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Top 10 Best Radiohead Songs

Updated on January 19, 2012

Radiohead has proved to be one of the driving forces behind the last decade of alternative rock music. They are one of the only bands that truly keep their audience guessing; every album released has a completely different sound than the previous one. I have compiled a list of the top ten Radiohead songs which is based not only on popularity, but also on both quality and originality. Seeing that Radiohead is one of my all-time favorite bands, it was hard to pick only ten songs, so I've added a few honorable mentions to the list as well.

10. Creep

 

Anyone and everyone that is aware of Radiohead's existence knows that "Creep" was the hit single that put these guys on the fast-track to stardom. Released in the early 90's off their debut album, Pablo Honey, "Creep" fit right in with the rest of the melancholy, alternative grunge rock that had taken over the airwaves.

9. High and Dry

Since its release, The Bends still holds true as my favorite album of all time, although many Radiohead fanatics would disagree, arguing that OK Computer was their greatest success to date. Truth be told, they're both fantastic albums, and we can thank a catchy little mellow, acoustic tune by the name of "High and Dry" for being the first single released to prove that Radiohead was not going to be contributing to the 90's one-hit wonder music pile.

 

8. Fake Plastic Trees

Another fabulous, mellow acoustic single off The Bends, except this one didn't seem to be as radio-friendly as "High and Dry". However, it still holds as a favorite for Radiohead fanatics nationwide and also was featured on the Clueless soundtrack. In addition, it also placed a spot on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

7. Karma Police

By the time "Karma Police" had crossed every radio airwave and music television broadcast nationwide, it was a proven fact that Radiohead was the one to beat. Now, they weren't just some band that had released a few catchy tunes, but they had now released two albums, each a sensational masterpiece in their own way. "Karma Police" was a classic in itself, a work of art, a stunning success.

6. Idioteque

Just when you thought the good ole' 90's alternative rock bands were getting boring and predictable, along came Kid A. Kid A gets mixed reviews from Radiohead fans, some dislike the computerized, electronic sound of the album while others think it's pure genius. Idioteque is one of the key elements of the album with its techno vibe that puts you in a hypnotic trance.

5. Jigsaw Falling Into Place

For me, I was torn between "Jigsaw" and "Reckoner" as the most compelling track off In Rainbows, but "Jigsaw" seemed to captivate the majority of the Radiohead audience. At first listen, the melody is a bit sleepy, but after a few more, the catchy beat grows on you and makes you want to "let it out".

4. Everything In Its Right Place

Now we're getting to the good stuff. "Everything In Its Right Place" is electronically mesmerizing. I suspect that the reason it's the first track on Kid A is to prepare the listeners for what they're in for. It's like taking a euphoric ride into outer space and seeing everything for the first time.

3. Paranoid Android

One of the best pieces of music ever written. Ever. I could write an entire novel about this one song. Listening to "Paranoid Android" is similar to spending six minutes and twenty-five seconds with either a manic-depressive or a brief thunderstorm. It starts out as a slow, calm melody, like gently floating down a river, and then explodes into a mass of electric riffs and chords that shoot right you like a bolt of lightning. Then, just when you think you've had enough, it slows back down to an almost choir-like chant during the "Rain Down" segment before exploding one more time. Classic. Pure genius.

2. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

As if "Paranoid Android" wasn't enough, here is yet another one of Radiohead's beautiful gems. It's hard to imagine life before "Street Spirit". The intensity, the emotion and the devastation behind it is surreal. Thom Yorke said it was "the dark tunnel without the light at the end" and trust me, that darkness shines through the overpowering emotion of the melody and vocals. Immerse your soul in love.

1. Let Down

As the cliché goes, I saved the best for last. I like to think of "Let Down" as Radiohead's best-kept secret. It wasn't one of their popular songs for some unknown reason, but once I discovered it, there was no turning back. "Let Down" is and forever will be my favorite song of all time. It is truly a beautiful work of art. Listening to it sends me on a euphoric high similar to descending a roller coaster at 300 MPH. The hopeful melody and burning emotion could instantly move any audience. By the end of the song, you feel like you've been on an emotional roller coaster and all you want to do is get back in line.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Black Star: "Black Star" is like the little brother who doesn't get as much attention as he deserves. It's a sensational rock ballad and one of the best tracks off The Bends.

Just: The Bends strikes again. I struggled with whether or not to add this to the top ten list because of its popularity among Radiohead fans, but along with "Black Star", it doesn't get as much hype as it deserves.

Pyramid Song: An eerie track that is mysteriously haunting. This track also came up frequently as a Radiohead favorite, even though it's considered more of a B-side versus a hit single.

