Music / Radiohead

I'm a reasonable man, get off my case. note 

"High up above, aliens hover
making home movies for the folks back home
of all these weird creatures
who lock up their spirits
drill holes in themselves
and live for their secrets."
Radiohead, "Subterranean Homesick Alien"

Radiohead is an Alternative Rock group from England. Before they were Radiohead, they were called On a Friday, this being the only day of the week they were allowed to rehearse at school. Originally your usual type of alt-rock band, the sound on their early albums (Pablo Honey, The Bends) gave way to more ambitious albums that incorporated spacey rock (OK Computer) and experimental electronic sounds (Kid A, Amnesiac) before finding something of a happy medium (Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows, The King Of Limbs). Long story short, every album is a New Sound Album.

The members have also put out solo albums (which have gone on to have less success than the main band's work). Singer, principal songwriter, and frontman Thom Yorke has two albums, the first of the two receiving a Grammy Award nomination, as well as being part of another band called Atoms for Peace, working alongside people such as Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and frequent Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood has found success outside the band scoring films such as Bodysong and There Will Be Blood. He also composed the score for the film adaptation of Norwegian Wood, in addition to We Need to Talk About Kevin. In 2012, he scored another Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master, to great acclaim. Drummer Philip Selway began pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter in 2010, with two albums already under his belt.

The band is known for its anti-establishment lyrics and, since Kid A, rejecting much of the standard promotion forms of the industry. Most notably, the band opted to promote Kid A (which was highly anticipated after the success of OK Computer) with a series of one-minute long viral videos featuring snippets of each song from the album. Furthermore, the group opted to allow fans to name their own price for the right to download their album In Rainbows online off of their website.

In 2011, the band ambushed fans and industry followers again by announcing their album The King of Limbs less than a week prior to its actual release date. Then they once again surprised their fans by releasing it one day earlier. In other words: it's out, what are you waiting for?

In 2012, Jack White confirmed that Radiohead had recorded some new material at his studio.

In February 2015, Selway stated that the band had worked on a new album during the end of 2014, and had plans of continuing work in March 2015. That same month, Jonny said that the album showcased the band "working in limits" and using "very old and very new technology". The upcoming album, given the nickname LP9, is scheduled for a highly anticipated release in 2016.

On Christmas Day 2015, Radiohead released "Spectre", which was written for the James Bond film of the same name, but ultimately rejected.

Radiohead's artwork is quite weird. The website for the man responsible for most of that artwork, Stanley Donwood, is just as odd. Thom's Twitter might be odder than both of these things. (Can't say the same about Jonny, Ed, or Philip though.)

Band members:

  • Thom Yorke: Vocals, guitar, keyboards, "laptop"
  • Jonny Greenwood: Guitar, keyboards, ondes Martenot, "laptop"
  • Colin Greenwood: Bass
  • Ed O'Brien: Guitar, backing vocals
  • Phil Selway: Drums

Non-members who have had a major impact on Radiohead's sound and image:
  • Nigel Godrich: Producer of every album since OK Computer and has been involved with the band since he was hired as a mixing engineer for The Bends. Considered to be so important to the band's sound that he is considered to be the sixth member, similar to how George Martin was one of the numerous people given the title of "The Fifth Beatle".
  • Stanley Donwood: Artist responsible for every Radiohead-related piece of artwork (album covers, liner notes, posters) since the 1994 My Iron Lung EP. Yorke often collaborates with Donwood, usually under the pseudonym "Dr. Tchock".

Studio albums:

You can now vote for your favourite Radiohead album by heading over to the Best Album crowner.

  • Drill (1992)
  • Itch (1994)
  • My Iron Lung (1994, doubles as the single for "My Iron Lung")
  • Running from Demons (1997, doubles as the Japanese release of their single "No Surprises")
  • Airbag / How Am I Driving? (1997, doubles as the single for "Airbag")
  • I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings (2001)
  • COM LAG (2plus2isfive) (2004)
  • TKOL RMX 1234567 (2011)

This is what you'll get when you trope with us:

