hail To the Thief” seemed to be the best of both worlds.

Best Tracks: 2 + 2 = 5, There, There, A Wolf At The Door

5. A Moon Shaped Pool [2016]

Radiohead’s most recent LP “A Moon Shaped Pool” is one of their most well-balanced and textured records to date. Serving as a perfect concoction of acoustic instrumentation and electronic synthesizers, this album just simply works. The group clearly made use of their experience working on movie scores to bring “A Moon Shaped Pool” to life, and is evident with songs like “Daydreaming,” and “Identikit.” The record begins with a personal favourite track of mine “Burn the Witch” which is still in the band’s live setlist today. The album is filled to the brim with deep, technical songs that always seem to provide some new insight into the mind of Radiohead, with each consecutive listen.

Best Tracks: Burn The Witch, Daydreaming, Identikit

4. Kid A [2000]

I’m likely to get a lot of flak for placing this record this low on the list, as it’s most people’s pick for either number one or two. I have a massive respect for this album, mainly for the huge impact it had on Radiohead themselves, and the entire music industry as a whole. However, what holds “Kid A” back for me slightly, is that I really have to be in the mood for it to be effective. While bands like U2 and Smashing Pumpkins had made the use of incorporating electronic sounds into their rock tracks a bit mainstream, Radiohead went all the way and crafted a truly unique experience, that features very minimalistic uses of instruments, if any at all. The band became rather obsessed with deconstructing songs and misplacing subtle elements, making a rather odd yet intriguing experience. It may not click for you right away, but if you persist and listen to “Kid A” multiple times, you’ll honestly change the way you listen to music.

Best Tracks: How To Disappear Completely, In Limbo, Idioteque

3. In Rainbows [2007]

After the release of 2003’s “Hail To the Thief,” Radiohead’s six-album contract with EMI had expired and the band went on hiatus. In 2005 the group reunited and began working a new record, titled “In Rainbows,” which they released themselves in 2007 as a “pay-what-you-want download” scheme. This LP is arguably Radiohead’s most accessible release to date, with the tracklist flowing cohesively (as expected by Radiohead), yet still managing to feature songs that stand on their own and don’t need to be bundled in with a larger experience. “In Rainbows” powers through it’s run-time, making use of classical instruments and on tracks like “Videotape,” Yorke sounds the most raw and human he ever has and probably will.

Best Tracks: Nude, Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place

2. The Bends [1995]

After the success of “Pablo Honey,” Radiohead began working on the LP that would begin the journey to and more importantly, define what the band would later become. Casting aside the traditional rock tracks featured on their debut, “The Bends” is absolutely spilling with touching, creative songs that truly stand the test of time. The record stands out due to Radiohead putting their full creativity on show, yet without the electronic sounds that would later make up their albums, causing the band to sound naked almost. The spiritual vibes and immersive sound pull you in and don’t let go until the album’s conclusion. Yorke’s perfect vocal delivery on “Fake Plastic Trees” is still a highlight on the record and to this day is my favourite track by the group.

Best Tracks: High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just

1. OK Computer [1997]

Yes okay, it’s the “mainstream choice” but for good reason. The band’s third studio LP was so ahead of it’s time that the world still seems to be catching up now. From the opening track “Airbag” detailing a traumatic experience Yorke had in a car crash, to the fan-favourite “Paranoid Android,” that’s six and a half minutes of bliss that seems to just fly by. The beautiful “Exit Music (For a Film)” written for the Romeo + Juliet movie perfectly displays what can be done and what emotions can be portrayed through simplistic sounds. Two of my favourite Radiohead tracks “Karma Police” and “No Surprises” appear on this record, and despite having completely different sounds, still manage to seamlessly connect the record together. Fairly hard to describe without experiencing the album for yourself, “OK Computer” is just a perfect collection of tracks about alienation. The record launched Radiohead’s popularity to the stratosphere and served as a taste of what the band had yet to come in their discography.

Best Tracks: Paranoid Android, Karma Police, No Surprises

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5 Replies to “Every Album by Radiohead Ranked From Worst to Best”

  1. I’m going to joined in, OK?
    My fave Radiohead album is The King Of Limbs and I’ve got to have write a full detail, very long blog post explaining all the reasons but it’s under-rated as hell, I think! it’s so very easy to dismissed but I don’t think anyone, everyone has given it it’s time of day! After listening to it too 100’s or maybe 1000’s of times even on repeat for day’s at a time, throwing in the non-album tracks The Daily Mail/Staircase singles and Supercollider/The Butcher plus then also watching the live from the basement DVD does make it as great as anything the band has every done and one of the greatest album ever on headphone but not on your phone, I’m talking real headphones! Also the remix album is very telling too but then again, maybe all of it is not and it’s just me?
    Cheers Connor 🙂

    Like

    1. There isn’t an album by Radiohead that I actively dislike, but to me “The King of Limbs” just seemed the most incohesive of them all. It’s still an enjoyable experience though and “Lotus Flower” is one of my favourite Radiohead songs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s cool, does seems to be the popular opinion!
        Anyway I’ve only just found you, have you been blogging long? You look like you’ve got some cool stuff and will have to have a better look around! OK? 🙂

        Like

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