Reckoner: While skimming through the recently released In Rainbows, "Reckoner" was the first song that really grabbed my attention. It has a dazzling, distorted cymbal pattern and a bit of a melancholy sound to it. (But then again, don't most of their tracks?) Personally, it's my favorite off the new album and I think it shows off the brilliance of the masterminds behind rock music, otherwise known as Radiohead.


And if you guys like reading about music... feel free to check out my book "Sound Bites: A Rock and Roll Love Story" available on Amazon... the link is below... I'd love to hear your feedback!


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    • profile image

      jim 4 years ago

      any list without "talk show host" is just incorrect. greatest b-side of all time, and one of the greatest songs of all tine.

    • profile image

      david 4 years ago

      MY TOP 5:

      1. paranoid android, 2. reckoner, 3. up on the ladder, 4. videotape, 5. street spirit... doing a top 10 was too difficult for me

    • profile image

      Eddo 4 years ago

      coincido totalmente con Let down, es una canción hecha a la perfección, y me resulta increible como la mente humana es capaz de hacer algo tan sublime.

    • profile image

      Michael 4 years ago

      Let Down 100%

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      max 4 years ago

      nie to see that LET DOWN is your #1... Definitely the best song ever !! It's a shame that they're not playing it live nowaday..

    • profile image

      Jarred 4 years ago

      My favorite RH song is got to be Airbag. Then, in no particular order, Iron Lung, Let Down (yes!), No Surprises, Lucky, Everything in its Right Place, Kid A, Idioteque, The Gloaming, Wolf at the Door, 15 Steps, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi...

    • profile image

      Allie 5 years ago

      No Surprises is my favorite song of all time. It's just pure magic and definitely deserves a place here. Otherwise, great list! (But IMO, Reckoner is better than Jigsaw.)

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      Mike 5 years ago

      The Tourist didn't make the list at all?! Some things were right on here, but some are way off!

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      Kurt 5 years ago

      Oh my word, I so agree with Let Down as number 1! Favourite Radiohead song by virtue of the fact that I just keep on replaying every now and then - happy, sad, hopeful, mad. Any occasion is ripe for that beautiful melody. An absolutely fascinating song. Wise choices for the rest as well, like the focus on pre-Kid A songs.

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      Mac 5 years ago

      Let

      Down, Fake Plastic Trees, Climbing Up The Walls, The National Anthem,

      Sit Down. Stand Up, A Wolf At The Door, No Surprises, Jigsaw Falling

      Into Place, Reckoner, Idioteque, There, There, Street Spirit (Fade Out),

      Staircase, Just, (Nice Dream), Lucky, Electioneering.

      Here are my favorites. Yeah there's a lot.

    • profile image

      Karen 5 years ago

      My favourite is definitely Paranoid Android. The first Radiohead song I heard and still my no.1.

      My other favourites are

      -Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,

      -Dollars & Cents,

      -2 + 2 = 5,

      -Street Spirit (Fade Out),

      -Climbing Up The Wall,

      -Idioteque,

      -Maquiladora,

      -Palo Alto,

      -Separator

      -Nude

      and too many more to list x_X

    • profile image

      Matt 5 years ago

      I think my favorite may be There There. That track just seems to sum up the sinister and emotional vibe of Radiohead. It just seems so...them. I do agree that Let Down is amazing and that is a vvveeerrrryyy close second imo.

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      whattt 5 years ago

      a pretty fair list, but i think a lot of people haven't even heard "talk show host" one of their most mesmerizing and haunting songs , check it out RH fans !

    • profile image

      peter 5 years ago

      talk show host best song ever

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      OSULaderer 5 years ago

      I agree with the bulk of your ratings and Let Down is definitely my favorite, but I think one that gets over looked far too often is Pearly.

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      Akash S 5 years ago

      nice list but i'd have optimistic subterranean homesick alien electioneering , actualy the whole ok computer album

    • profile image

      Daniel 5 years ago

      How can you choose a top 10!!! I would have problems doing a top 50!

    • profile image

      Rishabh rastogi 5 years ago

      you and whose country deserves to be in top 10

    • Cnstntgrdnr389 profile image

      Cnstntgrdnr389 5 years ago

      I've got to say that best Radiohead song has to be a tie between Street Spirit (Fade Out) and Lucky. Any list of Radiohead Songs needs to be filled primarily with Kid A tracks though.

    • danielbatista profile image

      danielbatista 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Reckoner is definitely my favorite, but do a top 10 for me is impossible, so many good songs to choose...However I like your top, it's very good, maybe swap one or two songs.

    • profile image

      Christian 6 years ago

      Let down is also my favorite one. I don't listen to Radiohead as much as I used to but I still consider this song to be there best one. There was also a moment for me when I 'got' it. The way the song is structured. The build up in the middle... the way the lyrics are repeated ("you know, you know where you are with..."). Listen to it with headphones in the dark.