  • Adorkable: Thom Yorke has shown some shades of this.
  • Adult Fear: Hail to the Thief as a whole was motivated by this – it directly followed both 9/11 and the birth of Thom Yorke's son. Clear-cut examples from the album include "A Wolf at the Door" and "I Will".
  • Affectionate Parody: "Permanent Daylight" is commonly believed to be a parody of Sonic Youth.
  • After the End: The "Pyramid Song" video.
  • Album Title Drop:
    • "2 + 2 = 5" has "All Hail to the Thief, all hail to the thief, but I'm not."
      • HTTT was actually slated to be released under the title of The Gloaming, but the band found the title to be "too prog rock" and instead picked a line from "2 + 2 = 5" while the original title was relegated to an Either/Or Title for the album. However, in this sense, there is a second instance of this trope in the track called "The Gloaming", which has "This is the gloaming" as its final line.
    • "The Bends", quite obviously, drops the same title of the album.
    • In the bridge of "Reckoner", the rising voices in the background are saying "In Rainbows". Once you realize this the song becomes absolutely hypnotizing.
    • A barely audible one for Pablo Honey appears in the song "How Do You?" – the album was named after part of a Prank Call by the comedy group The Jerky Boys, and the relevant quote ("Pablo, honey? Please come to Florida!") appears as Spoken Word in Music near the end of the song.
    • Near the start of "Everything in Its Right Place", you can hear a distortion of Thom's voice saying "Kid A" twice. It sounds the same played backwards too.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Averted with Philip Selway, who is more subdued than would be expected. In fact, he's released a solo album that consists overwhelmingly of soft ballads that are quite light on percussion (and another is on the way).
  • And I Must Scream: The ending of the video for "There There" has Thom turned into a tree with a permanent screaming expression on it.
  • Animated Music Video: "Paranoid Android", "Pyramid Song", "Go to Sleep", "There There", (partially) and a lot of ''Kid A'''s "blips".
  • Arc Number: 10 for In Rainbows: A ten letter title, ten tracks, tens prominent in the album art and in promotional material, and was announced ten days before release. All of this indicates a link to OK Computer, released ten years to the day before In Rainbows. Popular theory is that the two albums are companion pieces, released ten years apart.
    • Thus culminating in the "01 And 10" playlist. Which, unsurprisingly, sounds even better if you set a 10 second crossfade on your player.
    • 15 also seems to be a minor one, appearing in several songs such as "15 Step", "Climbing Up the Walls", and "Just".
  • Arc Words: Interestingly enough, the lyrics for most tracks on Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief became this. Lyrics from all three albums appeared cryptically (and usually slightly altered) in the the Radiohead website's "maze" section; phrases that would appear in Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief appeared in the Kid A hidden booklet; certain lines from Amnesiac showed up in the I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings case.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Thom's singing on "Nude" and "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" purposely sounds quite... sensual.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "Paranoid Android":
    The crackle of pigskin
    The dust and the screaming
    The yuppies networking.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • The ending of the "Pyramid Song" music video, after the protagonist, apparently the sole survivor of a Earth-wrecking flood, performs a Heroic Suicide to rejoin his family.
    • "Motion Picture Soundtrack", the concluding track on Kid A, has a very angelic feel to it, accompanied by harp arrangements later in the song, with the song's final line being "I will see you in the next life." Additionally, there's another track hidden in the song's 4 minutes of silence which seems to represent the aforementioned "next life".
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • Everybody sings along to the second verse of "Idioteque".
    • The audience supplies the claps for "We Suck Young Blood."
    • The audience regularly sings the "for a minute there, I lost myself" section of "Karma Police" just as loud, if not louder, than Thom does. Here's an example from Glastonbury in 2003.
    • "Creep", of course.
    • "Weird Fishes."
  • Auto-Tune:
    • In "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box". It's meant to sound as cold and robotic as possible.
    • For "Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors", Thom spoke the words and applied autotune with ridiculous pitch-shifting settings to create a disorienting effect.
    • "Kid A" qualifies for this too, though it's a slight subversion — it's actually Thom speaking into a vocoder and Jonny creating the melody with an ondes Martenot. Thom's voice is distorted almost to the point of incomprehension, allegedly in order to distance himself from the brutal and horrible subject matter.
    • Used to oddly beautiful effect in "Codex (Illum Sphere RMX)" and "Little by Little (Caribou RMX)".
    • A vocoder is used on the backing vocals of "Sit Down. Stand Up".
  • B-Side:
    • The My Iron Lung EP consists of outtakes from Pablo Honey.
    • Airbag / How Am I Driving? has B-sides from OK Computer.
    • The semi-bootleg CD set Towering Above The Rest contains every B-side they made before In Rainbows, along with live performances, remixes, soundtrack contributions, collaborations, covers, side projects, and combinations thereof.
    • Continuing the trend, the band released a 12" single of "Supercollider" and "The Butcher," two King of Limbs B-sides, for Record Store Day 2011.
    • Quite a few ("Talk Show Host", "Cuttooth", "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy") are more popular with the fans than some of the songs released on the albums.
  • Bald of Awesome: Philip Selway.
    • Clive Deamer of Portishead, who combines forces with Phil to create an awesome drumming duo for the TKOL songs live. Fans joke about Radiohead cloning their bald drummer.
  • Band of Relatives: Jonny and Colin are brothers.
  • Bishōnen: Jonny Greenwood (especially in his younger years... man, that androgynous style really used to be quite in fashion in the early-to-mid 90s).
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Modified Bear logo for Kid A.
    • The backstory makes it even worse: They are genetically modified teddy bears that are bent on killing everybody.
  • Bi the Way; Colin Greenwood:
    "Well, yeah, I had a couple of flings at college with some guys. But my girlfriend knows about them, so it's all right. She doesn't like me hanging out with her gay friends in London too much, just in case I get tempted!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quite a few of the albums end on a bittersweet note.
    • OK Computer ends with the one-two Tear Jerker punch of "Lucky" and "The Tourist", which provide a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and resolve the tension and fear that pervade the rest of the album.
    • Kid A ends with "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and a hidden track that seems to represents Heaven or 'the next life.'
    • The final song on In Rainbows is "Videotape", which, despite being a heartbreakingly sad song, ends with the lyrics: "today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen."
  • Body Horror: The video for "There There". It's quite excruciating to see Thom turned into a tree.
  • Book Ends: OK Computer begins and ends with a car crash: "The Tourist", which closes the album, describes the events leading up to it from the perspective of a bystander, and "Airbag," which opens it, describes the man driving the car's celebration after surviving the crash.
    • The music video for "Karma Police" begins and ends with a shot of the empty back seat of a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • "Molasses" surreptitiously slips in mentions of genocide and starving waitresses throughout the otherwise harmless-sounding lyrics.
    • "Morning Bell" is also a great example, as the lyrics sound completely harmless, then all of a sudden: "Cut the kids in haaallfff..."
      • It gets worse when you realize what the song is about (divorce.)
  • Breather Episode: "Treefingers" has this role on Kid A, serving as an ambient interlude sandwiched between a depressing ballad that concludes the first half and a straight-up hard rocker that kicks off the second half.
  • British Teeth: Thom. He even says he was nicknamed "Jack-o-Lantern" in high school due to missing nine teeth.
  • Broken Record:
    • "And the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops, and the rain drops" ad infinitum. ("Sit Down. Stand Up")
    • "[Wo]-men first and the children, -men first and the children, -men first, -men first and the children" in "Idioteque".
    • "Round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round" in "Morning Bell".
    • "Everything in Its Right Place". All of it.
    • "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case, get off my case, get off my case" from "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box".
    • "You have not been paying attention, paying attention, paying attention" from "2 + 2 = 5".
  • Brown Note:
    • The music video for "Just" begins with a man lying down in the middle of the street and refusing to budge. As people gather, they ask him (all the dialogue being in subtitles) why he's lying there, and after refusing over and over again, he finally caves in. The camera zooms in on his mouth as he's speaking, but with the subtitles suddenly removed, the audience has no idea what he's saying. The final scene of the video is of all the people around him lying on the ground in the same posture, his words presumably having had the exact same effect on them as on him.
