Earlier this year, Pitchfork readers placed three Radiohead albums in the top six of the People’s List, a readers poll of the best albums of the 15 years Pitchfork has been publishing. Topping the list was OK Computer, with Kid A in the second spot, In Rainbows at number six and for good measure, Amnesiac (!) rounded out the top 20 and Hail to the Thief (!!) finished off the top 40. Suffice to say, people – at least Pitchfork people – like their Radiohead.
As for me, I definitely have a preference for early Radiohead. Pablo Honey is a fine album and The Bends (published before Pitchfork came to be) and OK Computer are very good albums, but after that? Yeesh. Just reading reviews and descriptions of Kid A, I thought it would be something I would like, but by and large, not so much. Amnesiac was even worse. At that point, they pretty much lost me.
But as the lead single from OK Computer, “Paranoid Android” still stands out as one of the band’s finest moments for Radiohead fans of all stripes. After my experience with Kid A, I’ve become wary of writer’s descriptions of Radiohead’s music, but Simon Williams’s NME description of the song as “not unlike ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ being played backwards by a bunch of Vietnam vets high on Kings Cross-quality crack” is pretty great. And hey, if that doesn’t sound like something that works for you, you’ll like the tune anyway, because it’s fantastic.