    • profile image

      dude 6 years ago

      Let Down is a classic and in my opinion one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Its something how even huge Radiohead fans dont understand how good it is.

    • profile image

      BB 6 years ago

      yay for Let Down !! My favorite as well....

    • sim0n30 profile image

      sim0n30 6 years ago from Ireland

      Great hub, street spirit will always be my favourite, but i love some of their lesser known songs like gagging order, follow me around and true love waits.

    • profile image

      Jc 6 years ago

      Let Down is prob my fave song as well. I didn't think anyone liked it as much as me what a pleasnt surprise to see it at #1.

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      Ben  6 years ago

      Let sown is one of mine aswell theres just something about it, its amazing I cant figure out why its not as "big" as tracks like karma police and no suprises

    • profile image

      Sebastien 7 years ago

      Good list. I like how The Bends is well represented. I always seem to go back to that album for some reason. One of my favourites (though maybe not one of the bests) is a song from the Iron Lung EP: The Trickster. Few Radiohead songs have guitar riffs has good as this one.

    • profile image

      CJborat 7 years ago

      My list would be:

      1. Paranoid Android

      2. Everything in Its Right Place

      3. No Surprises!!!

      4. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

      5. Reckoner

      6. 2 + 2 = 5

      7. Fake Plastic Trees

      8. Jigsaw Falling into Place

      9. Pyramid Song

      10.Just

    • profile image

      ashusmrvl0790 7 years ago

      great list, although i would personally put paranoid android at 2nd or maybe even 1st. the song has an eerie presence that lasts even after the song ends, almost like a spirit.also honorable mention should also have fake plastic trees.its a great song.

    • profile image

      Paulina 7 years ago

      Listen to 'Wolf at the Door'.

      I don't know what it is about this song.. i play it on repeat and it is the highest on my play count list.

      it's something magical out of a storybook. the lyrics don't really make a lick of sense but i just love it.

      end music for a film is pretty great as well and i love jigsaw falling into place.

    • profile image

      Mike 7 years ago

      Nice work on the list. Let Down is definitely a great song but definitely not Radiohead's best. This honour goes to either Lucky, Just or Paranoid. Would swap Idioteque for Exit Music.

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      James 7 years ago

      How can you leave out True Love Waits and Nude? Number 1 would definitely be exit music, what a deliciously haunting crescendo of music and lyrics. Long live the greatest band of all time!!!

    • profile image

      serene 8 years ago

      any radiohead fan should listen to last flowers. its awesome.

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      Clive Warren 8 years ago

      Hmmm, not a single track from HTTT is strange. To me Let Down is the only let down on OK Computer, through a decent list i suppose.

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      DM 8 years ago

      Agree on Let Down. I still remember the first time I "got" Let Down. I had been listening to Radiohead and OK Computer for a while, but one day it just happened. That track is absolutely uplifting and amazing the way it builds and crescendos at the end with Thom and the background singer joining together. Tearful joy. Every time.

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      RTaveras 8 years ago from New York

      Really Great..Music i have found a new social newtwork called www.aroundtheway.com that you can upload music and their music video's and there is a section called "Classifieds" where you can sell there Stuff check out the site for more info see my blog http://bit.ly/E5XTT

    • profile image

      jojo 8 years ago

      My top 10 no real order

      Pyramid song- beautiful in every way

      like spinning plates- something magical about this one

      nice dream- I believe him

      street spirit- perfect

      harrowdown hill (even though it was only thome York)- i love this song

      Sail to the moon- makes me want to sail to the moon

      2+ 2 = 5- awesome

      a wolf at the door- dark and great

      Everything in its place- what hooked me to Radiohead

      In Rainbows (the entire CD)- the ONLY cd i have ever picked up where I enjoy every single song on it enough to listen to it over and over again.

      * this is 11-15,

      How to disappear completely deserves to be on this list.

      Motion Picture Soundtrack

      Exit music for a film

      no suprises

      The amazing sounds of orgy.

      those are my personal favorites.

    • profile image

      Laury 8 years ago

      Good taste!! I love Radiohead

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      hassan 8 years ago

      I know you gave it an honourable mention, but pyramid song must be one of the greatest tracks by radiohead, heard it on the radio late at night when i was a kid, didn't know who it at the time but never forgot it. in a way im glad its not as well known as the rest. great list all the same mate.

    • profile image

      Ryan Spence 8 years ago

      Very Wiseeeee Choices, I'd Put High And Dry First, Myself, But Brilliant List.

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      mark 8 years ago

      definitely agree with you on the whole thing!

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      yeriel 8 years ago

      house of cards really grabbed my attention on that album but i agree jigsaw really does the band justice