      • The closeup has him repeating "God help me, I'll tell you." and it's implied that he's actually saying it during the shot of Radiohead looking out the mirror.
    • The Kid A album as a whole. While never being outwardly scary, it has a very eerie, nihilistic, and wrong atmosphere. And it gets worse the more you listen to it.
  • Call Back:
    • The "no no no no no" Madness Mantra in "A Wolf at the Door" may be a callback to "A Punch Up at a Wedding".
    • "Life in a Glasshouse," the final track on Amnesiac, contains the line "packed like frozen food and battery hens." This creates a nice sort of symmetry — the first track is "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box".
  • Careful with That Axe:
    • Thom's rather unsettling distorted shriek at the end of "Climbing Up the Walls."
    • From "2 + 2 = 5":
    • Thom's yell at the beginning of "Cuttooth."
    • In this memorable live performance of "Anyone Can Play Guitar", at the second verse Thom takes the "anywhere" in the "and I don't see no confusion anywhere" line and screams it, before just violently screaming at the camera. The zooms on his face don't help.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Name-dropped in "Like Spinning Plates" from Amnesiac.
    And this just feels like spinning plates
    I'm living in cloud cuckoo land.
  • Common Time: An odd example; most of their songs are in 4/4 or 6/8 time, but the immensely complicated drum patterns (particularly on The King of Limbs) and very strange rhythms ("Videotape", "Spectre" and especially "Pyramid Song") make it difficult to tell this.
  • Concept Album:
    • To many, OK Computer qualifies since it has lots of paranoid insight on 21st century life, although the band denies it.
    • Kid A and Amnesiac are suspects, too. The theorizing stems mostly from Thom's suggestion that the former could be about the first human clone, but he denies any intentional meaning. The two albums are clearly counterparts with similar themes (they were recorded at the same time) and it doesn't hurt the concept album theory that the genetically modified bear characters recurred throughout the "blips" of Kid A and Amnesiac, and a track on Amnesiac was named after them ("Hunting Bears.")
      • Thom has also said that "something traumatic" happened during Kid A and that Amnesiac is "trying to piece together what has happened." Both albums feature artwork of forest fires; for Kid A it's in the distance, while Amnesiac's perspective is from within the forest.
    • Hail to the Thief's political undertones/overtones also make it a candidate.
    • The King of Limbs is named after an ancient tree near Oxford, and many of the song lyrics and titles ("Bloom", "Morning Mr. Magpie", "Lotus Flower") make references to the natural world.
    • There's a joke running around that any Radiohead album can be construed as a concept album by the fans, no matter the band's actual intentions.
  • Country Matters: Thom reserved this for a heckler at a live performance, where he merely told them off by saying, "Shut up, you cunt."
  • Cover Version: Quite a few rare and appropriately eclectic ones, including Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better", Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy", Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl", and The Smiths' "The Headmaster Ritual".
    • Radiohead themselves were covered by Diego Luna in the film The Book of Life. Despite the film taking place in 1920, sensitive guitarist Manolo uses "Creep" as his "I Want" Song, albeit In the Style of... Mexican norteño or cojunto music.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Thom has been known to sing an eerie, slowed-down version of the chorus of REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It" as an intro to "Everything in Its Right Place". He does not sound fine.
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • "Fitter Happier". It's also a Machine Monotone.
    • Also "Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors".
    • "Kid A" and "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" both qualify, since they were distorted heavily by Auto-Tune and thus sound emotionless and cold (which is the point).
  • Dark Reprise: "Bloom (Mark Pritchard RMX)" for "Bloom". and "Separator (Anstam RMX Part II)" for "Separator (Anstam RMX)."
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: "Thinking About You".
    • Possibly "Nude", depending on your interpretation.
      • The video asserts this approach. It's a rather unsexy performance-as-masturbation allegory, complete with feather ejaculate. Yes, really.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The videos for "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", and "Lotus Flower".
  • Deranged Animation: The "Paranoid Android" video! It was made by the creator of Robin.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The Bends is an album that goes on and on about the emptiness (ex: "Fake Plastic Trees"), nothingness (ex: "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was"), and futility (ex: "Street Spirit") of life.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil:
    • Counterexample. Their 2000 album, Kid A was available for streaming from their website before its official release, and their 2007 album In Rainbows was released for sale on a "pay-what-you-want" system, but they've since indicated that they will not pursue it further.
    • Their 2001 album Amnesiac was leaked before its release, which angered the band; however, they were only upset because they hadn't set the final mix yet.
    • When bootlegs of early live performances of Kid A songs made their way to the internet, the members of the band were both surprised and pleased when fans at concerts already knew the words to these new songs that had only been played once or twice previous. Colin Greenwood told a BBC reporter:
    "We played in Barcelona and the next day the entire performance was up on Napster. Three weeks later when we got to play in Israel the audience knew the words to all the new songs and it was wonderful."
    • Radiohead also forced their American label, Capitol Records, to back down from lawsuit threats against fansites that posted Radiohead lyrics.
    • An unmastered version of Hail to the Thief was leaked onto the internet... Nigel Godrich was a bit disappointed because the release was far from finished... but Jonny Greenwood:
    "Shame it's not a package with the artwork and all, but there you go. I feel bemused, though, not annoyed. I'm glad people like it, most of all. It's a little earlier than we'd expected, but there it is."
    • He also commented that he wasn't angry that the album was leaked, rather, he was angry about how it was leaked in an unfinished manner, much like with the Amnesiac leak as described earlier.
    • The band has not only approved but contributed audio masters to two different fan filmed concert DVD, provided they not be sold for profit.
    • Guitarist Ed O'Brien dislikes the band's stance on it. He's the only member of the band involved in the Featured Artists Coalition, an anti-piracy group. However, he also notes that he is tolerant of the 'passive' pirates who really only download music to listen to it. He's really mostly against the shadier bunches who try to make money off of artists.
  • Dissonant Serenity: "I Will".
  • Downer Ending: The Bends, which closes with "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", which is not only an extremely depressing closer to a notably moody album, but also talks about the futility of life itself.
  • Driven to Suicide: The character in the video for "Pyramid Song". He does ascend to a higher plane of existence, though.
  • Dubstep: The King of Limbs has shades of the James Blake / Burial variety.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Pablo Honey is probably the weirdest Radiohead album... in that it's not weird at all.
  • Easter Egg:
    • OK Computer has text hidden on the inside of the case.
    • Early pressings of Kid A had an extra booklet of art and text hidden under the CD tray.
  • Echoing Acoustics:
    • Thanks to Nigel Godrich, OK Computer is really spacey-sounding.
    • Also, "Talk Show Host," a B-side to "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", also produced by Nigel Godrich.
    • The King of Limbs has its instrumentation and Thom's vocals given an echo for a more conjunctive atmosphere where all of the soundscapes just sort of melt into one another. It's quite beautiful.
    • Used extensively on Thom's vocals in "The Gloaming" to a beautifully haunting effect.
  • Either/Or Title: Every song on Hail to the Thief. Even the album itself has an alternate title: The Gloaming.
  • Epic Rocking: "Supercollider" is Radiohead's longest song, clocking in at 7:02.
    • Also "These Are My Twisted Words", "Paranoid Android", "The National Anthem", and "How to Disappear Completely".
    • The original version of the B-side "Cuttooth" was evidently much longer than the final cut.
  • Establishing Character Moment: "Fake Plastic Trees" was this for the band as a whole. The themes of decay, alienation, and pollution, the falsetto vocals, the tear jerkiness, and the accompanying Surreal Music Video would all become part of the band's Signature Style in the years to come.
    • Then came "Everything in Its Right Place", deliberately designed to be the Establishing Character Moment of the post-OK Computer Radiohead (digitally altered vocals, weirdly danceable elements, bizarre time signature, etc.)
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Thom Yorke. This is ironic, since he doesn't scream sex symbol... but even straight men lust after him.
    • There's a term for it: Thomosexual.
    • On the other hand, Thom does look a bit like John "The Master" Simm. Who is hot.
