In what order should you listen to Radiohead’s discography?

Radiohead is one of the most influential bands of the 1990s to the present. Formed in Oxfordshire in England, by now known over the world. The band is seen as pioneering in the truest sense of the word.

Still, it is perfectly possible you never got a chance to discover them. As new fan, we know the discography can be daunting at first.

In this post, we try to give a recommended listening order for Radiohead’s discography. We also try to answer some other basic questions.

In what order do you listen to Radiohead’s discography?

Start with OK Computer and Kid A

OK Computer will generally be seen as Radiohead’s most popular album. It is Radiohead’s third album. It lifted the band to international recognition in 1997.

It is an alternative rock album, with ambient, avant-garde, and electronic influences. The ‘speed’ of the 1990s inspired Thom Yorke’s lyrics. The feeling of the tracks is described as ‘end-of-Millenium-blues’.

OK Computer has the most songs that you’ll likely know already. Think about Paranoid Android or Karma Police. The songs are able to grab your attention at first listen. Next, it also represents a good foretaste of the whole discography. That is why we advise this as a first listen.

Next up is Kid A released in 2000. Kid A is their fourth album. It is considered a masterpiece by many of the dedicated fans of Radiohead.

The album is a departure from the mainstream success of OK Computer. It can not be called alternative rock and has influences from electronic, krautrock, and classical music. The lyrics are inspired by not being able to connect to the world. It is Radiohead’s most experimental album. First, the album created a lot of division among listeners. Now, the departure from mainstream success is recognized as brilliant.

The record is not very accessible. Still, we advise this album as a second listen. Why? Because the album represents ‘we do what we feel like, instead of chasing success. Because if you listen to this, you have seen the spectrum of Radiohead’s style. You have seen their most influential work. From alt-rock to electronic.

If you didn’t like one of these two first, then Radiohead probably is not for you currently. We would advise you not to continue with other albums for now. If you did like (one of) them, continue with one of the choices below!

If you liked both equally, listen to In Rainbows and Hail to the Thief

You didn’t have a real preference between OK Computer and Kid A? Then we recommend to continue listening to the blends of alt-rock and electronic that the previous albums represent.

In Rainbows is Radiohead’s seventh album, released in 2007. It is the third album considered a classic among fans, together with OK Computer and Kid A.

The album qua style is accessible. It can be considered one of Radiohead’s lightest records. The lyrics are less sad than other albums, sometimes even fun. It is a casual album that you can listen to often.

Hail to the Thief is a ‘return to rock’ album after Kid A (and Amnesiac). It is their sixth album, released in 2003.

The album is their angry politics album. The reason we recommend listening to this after In Rainbows is because it tends to be a little long. Still, the style is in between OK Computer and Kid A.

if you preferred OK Computer, listen to The Bends and Pablo Honey

Do you prefer OK Computer? Then we would advise deviating towards their alt-rock albums first. The following albums don’t have the experimentalism of Kid A.

The Bends is Radiohead’s second studio album, released in 1995. This made the band successful in their home country, England.

It can be considered a standard 90s alternative rock album. The lyrics are personal and melancholic. This album was the starting point for the creation of a bigger fanbase.

Pablo Honey is Radiohead’s debut album, containing the famous hit ‘Creep’. The record was released in 1993.

Pablo Honey is seen as a standard early 90s alt-rock album. Fans see this as their weakest album, although critical for the whole story of Radiohead. The band was in its infancy, give them a break.

if you preferred Kid A, listen to Amnesiac and The King of Limbs

Do you prefer Kid A? Then we’ll send you in the direction of experimental albums of Radiohead first.

Amnesiac, the fifth album, was released in 2001. The tracks were recorded at the same time as Kid A. Radiohead stressed that it can not be seen as a collection of B-sides from Kid A.

The album is likewise experimental. If all tracks of Amnesiac and Kid A would be combined into one album, it would be too dense. Still, it is more accessible than Kid A. it contains jazz influences.

The King of Limbs is from 2011. It is the eighth album of Radiohead. The promotion first was limited, the album could be downloaded from their website. It is their shortest record.

The tracks contain a lot of loops. Rhythm and percussion play a big role in the album. The album is not really popular among fans. Some state that it is weaker than Pablo Honey. Others say it is underrated.

A Moon Shaped Pool

A Moon Shaped Pool is their ninth album, released in 2016. The record is their emotional heaviest record to date.

The album contains prominent string arrangements. The lyrics concern dealing with feelings of loss and mourning. The wife of lead singer Thom Yorke died in 2016.

Related questions:

Should I listen to Radiohead’s albums chronologically?

Listening to Radiohead’s album chronologically we definitely recommended it at least once.

We would caution listening chronologically as a new fan though. The earlier albums are different in style from more recent works. You could have a look at our answer to the question In what order do you listen to Radiohead’s discography?

If you are already a fan of the band, you will be able to see growth throughout the discography. Our appreciation for the band only increased, seeing the progress from album to album. Immerse yourself in the musical journey.

What is Radiohead’s best album?

Currently, Radiohead’s 3 most popular albums are OK Computer, Kid A, and In Rainbows. Fans often consider these as their classical albums.

Still, everyone has personal preferences and other works are sometimes underrated.

How many albums did Radiohead make?

Radiohead made 9 studio albums. We recommend a specific order to listen to them here.

Besides, they made music for movies, remastered older works, and have side projects. Some of the band’s members released solo albums.

What genre is Radiohead?

Radiohead’s genre is rather tricky to classify and changes from album to album. Fans would say they are a genre on their own. We know it is personal.

We suggest: OK Computer, The Bends, and Pablo Honey are alternative rock. In Rainbows, Hail to the Thief, and A Moon Shaped Pool could be called indie rock. Kid A, Amnesiac, and The King of Limbs have clear electronic influences.

What bands are similar to Radiohead?

The National, Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins, and Muse for the alternative rock genre. Aphex Twin and The Acid for the electronic genre.

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