The Most Underated Song From Each Radiohead Album
RANKING THE MOST UNDERRATED SONG FROM EACH RADIOHEAD ALBUM
Plucking the most under-appreciated gem from each abundantly-appreciated album
By: Sam Eeckhout
25 years is a long time to be in a band. To be in one of the most successful, critically acclaimed and creatively sustained bands of all-time for that long is incomprehensible. Radiohead’s Pablo Honey was released 25 years ago and with such a dense discography full of countless hits, it can be easy to overlook a few here and there.
Sure, “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Paranoid Android” deserve every seven-minute session you give them. Sure, “Creep”, “Karma Police” and “Just” are melodic masterpieces that rightfully tear you away again and again from giving “Like Spinning Plates” a fair listen. And sure, it’s a stretch to call any song by the brilliant minds of Radiohead “underrated” or to comb through the 160+ songs released by the band and decide which of them isn’t getting a fair shake.
But, that’s exactly what we did. And here they are.
February 22nd, 1993
“Blow Out” saw Radiohead taking their first step outside of their comfort zone, concluding Pablo Honey. The song starts with a geeky, stuttering guitar structure and slowly morphs into loud, cascading euphoria. Halfway through, the drums come alive, the guitar squeaks and wails, and the song is unstoppable. “Blow Out” blows up, and confidently ends the album and the first chapter of Radiohead. Pablo Honey gets beat up often, and in 1993 it was pretty much swallowed up whole by the grunge movement. Although the band’s brilliance wasn’t sustained on the album, “Blow Out” concludes it perfectly, signalling the birth of an unstoppable musical force.
Close Second: “You”
March 13th, 1995
The Bends saw Radiohead take a modest step towards writing darker tunes while maintaining a guitar-focused alternative rock album. Choruses still had structure, Thom Yorke was still somewhat positive about things, and the drums were still studio recorded and organic sounding. While “Street Spirit” (which had one of the coolest music videos ever), “High and Dry”, “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Just” became mega-hits, “Black Star” is a seldom mentioned track. The guitar sound is a little dated, but an impressive vocal melody and a soaring chorus make it a captivating song.
Close Second: “Bulletproof…I Wish I Was”
June 16th, 1997
Things exploded for Radiohead with OK Computer and nearly every note is immaculate. With so many masterpieces on one album, finding an underrated one is tricky. However, “Electioneering” is an absolute beast of a rock song that gets overshadowed by more complex and mesmerizing classics. “Electioneering” is almost jarringly direct, by Radiohead standards. With zero fat to cut, it is compact and complete with an ear-melting guitar solo, reminding us Radiohead knows how to give us straight rock when they want to.
Close second: “Subterranean Homesick Alien”
October 2nd, 2000
Hidden in the middle of one of the most ballsy albums of all-time is “In Limbo”. One of the few “conventional” rock songs on the album, “In Limbo” subtly mutates and hypnotizes listeners. Lyrically, touching on themes of loneliness, the song takes its time dissolving into a sonic liquid that washes over and consumes you. Almost as if the album is a self-aware being, it absorbs the rock song back into the electronic enigma that is Kid A.
Close Second: "Optimistic"
"Life in a Glass House"
June 5th, 2001
Complete with full orchestral accompaniment, “Life in a Glass House” is an eerie and emotional finale to Amnesiac. Melding jazz piano, rock chords, squealing horns and Yorke’s textbook wailing vocals, “Life in a Glass House” is a full-blown experience. Buried at the back-end of a brilliant album (that is not without its missteps), the song can sometimes be wrongly overlooked by fans. It is completely different than anything else on the album. It is intense, memorable and fearless.
Close second: "Dollars and Cents"
Hail to the Thief
June 9th, 2003
Hail to the Thief is a painfully robust album. Easily the longest in their repertoire (56 minutes), it’s easy to gloss over some real gems. “Scatterbrain” is this gem. The 13th of 14 songs, it is an exceptionally delicate song, with gentle, staccato guitar arpeggios buoying the howling vocals of Yorke. The band shows restraint and patience, never letting their ambition and musical ability distract anything away from the simple beauty of the song's soul.
Close second: "Sail to the Moon"
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place"
October 10th, 2007
The seventh album from Radiohead is a tightly knit 10-song 42-minute album, and one of the warmest in their discography. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” has Yorke showing a “normal” side of himself, musing about drunken nights back in his university days. Sonically, the song is dark and soars into a frenetic pace. Impressive (as always) guitars anchor the toe-tapping and urgent song.
Close second: House of Cards
the king of limbs
"Little by Little"
February 18th, 2011
In the top third of a succinct 38 minutes, “Little by Little” is a sinister sounding Radiohead tune, performing like an extension of “Knives Out” from Amnesiac. Jangling drum loops suck you into its vibe, Yorke’s vocals go higher than normal, and the song becomes transfixing. Sounding as if it could crumble at any moment, “Little by Little” walks the line between fragile and ominous with its classic Radiohead aesthetic.
Close second: Separator
A Moon Shaped Pool
May 8th, 2016
Let’s get this out of the way, “True Love Waits” is the best song on the album. But, “Decks Dark” is vastly the most under-appreciated. Drawing you close with its sparsity, it’s Yorke and his piano at the forefront. But like most great Radiohead songs, it slow brews and rumbles into an intense and glorious art piece. Complete with an eerie and haunting choir and understated guitar work, the song leads you to a place of comfort only to transition its course into a whole new direction. The final two minutes are hypnotizing chaos, teasing your ears with complex and intricate guitar effects and stuttering drums.
Close second: The Numbers
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