    • Same could be said for Jonny Greenwood... who would probably be considered more of a "sex symbol" than Thom.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: The lyric booklet for Hail to the Thief actually gives up on trying to understand what's said in the end section of "2 + 2 = 5" and just says:
  • Everyone Went to School Together: They met at Abingdon School in Oxfordshire when they were teenagers.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Jonny Greenwood has wielded an FM radio and an analog TV during live performances of "The National Anthem". He typically samples those sounds (in tandem with a Korg Kaoss Pad, which is also used to manipulate Thom's voice in "Everything in Its Right Place").
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe; the basis of "Myxomatosis".
    It got edited, fucked up
    Strangled, beaten up
    Used as a photo in Time Magazine
    Buried in a burning black hole in Devon
  • Face Cam: The "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" music video, which features footage taken from cameras mounted on helmets that each band member is wearing as they play.
  • Fading into the Next Song
    • From OK Computer: The sirens at the end of "Karma Police" trail off into "Fitter Happier," and the beeps at the end of "Airbag" set the tempo for "Paranoid Android". There's also a split-second where the end of "Exit Music (For a Film)" and the beginning of "Let Down" overlap.
    • From Kid A: The phasing synth sound at the end of "Kid A" continues into the very beginning of "The National Anthem;" the chirping noises at the end of "Idioteque" lead into "Morning Bell".
    • All of the tracks on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings fade into each other, since it's a live album.
    • From COM LAG: The cheering in "2 + 2 = 5 (Live at Earls Court, London, 26/11/03)" fades into the amp fuzz at the beginning of "Remyxomatosis".
    • From The King of Limbs: A sample of bird sounds allows "Codex" to fade into "Give Up the Ghost".
  • Fake Loud: An odd example. "Climbing Up the Walls" consists of two of Thom's vocal tracks layered over each other. The one that's mixed lower is clipped and distorted in this manner, but it's actually much quieter than the Thom's other vocal track, which is more clean and melodic.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "I Might Be Wrong" fades out toward the middle, but returns with a quiet instrumental section.
  • Fan Vid: Lots, most notably the ones made for the official Aniboom video contest.
  • Feathered Fiend: The "There There" video climaxes as crows chase and peck at Thom, who has stolen an enchanted coat and some Sprint Shoes that they were guarding. The birds lose Thom once the shoes grant him Super Speed, but they catch up to him. He accidentally loses the shoes, then gets turned into a tree, allowing the crows to victoriously perch on his branches.
  • Follow the Leader: A whole crop of fresh-faced post-Britpop British alternative bands became popular after Radiohead released OK Computer and were at least somewhat indebted to the band sonically. Many of these bands later made a name for themselves, separated themselves from the "Radiohead clone" tag and proceeded to become some of the most popular and acclaimed British rock acts of the 2000's, including such bands as Muse, Coldplay, Travis, Snow Patrol and Stereophonics.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The band claim that either the first or last song on each album hints at the sound of the next album.
    • The melody of "Where I End and You Begin"'s climax appears earlier in the song as the bassline. It gives the impression of some kind of evil urge slowly breaking through the surface over the course of the track.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Thom is choleric, Ed is sanguine, Jonny is melancholic and Colin and Phil are phlegmatic.
  • Gainax Ending: Their music videos tend to have these, reasonably.
    • "Street Spirit" ends with Thom jumping up into the air in slow-mo — and never coming back down, but just hovering in midair.
    • "Just" ends with the man lying on the sidewalk finally telling everyone why he's lying there — we never do clearly see what he said, but apparently it propelled everyone to lie down on the ground with him.
    • "Karma Police" has a man being chased by a car with Thom sitting in the backseat. Once the man finds out that the car has a gas leak, he takes out a match and lights up the gas trail. The car starts backing away, but eventually gets consumed in flames shortly afterwards. The camera turns to look back to the backseat — and Thom isn't there.
    • "There There" has a particularly disturbing one; remember kids, don't put on golden clothes that you find in the woods or else you'll turn into a tree.
  • Genre-Busting: They don't stick with any particular sound, instead meandering around the spectrum from Grunge and alt-rock (Pablo Honey, The Bends) to a spacier sound (OK Computer) to electronica (Kid A, Amnesiac) to a mix of everything (Hail to the Thief) to themselves on Prozac (In Rainbows) to whatever The King of Limbs can be classified as.
  • Genre Roulette: A staple of theirs, considering their unconventional Genre-Busting.
    • Amnesiac. It's got electronica ("Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box", "Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors", "Like Spinning Plates"), rock ("I Might Be Wrong", "Knives Out"), jazz (ranging from modern styles like the piano-driven "You And Whose Army?" and the Cool Jazz-y "Dollars and Cents" to a New Orleans-style dirge in "Life in a Glasshouse;" arguably the Charles Mingus-influenced "Pyramid Song" also counts), and some things that don't quite fit into any genre.
    • The King of Limbs is especially outstanding. Is it jazz? Folk? Electronic? Alternative? A mishmash of everything? The mind is boggled.
      • With TKOL, they may well have created an entirely new genre of music.
      • It's probably the only album in existence that contains a dubstep song, a dance song, a piano ballad, a folk song, and a rock song... one right after the other. Yet somehow it flows perfectly.
      • Strangely, an interview in late 2011 had Thom denying that TKOL was 'experimental music', and was a result of their learning and alleged 'stealing' of other artists' works.
    • Hail to the Thief has a fairly eclectic blend of styles as well. It even includes some Hip-Hop elements, particularly noticeable in the drums and semi-spoken choruses of "Myxomatosis" and the near-rap "A Wolf at the Door." There are also some relatively straightforward rock songs, like "2 + 2 = 5" and "There There".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • The video for "Paranoid Android" has frontal nudity in it (and gay leathermen), although it is animated. Nevertheless, the unedited version was only played on MTV post-watershed.
    • Also, Pablo Honey has no Parental Advisory sticker on it, despite being widely distributed AND bearing an incredibly famous (and explicit) lead single.
  • Ghibli Hills: The peaceful "Codex" sounds like this trope. See also the lyrics.
  • Gratuitous Panning:
    • "Four Minute Warning" has the guitars panned to one side and the drums to the other, with the vocals in the middle. It gives the song a feeling of eerie disconnect.
    • The guitar during the first section of "2 + 2 = 5" is panned entirely to one side.
    • "MK 1" consists of piano-like ambience panned to the left side, and a wall of harmonizing Thoms panned to the right side.
    • "Give Up the Ghost" has the distorted wall of Thoms singing "in your arms" in the lower right side.
    • "The Gloaming" begins with a strange electronic noise that begins in the right channel before gradually shifting to the center.
  • Greasy Spoon: In the American version of the "High and Dry" video.
  • Greatest Hits Album: The band actually refused to release one, but upon their departure from Parlophone Records, Radiohead: The Best Of was released without their cooperation. As AllMusic put it, "a best-of Radiohead compilation is similar to a DVD containing somewhat thoughtfully picked scenes from films made by a specific director."
  • Grief Song:
    • "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", which Thom claims is about "staring the fucking devil right in the eyes, and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he'll get the last laugh."
    • "In Limbo" off of Kid A is quite dreary and forlorn.
    • "Let Down". It perfectly captures the feeling of soul-crushing disappointment and hopelessness.
  • Grunge: What Pablo Honey was, in a nutshell. It's often referred to dismissively as "Nirvana lite". The band quickly grew out of this with the release of The Bends.
  • Heroic BSOD: The end of "Dollars and Cents". "All over the planet's dead..."
  • He's Back To Save The Universe: "Airbag". In an interstellar burst, no less.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: The quietly furious "Nude" is directed at one of these.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arguably, Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Referenced in "Bangers + Mash."
    If you stare into the dark / the dark will stare back / back into your SOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL.
  • I Have Many Names: Thom goes by a variety of stage names when collaborating with Stanley Donwood on the artwork and packaging. These names include Zachariah Wildwood, Dr. Tchock, Tchocky, The White Chocolate Farm, and Sisi Bakbak.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Thom Yorke has admitted that he has a "cannibal thing".
    • "Where I End and You Begin."
    I will eat you all alive and I will eat you all alive and I will eat you all alive.
    • "Knives Out" also has cannibalistic imagery ("he's bloated and frozen / still, there's no point letting it go to waste.")
  • Important Haircut: Thom has had one for just about every new "era" of Radiohead; see Dye Hard.
  • Incredibly Long Note: One very memorable live performance of "Creep".
