Wednesday, May 25, 2011

90s Music: Radiohead

Radiohead started their rise to stardom in the 90s. With the release of under-rated "Pablo Honey," no one could have predicted where the band's natural evolution would have taken them. Today, we'll focus on my favorite 90s songs by Radiohead that I love. I'm not taking into account whether the songs were singles, hits, or even b-sides. Hopefully I can do this band justice.

"You" - The opening track on "Pablo Honey." Hello world, meet Johnny Greenwood and his dirty guitar licks. Just try to listen to this song and not rock out. The simple intro guitar riff breaks into solid alternative rock.

"Anyone Can Play Guitar" - "I wanna be, wanna be Jim Morrison!" Most people can relate to that. This is just another great example of what alternative rock should be. Hey, I love "Kid A" as much as the next guy, but there's nothing wrong with this type of straightforward rock.

"I Can't" - I still find myself warming up for shows, occasionally, by playing this opening riff. I know most people can relate to the lyrics when they get into a rut. The juxtaposition of the major key pop rock with the sad lyrics is what gives this song such a great balance.

"Just" - BEST VIDEO EVER. What did the guy whisper?! The world will never know.

"My Iron Lung" - At first listen I thought this song was relatively similar to "Creep," but when you listen a little more carefully, this song tops it in a number of ways. The guitar riff to start is clean yet complicated songwriting. The slick riff transitioning to the chorus is perfect rock. The chorus itself is dirty and I still don't know exactly what the meaning of the lyrics are, but it doesn't matter. Just rocks.

"Black Star" - Probably my favorite Radiohead song. Check out this acoustic version.

"Killer Cars" - Such a fantastic b-side. It's almost unreal this isn't on a regular LP, but it makes sense that Radiohead has more awesome songs than room on albums.

"Airbag" - When I got "OK Computer" in 1997, I had no idea what to expect. "Airbag" opened the album up and I knew it was going to be a great ride. The drum and bass working together in the middle of the song is so phenomenally impressive I can't even stand it.

"Paranoid Android" - This video is quite trippy as well. Not up to the "Just" level, but extremely... ummm... interesting? The song itself goes through movements, almost like a classical music piece, that meld together many different styles of music. It is a modern masterpiece.

I love Radiohead. It's obvious that "The Bends" is my favorite record by them, but all of their music is addictive. Call out some of your favorite Radiohead tunes from the 90s and as always, feel free to debate the merits of my list.


Brandon said...

Nice picks, Black Star is one of my favorite Radiohead songs of all time. Although at first I thought he was singing "Christ is coming" at the end, and I had a brief moment of panic where I though Radiohead might be an undercover Christian band.

The Bends is another favorite song, and "The planet is a gun boat in a sea of fear / And where are you?" is one of my favorite lyrics ever.

Street Spirit is also really good. Every time I'm in Natomas, the blocks of two story McMansions crushed together make me think of "Rows of houses, all bearing down on me."

I always liked Planet Telex, but for some reason learning that Thom Yorke was lying on the floor hammered out of his mind and recorded that song in one take took it to a whole new level.

Fake Plastic Trees is up there with Lightning Crashes for best typical mid-90's, build slow and finish strong alt rock song.

OK Computer is tied with In Rainbows for my favorite Radiohead album. Airbag, Paranoid Android, Exit Music, Let Down, Karma Police, Lucky...basically every song on that album is great.

GMoney said...

Since I don't have anything nice to say, I won't say anything at all.

Tony B. said...

Excellent analysis of Natomas, Brandon. The Bends is my favorite followed by OK Computer. I don't have problems with any of their albums, but I still haven't found much that excites me about the newest album.

G$- no love for Radiohead at all? Not even their great 90s catalog? I understand if you don't follow them from 2000 on, but the 90s stuff is solid.