With a release coming out today, I wanted to give a ranking of the discography of arguably my favorite band of all time. I have loved how this group has evolved since its debut album and have improve on its writing and sound to create some of the greatest records of all time. This ranking was actually fairly difficult for me since I love most of this group’s records and I honestly do not think they have made anything bad. They honestly cannot screw up in my eyes. So here is my ranking of every Radiohead album so far.
8. The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs is not as bad as it was disappointment considering how great each of Radiohead’s records had been leading up to this. It is only 8 tracks, under 40 minutes in length, and does not really pack the kind of emotional punch that other Radiohead albums do. The looping of various instrumentations creates a very unique sound that does make this album worth a listen, however.
7. Pablo Honey
While most people would say this is Radiohead’s worst record, I would still argue it’s a damn good one. Aside from their breakout hit “Creep,” there are plenty of underrated songs like “You,” “Anyone Can Play Guitar” and “Stop Whispering” that I still love. It does sound a little dated now once you consider what this group eventually ended up putting out, this collection of U2 knockoffs is not too amazing.
An album I think gets overlooked as being an inferior version of its sister album that preceded it. And I understand that as it features lyrics that have never been able to emotionally connect to me on the same level. Still, the wide variety of sounds and instrumentations is always an enjoyable listen. Songs like “Pyramid Song” and “I Might Be Wrong” are also classic Radiohead tracks in my opinion.
5. Hail to the Thief
Undoubtedly Radiohead’s most political album, Hail to the Thief is definitely a nice change in lyrical style while still playing and mastering electronic sounds. It is not even political in the sense that it protests what was going on at the time in a direct way, but instead captures the tone of that era. The more human songs, written after Thom Yorke became a father, are also quite touching and standout in a great way. I always saw this as being under appreciated as being an interesting part in their discography.
4. The Bends
This is where we get into the albums that deserve to be recognized as classics. Radiohead perfected everything they attempted to do with Pablo Honey and crafted this beautiful collection of rock music. The lyrics became more cryptic, the themes broadened, and the wheels started turning towards what would become Radiohead’s towering achievements. This also gave us classic and definitive 90s songs like “High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees” just to name a couple.
3. In Rainbows
After working with electronics, In Rainbows brings Radiohead back a little to more traditional rock instrumentation. After tackling political, angry themes on Hail to the Thief¸ this brought more human and personal content forward. Between the love song, or as much of a love song as you could get from Radiohead, “All I Need,” to “Reckoner” and “House of Cards” and the heart wrenching closer “Videotape” this is one of the best album of the 2000s and is not to be missed.
2. OK Computer
The most consumer-friendly in Radiohead’s discography, this record is still one of the best of all time. It features so many great tracks that are definitive Radiohead from singles like “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police” to it’s great deep cuts like “Airbag” and “Let Down,” there is not a slow moment on here. I have listened to this record dozens of times and it never gets old, I am always finding more and more stuff to love about it. As a rock band, this was Radiohead’s peak and there is no real way for them to top this, but that is okay by me. I am honored to have been born in the same year this record was released.
1. Kid A
Kid A is Radiohead’s Pet Sounds, as it goes against everything Radiohead had built up in the 90s. Electronics are on full display here, the vocals are edited to be just another instrument, and jazz instrumentation is used. After a mental breakdown, Yorke used this album to cope with the feelings of stress and anxiety he had while touring. The lyrics are deeply personal once encrypted and will strike an emotional chord with any listener willing to put forward the effort. This is easily the most developed and unique record in Radiohead’s discography and I see it as their quintessential album. Kid A is more than just a collection of great songs, it is a piece of art that is to be consumed from front to back and viewed as a whole.