    • Sometimes achieved artificially during the intro to live versions of "Everything in Its Right Place" in which Jonny loops and manipulates Thom's voice.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics:
    • "Kid A" invoked this by having Thom speak the lyrics into a vocoder that made it only slightly possible to detect words.
    • Also, for the first half of "Like Spinning Plates." The lyrics were sung normally, then the recording was played backwards and the sounds were imitated by Thom to create a barely-recognizable version of the vocals. The chorus utilizes both normally sung lyrics and sung backwards-played forwards lyrics.
    • "Feral" counts as well. note 
    • There's a milder example in "Climbing Up the Walls". Thom Yorke sang two vocal tracks for it, one perfectly comprehensible and high-quality, the other a slurred, distorted wail that bursts into a scream toward the end of the song. These two tracks are layered over each other, leading to the lyrics being extremely difficult to discern.
  • Instrumentals:
    • "Treefingers" and "Hunting Bears", which also serve as interludes.
    • Their first instrumental, "Meeting in the Aisle," was a B-side to OK Computer.
    • "Little by Little (Shed RMX)."
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy." Yeah.
  • Intercourse with You: "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" sounds like this, from the title to the moaning vocals to the "UH-ah" when the drums come in... but it's actually about how ignorance lets government corruption thrive.
    • "Pearly*" is a very dark example; Thom described it as "a dirty song for people who use sex for dirty things."
  • "I Want" Song: "The Bends", though according to the band it's at least partially tongue-in-cheek. "I wanna live, breathe... I wanna be part of the human race."
    • "Dollars and Cents" is a cross between an "I Want" Song and a Villain Song, with Thom alternating between the roles of a corrupt cynic and an idealist.
  • Kids Rock: "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" features distorted samples of a children's choir doing vocal exercises. The Matrix Music School children's choir also provides the "YEAH!" on "15 Step".
  • Large Ham: Despite the subtlety and darkness of most Radiohead songs, Thom enjoys indulging himself in hamminess occasionally, particularly in "Bangers + Mash" and live performances of "Idioteque."
    • "2 + 2 = 5" is quite hammy as well.
    • In a rather less Rule of Fun-based example, early performances tended to be rather over the top. One time Thom started randomly screaming and then jumped in a pool. note 
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • "Karma Police", which ends with violently wailing distorted sirens.
    • "Climbing Up the Walls." Not just Thom's horrifying Metal Scream, but the last 25 seconds of ominous noises and sounds.
    • Every song on Kid A has one of these, save "Treefingers" and "Motion Picture Soundtrack".
    • Hail to the Thief as an album has this, ending with the creepy "A Wolf at the Door". In fact, Thom Yorke has explicitly compared the album to a nightmare, with "A Wolf at the Door" signifying waking up and finding out that the real world has become worse than the nightmare (hence the themes of Adult Fear in the song.)
  • Lighter and Softer: In Rainbows. Played with in that while some songs are no less angsty than those on previous albums, the overall sound is lighter, especially on "Reckoner".
    • The King of Limbs is arguably this as well, and Ed O'Brien has described it as retaining some of the 'warmth' of In Rainbows, and in 2012 remarked that from OK Computer all the way through to Hail to the Thief the band had been in a dark place and though that gave them a lot of creativity, it killed them as human beings and wore them down very quickly.
    • Live versions of "Everything In Its Right Place" are much less morbid and emotionless than the studio version. "Kid A" applies as well for the same reason, though Thom's use in post-TKOL live performances of a vocoder to achieve the same effect on his voice as in the studio version counterbalances this somewhat.
  • List Song: "Fitter Happier" comes across as a demented checklist ("at a better pace / slower and more calculated /no chance of escape.")
  • A Load of Bull: The Crying Minotaur, the logo for Amnesiac which looks almost nothing like a minotaur.
  • Long Runner Line Up: Type 1. They've been together since either 1985, although they didn't change their name to radiohead until 1991.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Some of their best songs were never even included on an album and relegated to B-sides. "Talk Show Host" is the most well-known of these songs, and pretty much all of the Amnesiac B-sides have become fan favorites.
    • The intensely popular but never officially released "Big Boots" is an even more tragic example than the B-sides listed above: The highest-quality version of it that features the completed lyrics is a badly-recorded clip from Meeting People is Easy, and is interrupted halfway through by an ugly beeping.
      • There is, however, a fairly large number of live-recordings of this song (interestingly also showcasing the development of the song's lyrics and arrangement), the quality of which ranges from "so-so" to "fairly decent."
    • In a less depressing example, Thom Yorke has expressed regret at not releasing "Everything in Its Right Place" as a single.
    • "Lift" a relatively uplifting, almost ridiculously radio and stadium-friendly and "VERY '90s-sounding" rock song (see video) had been played on a number of gigs from 1995 to 1996, only to be dropped from the setlist soon after. However, a re-arranged version of the song, has been played on a number of occasions in the early 2000s.
    • "Putting Ketchup in the Fridge" was a hoax song that passed itself off as this for a while but was eventually caught.
    • Averted with "Nude," which debuted alternately under the aforementioned, final title or "Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)" as soon as 1998 and had been considered an example of Long Song, Short Scene for nearly a decade, until a re-arranged version was recorded for "In Rainbows" (see the "old version" here).
  • Long Title: "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box". A lot of Hail to the Thief also qualifies, since each song has a main title and a secondary one in parenthesis. "Where I End and You Begin (The Sky is Falling In)", "The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold)", "A Punchup at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No)", and "Sail to the Moon (Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky)" are particularly notable examples.
  • Looped Lyrics: "Everything in Its Right Place", "Kid A", "The National Anthem", the outro of "Where I End and You Begin".
  • Loudness War: Every post OK Computer album is a victim. OK Computer brickwalls in the louder parts. The Bends is mastered loud by 1995 standards, but is quiet by today's.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Used in several of their songs, which only makes the tone even bleaker.
    • Case in point: "Let Down". Spacey backing, depressing lyrics. Same with "No Surprises".
    • "Knives Out" is a catchy little song about cannibalism.
    • Thom dislikes how "pretty" his singing voice sounds because it causes this seemingly regardless of what he sings about.
    • "I Will" is an acoustic song featuring soft vocals... about women and children being killed in bunkers.
    • "Cuttooth" is a beautiful, upbeat, shoegaze-y track with extremely dark lyrics:
    I build you up to pull you down / tie you to your feet and watch you drown / a little bit of knowledge will destroy you.
    • The first part of "The Daily Mail" sounds like a lullaby, despite lyrics about corruption and scathing attacks on the newspaper of the title. Then this trope is kicked to the curb with the second part, which is essentially a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in musical form.
    • If you get past the Ominous Music Box Tune vibe, "Kid A" has a very beautiful, sweet instrumental. It just so happens to have terrifying lyrics that are fed through a vocoder to make it less intelligible for both listeners and Thom.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box".
    I'm a reasonable man, get off my case, get off my case, get off my case
    I'm a reasonable man, get off, get off, get off my case.
    • "Where I End and You Begin":
    I will eat you all alive, and I will eat you all alive, and I will eat you all alive, and I will eat you all alive,
    And there'll be no more lies, and there'll be no more lies, and there'll be no more lies, and there'll be no more lies.
    • "Idioteque" probably qualifies.
    • "Kid A" (the song, not the album) consists, for the most part, of Thom muttering "standing in the shadows at the end of my bed" over and over through a vocoder.
    • The last thirty or so seconds of "Morning Bell" feature Thom mumbling "walking, walking, I'm walking, walking, walking."
    • "Everything In Its Right Place" uses it to very offsetting and nigh-ironic effect.
    • Many of the lines in "The Gloaming" are repeated.
  • Metal Scream: Thom delivers a spine-chilling one at the very end of "Climbing Up the Walls". The vocals are already so distorted that he sounds inhuman.
    • There's a less obvious one at the end of "Paranoid Android". It's fed through a guitar amp (or something along those lines) and is nearly buried beneath the concluding riffs.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: For Amnesiac. It's taken to an extreme with the deluxe edition, which is the red book pictured on the cover; the title is printed on the spine.
  • Misogyny Song: Inverted by "Nude" and "Pearly*", which mock and criticize sexism.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Usually ranging from 5 to 7, though there are exceptions ("Worrywort" is a 1 and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is arguably a 9 based on the sheer bleakness of its intended message.)
