Radiohead’s Albums Ranked


Ayan Rasulova

Originally called On A Friday, Radiohead is an English alternative rock band that is known for their incredibly diverse and harmonic sounds across multiple albums. From the third studio concept album OK Computer’s intense and cinematic atmosphere to the soft and haunting sounds of A Moon Shaped Pool, labeling exactly what the band sounds like, or even their genre, is difficult because of the amount of variety in their discography. Despite the originality of their work, they’ve managed to maintain a standard of high quality sounds in all of their releases, even with their use of different musical mediums. Granted, some albums objectively have more quality than others, so here are all of their studio albums ranked from worst to best.

9. Pablo Honey

Starting off with the album known for the infamous “Creep”, Pablo Honey sits at the bottom of our list because of its sheer lack of originality- this release simply fails to stand in comparison with the rest of the band’s discography. Sure, it works as a generic 90s grunge album, but it doesn’t have the same experimental elements that make Radiohead Radiohead.

While Pablo Honey’s legacy is indubitably marked by the shoddy lyrics of, “But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo”, the track somehow managed to average nearly 700 million streams on Spotify. Even with this insanely successful release, the band found themselves caught in a web of controversy after being sued for borrowing elements from “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies, further proving how unoriginal this entire album is. Despite this, the song is still by far the most well known release from the band to this day, proving once again that “popular” does not necessarily equal high in quality.

8. The King of Limbs

Now, there’s experimental, and there’s overly experimental. Fans generally agree that The King of Limbs tends to be on the worse side of Radiohead albums. Sure, “Lotus Flower” has some nice vocals, but there’s a reason this is their least streamed album by far. Additionally, part of the reason this album is rated so low is because it simply isn’t influential (although it might have served as an example of how not to make an album).

7. A Moon Shaped Pool

Their latest release, AKA the Radiohead breakup album, takes a slightly different turn than their old work, consisting of almost entirely melancholy songs. Each track perfectly captures the sensation of impending doom and gut wrenching heartbreak that comes with the crumbling of a long term relationship. With unique string based sounds and an overall more modern feel, A Moon Shaped Pool is still well received by fans despite being drastically different from their previous work.

6. Kid A

Personally, I think Kid A is overrated ( in terms of how good the actual songs are). Die hard Radiohead fans will hate me for this, but I’ve always been more of an Amnesiac person myself. Don’t get me wrong- I love the range of emotions in Thom’s vocals, from “The National Anthem” to “Motion Picture Soundtrack” (I try not to tear up every time I listen to that track), but I’ve never been able to get into “Everything In Its Right Place.” Despite my personal thoughts on the album, Kid A has managed to become one of the most influential experimental rock albums of all time. With the album coming right after OK Computer, shocking millions of listeners with the alternative direction the band took, Kid A places itself higher up on our list- even with lyrics like, “Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon.”

5. Amnesiac

What many know as “Kid A, part two,” Amnesiac is on the more underrated side of the band’s discography. Despite being less known, “Pyramid Song”’s haunting vocals, “Knives Out”’s stylish melodies, and- my personal favorite- “Dollars and Cents” eccentric chords manage to add charm to this 2001 release. As great as Amnesiac is, it doesn’t have the same lasting impact as Kid A, which marked a drastic shift in the band’s sound. Still, it holds up as a great experimental album to mark their change of style.

4. Hail to the Thief

Coming in at number four, Hail to the Thief combines elements from both Kid A and OK Computer into a half-experimental-half-rock hybrid album. Besides its incredible musical production, its message- the clearly anti George W. Bush themes throughout the album- made Hail to the Thief their most political release yet. Sure, the band was no stranger to including left leaning ideologies in prior songs, such as with OK Computer’s clear themes against the plague of neoliberalism in “Electioneering”, but their sixth studio album showed an explicitly clear position against the United States unjust actions in the Middle East following the September 11th attacks.

3. OK Computer

OK Computer is Radiohead’s most popular and successful album, containing hits with insane amounts of streams like “Paranoid Android” and “No Surprises”. Like their other releases, the range of OK Computer is incredible- songs will go from deafening vocals like in “Climbing Up the Walls” to a softer, more majestic “The Tourist”. As the band’s most successful album, this album has influenced countless other popular alternative rock bands, such as Coldplay and Muse.

2. The Bends

Containing some of the most influential songs in the 90s rock scene, The Bends manages to stand out in a way like no other release: the layered guitar riffs in “Just”, the soft sounds of the underrated “Sulk”, every single track listed is a clear hit. The Bends is the foundation for Radiohead, acting as a transition from the extremely generic Pablo Honey to what was now Radiohead’s own style: It all sets up what ultimately makes the band what it is known for today.

1. In Rainbows

Radiohead’s absolute best album, In Rainbows is a perfect mixture of elements from their other releases. Opening with loud, bold OK Computer-esque songs, then ending in a softer, more tranquilizing direction with “Videotape”, this album has an impressive amount of range (not to mention it contains their best song by far, “Jigsaw Falling into Place”). While In Rainbows itself isn’t as influential as some of the band’s other albums from a musical perspective, its “pay-what-you-want” marketing tactic impacted the musical marketing landscape, serving as a commentary on the set pricing of music albums in the industry.