Whilst “Kid A” has never been my favourite Radiohead album, it quite comfortably ranks in third. This may sound insulting, but when you realise the sheer awesomeness of Radiohead’s discography then you realise that third ain’t so bad.
This is easily one of the best albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, and if it was a little bit more consistent I would have even ranked it alongside the other two definitive Radiohead records. Alas, this isn’t quite as perfect as those, but it’s sensational nonetheless – how would I rank these songs?
You can check out some of my related lists below:
11 – Untitled
I wasn’t really planning on including “Untitled” as I think it’s just a random bonus track, but I’ve done that for other albums in the past so I might as well be consistent with it.
This is such an odd track to stick onto the end of the record, and it has absolutely no substance whatsoever. I either just ignore this or skip it entirely.
10 – Treefingers
Sometimes a quick foray into ambient music can work wonders – “Low” is one of my favourite Bowie albums and that’s half ambient, but I’m not engaged by “Treefingers” in the slightest.
It’s not a complete train-wreck as there are some interesting musical ideas and textures, but more often than not I’m going to skip this one.
9 – In Limbo
“In Limbo” is, quite fittingly, a strange mixture of styles, as if it’s in between two musical worlds.
It’s half rock and half ambient, and the final result is odd to say the least. There are definitely some interesting riffs and melodies on display, but it doesn’t really draw me in as much as I’d want it to.
8 – Morning Bell
Radiohead must really like this track, as they’ve played it live countless times alongside their other bona fide classics. While I don’t hold it in as high a regard as they do, I have to admit “Morning Bell” has grown on me.
It’s quite a lovely song when you just look at its fundamental parts, but there are some deeply unsettling melodies and lyrics that give it that edge. It doesn’t quite come together as much as I’d hope, but it gets the job done.
7 – Optimistic
“Optimistic” is a track that wouldn’t be out of place on “The Bends”, but there is a level of maturity in the songwriting that makes it fit in with Radiohead’s later work. Lots of textures are layered on to create a vivid soundscape, and Yorke’s vocals are lovely.
There’s also an insanely good groove in the final few seconds – Colin Greenwood’s bass is hella funky fresh – and I just wish that it had been a full song rather than a tease.
6 – The National Anthem
Who knew we Brits had such an awesome national anthem?
This song kicks into high gear as soon as it starts, with the bass and drum parts creating a kickass anthemic sound for the rest of the band to riff over. I think the live version is even better than the studio recording, as it has even more of an energy with Greenwood playing the radio (which I didn’t realise was possible).
Bonus points for the chaotic jazzy brass interjections, I can see where Bowie’s “Blackstar” got some inspiration.
5 – Kid A
At first I absolutely loathed this song and thought it was the worst of the bunch, but the more I listen to the title track the more I fall in love with it.
This is what “Fitter Happier” should have been, with the unnatural synthetic voice creating a tense and unnerving atmosphere over the sweet melodies of the synths. This is an electronic work of genius, and more so than the opening track I think this set the precedent for what was to come.
4 – Motion Picture Soundtrack
“Motion Picture Soundtrack” is a beautiful, understated gem to close off the album, and the lovely chord progression and tender singing by Yorke is what sells it to me.
The crescendo at the end is also goose-bump inducing, and a true highlight on an already sensational album.
3 – How To Disappear Completely
I’ve seen multiple interviews where Yorke calls this his favourite Radiohead song, and with thousands of fans to back him I’m starting to see why.
The foundational acoustic guitar, drums and bass part are already wonderful, but Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangement is what sends this track into the stratosphere. It feels like a genuine classical masterpiece, which is an unbelievable accomplishment from a rock band.
2 – Everything In It’s Right Place
An opening track’s main goal is always to set up the tone of the album, which this track does splendidly, but also being a fantastic song in its own right is always a plus as well.
“Everything In It’s Right Place” has always been a favourite of mine, and this nightmarish synth bop is exactly what comes to mind whenever I have some brief moments of mental fragility and self-doubt.
1 – Idioteque
Picture the scene – I was 12, had barely listened to any good music (I didn’t even know who Radiohead were), and one day “Idioteque” comes across my eardrums. My youthful mind was blown, and it still sounds as fresh and unique as it did all those years ago.
The thumping synths and drum parts are the clear highlight, but even Yorke’s vocals and lyrics deserve a heap of praise. The atmosphere this song creates is truly extraordinary, and there are no other musical experiences quite like it.
Aaaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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