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: From 1 to 6, depending on the album, though usually averaging a 3. Unusual examples include "Trans Atlantic Drawl" (a 7 that becomes a 1 halfway through), "2 + 2 = 5" (which transitions from 3 to 6 to 5 over the course of the song) and what's arguably the most well-known and also most intricate example: "Paranoid Android" which starts out as a 1 or 2 gradually building up to a 3, then suddenly exploding into a 7 (well, maybe even 7.5), shrinking back to a 1 (or 0.5...) right after that, just to soar up to a 7 again.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Amnesiac, due to the various genres utilized and the overall atmosphere of fear and confusion, has a lot of this. The paranoid, jittery "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" is followed by the peaceful, sad "Pyramid Song", which is then followed by the nightmarish "Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors", and so on.
      • Amnesiac unfortunately seems to have gotten a lukewarm reception among critics, perhaps for this reason. It's quite popular among fans, though, to the point of being considered an Ensemble Dark Horse.
    • Occurs within "My Iron Lung" between the quietly grim verses and distorted choruses.
    • On OK Computer, "No Surprises", a calm and emotional song led by a xylophone, is put right after "Climbing Up the Walls", which is a genuinely horrifying song based around insanity and paranoia.
  • Motor Mouth: Thom in "A Wolf at the Door".
  • The Movie: Meeting People is Easy, a critically-acclaimed rockumentary that follows the life of Radiohead as they embark on their OK Computer tour across the world, mixing live performances with clips of the band members doing interviews, radio station intros and group photos.
    • A lesser-known and rarer one was The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time, which mostly compiled fanmade music videos for Hail to the Thief-era tracks, as well as odd, slightly surreal low-quality clips of Radiohead doing mock interviews and playing unreleased material.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The lyrics of "Pearly", as an example: "How’d you get your teeth so pearly?", "Vanilla milkshakes from Hard Rock Cafes".
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • A lot of the band members have remarked that Hail to the Thief in particular was an album they wish they could have went back to; Thom, Ed and Colin all seem to agree that the album was filled with too many songs and not edited well enough, which was in part a result of their more spontaneous recording process.
    • Pablo Honey seems to go without saying by both the band and the fanbase (although Jonny, curiously, has come to think of it as slightly underrated in recent years).
    • Die-hard fans of The Bends and OK Computer-era Radiohead think that Kid A ruined the band forever.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Frequently, with Kid A and The King of Limbs probably being the most obvious examples.
  • New Sound Album: Kid A, Amnesiac, and In Rainbows.
    • Really, every album is a New Sound Album. They don't so much depart from the formula as... just not have one.
    • The King of Limbs for goodness' sake. It's hard to even categorize what kind of sound it really is.
  • Nice Hat: Thom dons one for the "Lotus Flower" video.
    • Ed as of late seems to be donning a similar hat in their live performances.
  • Nipple and Dimed: The video for "Paranoid Android" featured cartoon nipples which had to be covered up for US release. The band seemed confused that the censors balked at the cartoon nudity but had no trouble at all with the scene in which a man accidentally cuts his own limbs off.
  • Non-Appearing Title: So many. "Idioteque", "Paranoid Android", (almost though, if you listen to the robotic backing vocals) "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box", "Cuttooth", "Talk Show Host", "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy", "Codex", "Worrywort", "Motion Picture Soundtrack", etc.
    • Usually, however, the title does have something to do with the lyrics: "Idioteque" is a dance song about pollution and destroying the environment ('idiot' crossed with 'discotheque'), "Paranoid Android" partially parodies the overly mopey and depressing music that the band had been stereotyped as making (Marvin the Paranoid Android is a comically depressed robot), "Worrywort" refers to the person who the song is being sung to, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" refers to being forced to fit the mold and living a 'normal' life, etc.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: The fish in the "Paranoid Android" video. Strangely enough, that's the only humanoid feature that fish has, and isn't even noticeable at first...
  • No Peripheral Vision: Textbook example in the video for "Just", where a character accidentally stumbles upon another character lying on the ground in front of him.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Nobody knows what the horrible thing that "Kid A" represented to Thom Yorke was.
    • Or why the man was laying down in the music video for "Just."
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: A case could be made for the first verse of "Sulk".
    You just sit there and sulk, sit there and bawl
    You are so pretty when you're on your knees
    Disinfected, eager to please
  • Obsession Song:
    • "All I Need".
    "I am the next act / waiting in the wings / I am an animal / trapped in your hot car / I am all the days / that you choose to ignore."
    • Also "Climbing Up the Walls", which is about a Implacable Man stalking his victim... or something.
    • "Where I End and You Begin" starts off as a basic love song with some dark themes of disconnection. It gets worse.
  • Older Than They Look: Jonny Greenwood, although age seems to have caught up with him more recently.
    • Seems to be mostly due to his hair. See Peek-a-Bangs below.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune:
    • "Kid A", which has one of the band's (relatively speaking) softest instrumentals yet features their most horrifying lyrics.
    • "No Surprises" also qualifies, even though it uses a xylophone. The lyrics describe depression, overwork, and pollution, among other things.
    • "Everything in Its Right Place" has shades of this.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: The man being chased by the car in the "Karma Police" video. And later the car itself.
  • One-Liner: Thom often delivers them as a way to introduce songs live. Given the band's sense of humor, they are often very strange.
  • The Oner: The "No Surprises" video. The continuous 57 seconds in which Thom Yorke is submerged was done by speeding up the track Thom is miming to as his face becomes totally submerged, then editing the footage to slow it down for the full minute. The making of this video is featured in Meeting People is Easy, which shows Thom's frustrations with being unable to do the shot correctly for several takes.
  • Only Sane Man: Ed and Phil, who are the only ones that stand pretty much completely still during live performances. Meanwhile, Thom is constantly dancing around the stage and going absolutely nuts, Jonny gets down on his knees and beats the hell out of his guitar every time he rips a sick guitar solo while his hair flies all over the place as if it has a mind of it's own, and Colin repetitively pigeon-necks while stepping around in circles like he's playing Dance Dance Revolution.
  • Patter Song: "A Wolf at the Door" is a Darker and Edgier take.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Jonny Greenwood's signature look.
  • Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Thom tends to this.
  • Perma Stubble: Thom had this for a while, although it's become a fully grown beard since In Rainbows.
  • Piss-Take Rap:
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The famous strategically placed "you're so fucking special" in "Creep".
    • The line "dance you fucker" in "A Wolf at the Door".
    • "Thinking About You" ("[...] 'cause I'm playing with myself [...]")
    • "Myxomatosis" also applies ("It got edited, fucked up").
    • A couple occur in "Talk Show Host": "If you want me / fuckin' well come and find me" and a bit later "Fucking come on and break the door down."
    • The single swear on OK Computer is in "Fitter Happier" ("that's driven into / frozen winter shit.")
  • Pop-Star Composer: Jonny Greenwood, who has scored Bodysong, There Will Be Blood, Norwegian Wood, We Need to Talk About Kevin and currently, The Master (again for Paul Thomas Anderson). Funnily enough, his compositions sound nothing like Radiohead.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The choruses of "Myxomatosis".
  • Race Fetish: The girl in "Pearly*" has a "sweet tooth for white boys." It's not played for titillation.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!":
    • "A Punchup at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No.)" The song even begins with Thom singing 42 consecutive "no"'s.
    • After the chorus of "A Wolf at the Door" , there's a section that has Thom doing nothing but this.
  • Real Person Fic: A small but vocal community on atease is notorious for this. They're called cheesecakers for an infamous slash fic involving Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe, and (you guessed it) cheesecake, and have a website dedicated to archiving slash fics (there is little Radiohead fanfic out there that isn't slash in some way, shape, or form). Drummer Philip Selway is aware, and is not happy with this.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Morning Bell" is re-arranged on Amnesiac as, appropriately, "Morning Bell / Amnesiac".
