Monday, November 05, 2012

Ranking Radiohead albums (so far)

If you know me, then you know that I am a Radiohead fanboy.  Well, I just read an article from Paste Magazine which ranks the 8 albums that the band has released so far from worst to best.  I actually agree with a lot of the list, but thought that it would be a good idea to get my thoughts on the matter down in writing.  So here's my ranking...

 
8. Pablo Honey
I think most people would agree with this decision - there's not much interesting about this album.
7. Hail to the Thief
I actually really liked this album when it came out, and (being the eternal presentist) would have put it above The Bends back then.  While this album probably contains about as many quality songs as some others on this list, nine years have made me realize that there are simply too many songs on this album, and a lot of them are pretty so-so.
6. The King of Limbs
Again, being the presentist that I am, I put this album at #3 of my list of top albums of 2011.  I don't necessarily think that this ranking was too high, so it must say something about my affinity for the band if this album only comes in at #6 when compared to their others.
5. Amnesiac
The toughest decision for me when putting this list together is probably deciding between this album and TKOL for #5.  I find Amnesiac to be pretty inconsistent, and there are definitely a couple of tracks that I skip over when I'm listening to it.  But the highs of "Pyramid Song" and "I Might Be Wrong" are above those of pretty much any song (save perhaps "Little By Little") on the other album, so this one barely squeezes ahead.
4. The Bends
For a while there I didn't give this album enough credit because I got caught up in all the experimental goodness that the band was trying out in the 2000s.  However, I have to admit that there are just too many really good songs on this album, even if they aren't breaking any barriers.
3. In Rainbows
Some may question whether this album can go punch-for-punch with The Bends, but I think that it does much more artistically, so it gets the nod.  It's also probably the best mix of the many sounds of Radiohead in one single album.  Bonus points for the pay-what-you-want pricing scheme they used to sell the album upon release.  
2. OK Computer
This is the album that got me into the band, and what an introduction it was.  There are loads of classic songs on this album, so it's no wonder that it routinely tops critics' lists of the best albums in recent memory.  So I don't get any heartburn when some people say that this is RH's best album.  It's just not my favorite.
1. Kid A
There was a time when people lined up at record stores on Monday night so that they could get a highly anticipated new release at midnight.  That is what I did for this album (well, maybe not lined up, but at least showed up at midnight) because I had fallen in love with OK Computer and then, to a lesser extent, The Bends.  And when I first listened to the album I thought..."W...T...F?!  Is this music?!"  The only song that I could say that I liked the first time around was "Optimistic", so I clung to that on subsequent listens.  But the more I listened to the album, the more I grew to love it...even more than the others.  There's much more that I could bore you with regarding this album, but suffice it to say that it is my favorite album *ever*.
In reality, I'm not absolutely certain about this ranking - it's kind of a "top two or three, the rest, and then Pablo Honey" thing in my mind.  But the relative ranking of "the rest" may be pretty stable going forward, especially since I've had some time since the band last put out an album.  We'll have to see where any future albums rank if they release more...

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