Tuesday, 28 May 2013

5 Of The Best Radiohead Songs

If I were to just sit and talk about Radiohead, I could, and probably would, go on for hours.  Therefore, I’m going to try to keep it to 5 of my favorite songs.  What I love about Radiohead is that their songs usually have a deep message, but they cover that message up with fancy arrangements and melodies.  They challenge the listener to do more than just listen and enjoy – but actually engage in discussion.

1. High and Dry

“High and Dry” is one of the most relaxing songs I know.  It’s ideal for those days when you’re sitting in the garden with nice weather and a glass of wine.  The phrase “high and dry” originally referred to beached ships.  The idea of being stranded alone with no chance of being found discovered or recovered.   This song comes from The Bends, released in 1995.  This is when fame was hitting them pretty quickly.  So perhaps it is a reference to being famous and surrounded by adoring fans, yet still feeling isolated and alone. 

2. Lucky

This is my all time favorite Radiohead song.  My excitement over the use of my name in the song was pretty quickly diminished when I heard the following lyrics, describing a war-themed, tragic plane crash.  However, I think there’s a lot of hope in this song. This might just be due to the ironic title, but to me it sounds like a depiction of someone who is being constantly pushed down, yet continues to get back up with naïve optimism.   What I particularly love about this song is that genius of it is all in Thom Yorke’s vocals.  The soft guitar sets the scene and then the sheer emotion and power in the vocals makes it brilliant.

3. Airbag

Anyone who has heard even one Radiohead song knows that Thom Yorke’s best quality is not his enunciation.  I had to listen to this song about 20 times before I gave up and looked up the lyrics.  Seriously, props to anyone who understood the words “interstellar” or “universe” during their first listen!  This song comes from OK Computer, which was a concept album about the increasing presence of technology and machines in our lives.  Clearly, the song describes a near death experience that resulted in survival due to the intervening of technology (i.e. an airbag).  This song was initially performed with the title “An Airbag Saved My Life” right after the dance hit “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”.  In fact, guitarist Jonny Greenwood explained, "Airbag is a classic example of Colin and Phil saying, 'Let's make it sound like DJ Shadow.' But unfortunately - or fortunately - it doesn't, because we missed again.”

4. 2 + 2 = 5

To me, this song deals purely with disillusionment.  I’m sure it could be related to political disillusionment, but it seems to explain a feeling of being isolated and alone: “I'll stay home forever, where two and two always makes a five”.  It sounds like Yorke is begging people to open their eyes and not just accept everything they hear.  That he thinks we’re living in a world that doesn’t add up and that we should start paying attention.

5. Karma Police

This song discusses the circle of karma, but in a self-deprecating way.  Yorke says “karma police” first, implying that he is speaking to them about himself.  He discusses how he lost himself and did something morally wrong, with the main theme being insanity.  The song centers on acoustic guitar and piano, which is my favorite combination of instruments.  There’s something that Radiohead just pulls off with this song that I think a lot of other bands couldn’t do.

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