    • The B-side "Fog" was re-arranged live on piano and titled "Fog (Again)".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Nude" is one directed at He-Man Woman Haters, "A Punch-Up at a Wedding" is one directed at a critic who wrote a particularly scathing review of the band's homecoming show, "Just" is one towards a Small Name, Big Ego friend of Thom's.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • On Amnesiac, "Hunting Bears" reprises elements of "I Might Be Wrong".
    • On the double-disc version of In Rainbows, "MK1" is basically a remix of "Videotape".
  • Recut: Thom wrote up a considerably shorter alternate tracklisting for Hail to the Thief. While it cuts out several widely-liked songs, it also flows a lot better as an album.
    1. There There
    2. The Gloaming
    3. Sail to the Moon
    4. Sit Down. Stand Up.
    5. Go to Sleep
    6. Where I End and You Begin
    7. Scatterbrain
    8. 2 + 2 = 5
    9. Myxomatosis
    10. A Wolf at the Door
    • Their original track nos are 9, 8, 3, 2, 5, 6, 13, 1, 12, 14.
  • Recycled Lyrics:
    • The lines "I don't know why I feel so tongue-tied / I don't know why I feel so skinned alive" is included in both "Cuttooth" and "Myxomatosis". Additionally, "Cuttooth" was a track that was supposed to be on Amnesiac but was held off for unknown reasons. "Myxomatosis" is about Executive Meddling.
    • The phrase "staring up inside of me" is used in "Inside My Head" (a B-side to "Creep") and later used in "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was".
    • A very early, rare demo called "Ed's Scary Song" (which is just Thom and Ed goofing off with an organ and chanting lyrics) contains the seeds of several later songs. The lyric "I live a wallpaper life of playing guitar in a band" would be altered and used in "Cuttooth", and "Standing in the shadows at the end of the bed" would be used in "Kid A". There are also several lines that point ahead to "Everything in Its Right Place":
    He was a good man
    And he said he was the best
    Even when life spat in his face
    He put everything back in its right place.
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Just" is sometimes appended with "(You Do It to Yourself)" for this reason. Former: 3 times. Latter: 15. It's often called this by American alternative radio disk jockeys.
    • The same also applies to "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", often shortened to "Fade Out" for no reason.
    • "Creep" often appears on filesharing sites as "So Fucking Special" after its best known lyric.
    • Both "Myxomatosis" and "Cuttooth" have been mislabeled as "Tongue Tied".
    • "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" is probably out there on hundreds of filesharing websites mislabeled as "Reasonable Man".
  • Rockstar Song: "Anyone Can Play Guitar".
  • Rockumentary: Meeting People is Easy, which focuses on the OK Computer era and the band's gradual burnout during their world tour. It tends toward the arty side.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The artwork. Dear God, the artwork...
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Thom isn't very good at typing. Somehow, rather than being Narm, this just makes the cryptic messages on the band's website more disturbing.
    • This was apparently how "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" got its name. It fit the song so nobody bothered to change it.
  • Sampling:
    • "Idioteque" samples "Mild und Leise" by Paul Lansky and "Short Piece" by Arthur Krieger. The Lansky sample was so vital to the song that the band sent him a letter telling him they'd sampled him for the track and wanted to make sure it was okay with him.
      • The song's bizarre beat and the background chirps were reportedly created from playing a ton of records all at the same time (creating white noise) and feeding them through a drum machine.
    • "Kinetic" samples the drums from "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" by Miles Davis.
    • "Dollars and Cents" samples an Alice Coltrane song for the bass.
    • There's a very well-hidden sample in "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy". The recurring downward melody appears to be played by a keyboard or distorted string instruments — but if you speed the song up, it's revealed to be a loop of a choir doing vocal exercises.
    • "Motion Picture Soundtrack"'s harp parts are sampled from various old Disney movies.
    • "Give Up the Ghost" and "Codex" feature sampled bird noises, which serve to transition from the former to the latter.
    • Though it's not technically a Radiohead song, "Rabbit in Your Headlights" by UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke included in the Towering Above the Rest collection of songs samples the film Jacobs Ladder.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Climbing Up the Walls". "Do not cry out or hit the alarm, we are friends 'til we die."
    • "Lock the kids up safe tonight, shut the eyes in the cupboard..."
  • Scenery Gorn: Parts of the Kid A artwork incorporate this to varying degrees, the blips especially. Stick figures bleed to death in the snow, their corpses are tossed into pools of blood, distant fires rage across frigid mountainous landscapes, and there is a strong general implication that the world is falling to pieces.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: "Cuttooth:" "I will leave my wallpaper life / and run away to the foreign legion / as the tanks roll into town."
  • Sensory Abuse: In "Just", at one point the guitar gets so high in pitch that at its most intense, it's an earsplitting screech.
  • Shout-Out:
    I'm stuck in the TARDIS
    Trapped in hyperspace
    One minute snake charming
    The next in another place.
    • Kid A's Working Title was No Logo after a seminal anti-globalisation text by Naomi Klein. The band refused to allow any advertising on the tour for the album.
  • Shrinking Violet: Many consider Jonny Greenwood to be this. His brother even said (years ago) that he dislikes interviews because he thought he came across as an idiot. In a New York Times article:
    "He doesn't like talking to cameras throughout the session at Alvernia, a representative of the studio kept trying to pull him away to tape a five-minute Q and A for a video press kit, and he did everything he could to get out of it, short of faking a nosebleed."
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: The 'manipulator' character in "Dollars and Cents" overpowers the voice of the 'free man' during the chorus.
    "Why don't you quiet down?"
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "The Tourist" and "Airbag" from OK Computer. They tell a coherent story together, but are placed in reverse order, with "The Tourist" at the end of the album and "Airbag" at the beginning.
    • "Fitter Happier" is basically an extended spoken-word outro to "Karma Police".
    • A very strange version of this trope would be "Hunting Bears" / "I Might Be Wrong". They flow perfectly into each other, are in the same key, have the same tempo, harmonize perfectly when played on top of each other... but they don't follow each other on Amnesiac. Instead, "Hunting Bears" serves as more of a Dark Reprise of "I Might Be Wrong," or an intro to "Like Spinning Plates."
    • The first track on disc 2 of In Rainbows, "MK 1", feels like a continuation of "Videotape", the concluding track on disc 1, with very similar sounds in the same key.
  • Single Stanza Song: Radiohead are quite good at using only a few lines to get their point across: "Like Spinning Plates", "Everything in its Right Place", "Kid A", "The National Anthem", "Sail to the Moon", "I Will", "How I Made My Millions", "Melatonin", "Permanent Daylight", "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)", "These Are My Twisted Words", "Codex", "Trans-Atlantic Drawl", and "Give Up the Ghost" all qualify.
    • "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" is an unusual example, as it only contains a single stanza of lyrics, but they are repeated in different orders and are distorted and altered throughout the song.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Truth be told, they're probably one of the most cynical mainstream bands in existence (barring, perhaps, the appropriately titled "Optimistic").
  • Solo Side Project: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Phil Selway have all released solo work during the band's time together.
    • Thom's got the electronic The Eraser, the Spitting Feathers EP and Tomorrow's Modern Boxes under his belt, as well as remixes of other artists and a contribution to the Twilight soundtrack.
    • Jonny has done work with the BBC as a composer-in-residence, and has done the soundtrack for Norwegian Wood, There Will Be Blood, Film/Bodysong, and We Need to Talk About Kevin.
    • Phil has released both an album (Familial) and an EP (Running Blind).
  • Something Completely Different: Kid A and Amnesiac. (See note on New Sound Album above.)
  • Song Style Shift: Most famously, the multi-sectioned "Paranoid Android".
    • Halfway through "Sit Down. Stand Up", the slow-burning mood piece transforms into an insanely fast Aphex Twin-like composition with Thom's layered voice chanting about raindrops.
    • Also in "The National Anthem", where the horns/trumpets suddenly enter and it becomes into a free jazz jam.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Fitter Happier" has a computer doing the vocals.
    • There's also a repeated sample from a movie in the background, along with some other unsettling noises.
    • Also "Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors" (see entry under Auto-Tune.)
  • Spoof Aesop: The liner notes of OK Computer are filled with tongue-in-cheek cut-outs from self-help books and instructions on how to make friends, and numerous sequiturs. The effect was described by David Cavanagh of Uncut as similar to being "lifestyle-coached by a lunatic."
  • Springtime for Hitler: Supposedly, the guitar "crunches" just before the chorus of "Creep" were an attempt by a very disgruntled Jonny Greenwood to ruin the song. It wound up being one of the most distinctive parts... and then people started disliking it after it got waaaaay too much exposure compared to the rest of their material.
