I always have a tough time choosing between “In Rainbows” and “OK Computer” as my favourite Radiohead album – they’re both quite comfortably some of the best albums ever made, and every time I listen to them both they just keep getting better and better.
“In Rainbows” will always hold a special place in my heart, though, as it was the first Radiohead album that I truly fell in love with. There are so many gorgeous and masterful tracks on here, but how would I rank them?
You can check out some of my other music lists below:
10 – Faust Arp
It was quite easy picking a least favourite on this album – “Faust Arp” has never been a favourite of mine, and it always drags this album down when I try and compare “In Rainbows” to “OK Computer”.
It’s not bad by any means – in fact, I’m sure this is actually really good to most people. It’s well put together, it has a certain charm I suppose, and it’s short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome; that being said, this is always the track I’m most likely to skip.
9 – House Of Cards
A decent song overall, but similarly to “Faust Arp” I always seem to forget about this one straight after listening to it.
Again, that doesn’t mean this is a bad song – far from it. All of the songs on “In Rainbows” are masterfully produced and performed, but I have to nitpick slightly if I’m going to discern my favourites from the fodder.
8 – Videotape
The last track on the album, and quite poignant one at that. It does well to utilise its simplicity to get the maximum output, and there are a couple of lyrics (such as “you are my centre when I spin away”) that are so specifically beautiful and touching, whilst also being unconventional.
This simplicity, however, is what keeps this song from being in the “Great” tier. The main idea gets developed nicely, but that really is the only musical idea throughout this entire near-five minute track. A little underwhelming as finale tracks go, but still a very good song.
7 – All I Need
“All I Need” is a track that almost every Radiohead fan would swear by, and I’ve seen countless rankings put this as a top 10 song in the band’s illustrious discography.
I don’t have quite the same love of this track, but it’s still really great. The deep synth and plucky xylophone contrast brilliantly, and there’s an unsettling darkness to the tone and the lyrics that give the song a unique flavour. If you weren’t convinced by the first half, the gorgeous outro will always be enough to send the listener into meltdown.
6 – Reckoner
Similarly to “All I Need”, there’s a large majority of the fanbase that would say “Reckoner” is the best thing since sliced bread, and again I don’t quite hold it in such high esteem – but it’s still bloody brilliant.
This is more stripped-back and bare than a lot of the deep, layered tracks on “In Rainbows”, so this makes for a perfect change of pace on the album. The guitar work, drums and vocals are all top-notch (as always), and the result is a lovely track that I’ve played countless times over the past few days.
5 – Bodysnatchers
Being the 2nd track on the album, “Bodysnatchers” was always going to have a hard time topping “15 Step”. What it does do, however, is brilliantly keep the furious pace of the album going, and by this point the listener is completely hooked.
The guitar tone is the instant and obvious stand-out, and straight away from the first few seconds you know you’re in for a rough ride. The textured layers are bold and brash, yet still display the diligent production that Radiohead are famed for.
“Bodysnatchers” also contains possibly my favourite bridge / outro on the album, and the part where the guitars get stripped-back and almost blues-y gives me chills every time.
4 – Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Going into this album for the first time, this was one of two tracks that I had been previously familiar with. I had always known it to be one of the titans within Radiohead’s discography, and my admiration of this track hasn’t waned since.
Pure rock goodness, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” might be the most run-of-the-mill track on “In Rainbows”, yet it still stands out as one of the best. Every member of the band does an exemplary job, and it’s the team effort that elevates this one into the “Amazing” tier.
3 – Nude
“15 Step” and “Bodysnatchers” give the album an unshakable energy right out the gate, so it’s almost jarring when the mellow sounds of “Nude” take over. This contrast put me off it at first, but over time I have fallen in love with it – and it has almost eclipsed those opening tracks (not quite, but almost).
In terms of the fundamental composition, there is only one other track on the album that is better realised and put together than this one (we’ll get to the other one later!). The vocals are sensational, the slow octaves in the bass are simple yet relaxing, and the outro is unbelievably beautiful. Definitely a highlight on the album, and of Radiohead’s entire career.
2 – 15 Step
The opening track on the album, and this has always been my favourite Radiohead opener – and one of my favourites of theirs ever.
The harsh, synthetic sounds at the start are reminiscent of “Idioteque”, which is already a fantastic comparison to be making. “15 Step” really shines, however, when the chorus kicks in – especially Colin Greenwood’s bass. As a bassist myself, I can really appreciate the bass grooves in this track, and as such the bassline was almost enough to make this my favourite on the album – but there’s one other that I think is better …
1 – Weird Fishes / Arpeggi
Every time I listen to “Weird Fishes / Arpeggi”, I become more and more convinced that it ranks among some of the greatest songs of all time. In terms of the layers and composition, I don’t think any other Radiohead songs come close – it’s truly their magnum opus.
What makes this masterpiece so good? Well, the guitar work is the best I’ve ever heard first of all, and the way all of the parts interconnect is just mesmerising. On top of that, the drums, vocals and backing vocals are all the best on “In Rainbows”, and Ed’s backing harmonies in particular send this track into orbit.
Truly a sonic experience that has to be heard by everyone, I don’t think any artist will make a track quite like this one again.
Aaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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