  • Stop and Go: "Just".
  • Studio Chatter:
    • At the beginning of "2 + 2 = 5".
    Jonny: We're on.
    Thom: That's a nice way to start, Jonny.
    • Heavily reverbed studio chatter can be heard in the background of "Where I End and You Begin", most notably Thom repeating "check... check."
    • "Climbing Up the Walls" contains clips of what is apparently studio chatter pitch-shifted and buried among the insect noises and violins. The song must be slowed down before it can even be noticed at all, and even then it's hard to make out what is being said (it seems to be "we're playing... ready?" though it also sounds rather like "amazing... amazing.")
  • Subdued Section: "Morning Bell" has a brief one where all of the instruments die out except for the drums and keyboard while Thom sings.
  • Subliminal Seduction:
    • "Exit Music (For a Film)" includes reversed samples of children playing.
    • The intro to "Everything in Its Right Place" features a distorted voice saying "Kid A". It says the same thing when you play it backwards.
    • "Codex" begins with a single sung note by Thom played in reverse, so the Echoing Acoustics are heard first as they build up before the snippet of Thom's voice comes in.
  • Surreal Music Video: The band absolutely loves this trope, as shown in the videos for "Karma Police," "Knives Out," "There There," and "Just", among many others.
  • Take That:
    • The "kicking screaming Gucci little piggy" line in "Paranoid Android" was directed at an obnoxious, wealthy, coke-addled woman who threw a tantrum in a bar Thom Yorke was in.
    • "Electioneering" is a rant against politicians who will say or do anything to get elected.
    • "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" is one against corrupt bankers. Sort of.
    • "Trans Atlantic Drawl" seems to be one against tabloids.
    • Hard Rock Cafe and Time Magazine get one in "Pearly*" ("Vanilla milkshakes from Hard Rock Cafes") and "Myxomatosis" ("It got used as a photo in Time Magazine"), respectively.
    • "Pop Is Dead", natch.
    • "The Daily Mail" at guess who.
  • Take That, Critics!: "A Punch Up at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No.)" is about a critic who wrote an extremely negative review of the band's Oxford show and tore into the band and audience. Thom admits he shouldn't have let it get to him:
    I mean, one of the biggest days in my life. Obviously for all of us. And this... whoever this person was, just tore it to shreds. And they just tore the audience to shreds [...] this person managed to totally and utterly ruin that day for me forever. And it really shouldn't have done, and I should be bighead enough to just ignore it. And there was a lesson there, which I have I learned now. But I just didn't understand why someone, just because they had access to a keyboard and a typewriter, could just totally write off an event, that meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people. And there'd been just no answering back, no nothing, that was it, the end of the story.
  • Tears of Joy: Thom Yorke said he "blubbed his eyes out" after hearing the final mix of "There There".
  • Titled After the Song: They're named after the Talking Heads song "Radio Head".
  • Title Only Chorus: "Nice Dream".
  • Title Track: "Kid A" and "The Bends".
    • "Palo Alto" was originally called "OK Computer", but was reworked and had its name changed when the decision was made to leave it off the album.
    • "The Gloaming" almost became a title track, but the band decided it sounded "too prog rock" and settled on naming the album Hail to the Thief (after a line in "2 + 2 = 5") instead.
    • "Reckoner" almost became a title track as well. The band ended up naming the album after a line in the song instead ("because we separate / like ripples on a blank shore / in rainbows.")
    • "Airbag", "No Surprises", and "My Iron Lung" are this for their respective EPs.
  • Tranquil Fury: "I Will".
  • Transflormation: This is Thom's punishment for stealing enchanted clothing from the woods in the music video for "There There."
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Sulk" ascends from G to A for its guitar solo and final chorus.
    • Inverted in "Cuttooth"; after Thom's opening scream, his vocals shift down a step and remain there for the rest of the song.
  • True Companions: Two decades on, the band has never had a member change. Ed said it best:
    "...even if we disbanded tomorrow, I would still consider them to be my brothers."
  • The Something Song: "Pyramid Song". It's got nothing to do with pyramids.
    • It was originally called "Egyptian Song," which does in fact have something to do with the lyrics — it refers to an Egyptian philosophy of reincarnation and becoming one with everything.
    • Apparently the lyrics were inspired by artwork of the Egyptian underworld and Thom's fascination with 'time as a cyclical force'. Another relation to 'pyramids' might be the hovering "pyramid hotels" that are present in many of the Kid A / Amnesiac blips at the time.
  • Two Plus Torture Equals Five: The title of "2 + 2 = 5", which is a direct reference to 1984.
  • Uncommon Time: A lot. "Everything in Its Right Place" is in 10/4, "Morning Bell" is in 5/4, "15 Step" is in 5/4, "2 + 2 = 5"'s intro is in 7/8, "Go to Sleep" alternates between 4/4 and 6/8, and "Idioteque" is some bizarre hybrid of 7/8, 6/8, and 4/4. "Paranoid Android" has some bars (near and during the chorus) in 7/4 (actually alternating three bars of 7/8 with one of 8/8), "Let Down" has a guitar part in 5/4 and the rest of the instruments in 4/4, "The Tourist" alternates between 9/8 and 10/8, and "You" has three measures of 6/8 followed by one measure of 5/4.
    • Notably averted with "Pyramid Song," which can be written in common time; it just has a very unusual rhythm.
    • Also averted by "Myxomatosis," which sounds like it's in uncommon time due to the irregular cymbal hits and unusual synth pattern, but it's really in 4/4.
    • This is not merely limited to album tracks. "The Trickster" has one bit in the chorus that skips a bunch of beats, making it something like two bars of 4/4 followed by a bar of 3/4 followed by four bars of 4/4. "Permanent Daylight" switches between 4/4 and 3/4 (or 6/4) frequently (the exact pattern is two bars of 4/4 followed by three of 6/4 or six of 3/4). "India Rubber" has several segments with two bars of 4/4 followed by two of 3/4. "Polyethylene" has a ton of time signature changes, including bits alternating 9/8 and 4/4, bits alternating 10/4 and 4/4, bits alternating 4/4 and 3/4, and so on. "I Am Citizen Insane" is in 10/4. "4 Minute Warning" switches between 6/4, 4/4, and 5/4. "These Are My Twisted Words" is in 5/4 with drums playing a polyrhythm of 4/4. "The Daily Mail" has one segment with one measures of 2/4 followed by two measures of 4/4.
    • Depending how you count it, "Sail to the Moon" has as many as 30 or 40 time signature changes, though it's such a subdued song casual listeners might not even notice. It's easily Radiohead's most extreme deployment of this trope, though. Take a look.
    • Some of "Codex" shifts between 5/4 and 4/4.
  • Ur-Example: With the "No Surprises" video, Radiohead may have created the world's first lyric video.
  • Villain Song: A good portion of "Dollars and Cents".
    We are the dollars and cents
    and the pounds and pence
    and the mark and yen, and yeah,
    why don't you quiet down?
    we're gonna crack your little skulls
    we're gonna crack your little souls.
  • Vocal Evolution: Compare Thom's singing in 1993 to his singing in 2011.
  • Waxing Lyrical: To promote TKOL's retail release, Stanley Donwood and Thom went out and distributed copies of a newspaper called The Universal Sigh, a lyric taken from the album's intro track "Bloom".
  • Witch Hunt; "Burn the Witch", a legendary unreleased track of which only a few chords have been heard:
    Thom: This'll all sound much better when it's played by the orchestra.
  • Word Salad Horror: Dead Children Playing (a book of Stanley Donwood's art) has it in spades.
    • Thom's quite good at producing it as well.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Nearly literal example: some of the lyrics on Kid A came from Thom picking random words and phrases out of a hat. The most egregious example would probably be "Morning Bell":
    "Where'd you park the car? / Where'd you park the car? / Clothes are on the lawn with the furniture / And I might as well / I might as well / Sleepy jack the fire drill / Round and round and round and round and round and round and round..."
    I slipped away / I slipped on a little white lie / We've got heads on sticks / We've got ventriloquists / Standing in the shadows at the end of my bed / The rats and the children follow me out of town, etc.
    • From "Idioteque:"
    Who's in a bunker? / Women and children first and the children first and the children / I laugh until my head comes off / Swallow 'till I burst / Who's in a bunker? / I have seen too much / You haven't seen enough / You haven't seen it / Laugh until my head comes off / Women and children first and the children first and the children / Here I'm alive / Everything all of the time.
    • It's about Y2K, man.
    • And from "Cuttooth:"
    I will lead a wallpaper life and run away to the foreign legion / as the tanks roll into town / a little bit of knowledge will destroy you / I build you up to tie you down / tie you to your feet and watch you burn in Hell / in Hell.
  • Word Salad Title:
    • OK Computer.
    • All the Hail to the Thief tracks, especially with their alternate titles in parentheses.
  • X Meets Y: As a whole, they can be most easily described as Jeff Buckley and The Smiths crossed with either Aphex Twin or The Pixies.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" talks about how life is futile and how we will all die in the end anyway.
  • Zeroes and Ones: A working title for OK Computer.