These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
The band likes incorporating weird in-jokes and strange asides into their liner notes; the Hail to the Thief booklet features some of the strangest ("mmmmmooooree cooookieeeesssss...").
The end of "Optimistic", where the tempo changes and the beat shifts to a jazzy feel for about half a minute before the song ends, completely unexpectedly.
Broken Base - Kid A was this initially, due to its Genre Shift to electronica. It was Vindicated by History fairly quickly, as was In Rainbows, which initially received flak for being much more accessible and upbeat than previous albums. At the moment, Hail to the Thief and The King of Limbs are the only albums that fans can't agree on, and even then it's not so much the songs that are being contested but rather the length: Hail to the Thief is the longest Radiohead album to date, while The King of Limbs is the shortest. This led to arguing over whether having more songs on an album is good because it means more Radiohead, or worse because it makes the album too long and may result in Album Filler and Obvious Beta tracks.
Jonny Greenwood's 'abusive guitar' also gets a mention, be it on this performance of Bangers and Mash or... any other rocky guitar-based song. Jonny's done it so much that he had to get an arm brace from repetitive strain injury.
Ear Worm - Despite being known for their gloominess and inaccessibility, Radiohead are absolutely brilliant at making songs that you just can't keep out of your head. Prime examples include "Creep", "Paranoid Android", "Idioteque", and especially "Lotus Flower".
Ensemble Dark Horse - Amnesiac is probably the band's least-recognized album (well, except ''Pablo Honey'', but that doesn't count) outside of the fandom, with critics preferring Kid A and mainstream audiences preferring OK Computer and In Rainbows, but it's one of the most popular among the fandom. Its b-sides are considered to be some of the best of the band's career, and "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy"'s live debut on the King of Limbs tour was greeted with much enthusiasm.
"Idioteque," "Talk Show Host", "How to Disappear Completely", and "Lotus Flower" are examples of Ensemble Dark Horses that transcended the fandom and become some of the band's most well-known songs.
"Creep," "The National Anthem", "I Might Be Wrong", "Talk Show Host", and "Where I End and You Begin" have epic bass riffs.
"Street Spirit (Fade Out)", "Optimistic", "My Iron Lung", "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy", and "There There" have epic guitar riffs.
"Separator" has a gorgeous, jangly riff that comes in about halfway through to excellent effect, helping give The King of Limbs the most upbeat ending to a Radiohead album yet.
"Idioteque" and "Cuttooth" have epic keyboard riffs.
"Climbing Up the Walls" and "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" are rare examples of epic drum riffs.
Epileptic Trees - For a band as cryptic as Radiohead, it's natural that there would be quite a few convoluted fan theories about their music, and in some cases Yorke has encouraged them. 01 and 10, a theory that OK Computer and In Rainbows are intended to interlock, is one of the best.
Depending on who you ask, Kid A may qualify as an even better sequel to ''OK Computer.
Everyone Is Satan in Hell - There are some fans who will insist that "No Surprises" and "Videotape" are about suicide, despite this having been contradicted by Thom himself.
Face of the Band - Subverted. The band has admitted that Thom has the most say in everything material-wise (although that seems to have changed recently). However, the other members, most notably Jonny Greenwood, have a sizable amount of the fanbase's and media's attention.
Fandom Rivalry - With Muse and Coldplay. An unusual example in that the feud is entirely one-way; Radiohead fans often dislike the aforementioned bands for what they perceive as a blatant Follow the Leader in terms of sound and lyrics, while Muse and Coldplay fans don't really mind Radiohead. This tension has died down as of late due to Muse undergoing a genre shift and Coldplay becoming more experimental.
Radiohead themselves have largely ignored the matter. When asked by one interviewer what he felt about beliefs that bands like Muse and Coldplay had become popular by sounding like Radiohead circa The Bends-OK Computer, Thom simply replied "Good luck with Kid A."
Fanon Discontinuity - In most fans' eyes, Pablo Honey, with the exception of/particularly "Creep". Although "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and "Blow Out" are considered the best songs off the album—if you dislike "Creep". It's divisive like that.
Thanks to Thom Yorke's repeated collaborations with Burial, their respective fandoms probably count (as with Modeselektor).
Fridge Brilliance - "Myxomatosis" is about record companies destroying musicians' messages or altering them beyond recognition- that much is clear from the lyrics. The line "I don't know why I feel so tongue tied/Don't know why I feel so skinned alive" also appears on the Amnesiac b-side "Cuttooth," which was held off of the album at the last minute for reasons unknown- it seems Myxomatosis is about the record company forcing the band to remove Cuttooth from Amnesiac.
Ho Yay - Oh boy. Aside from Colin's quote under Bi the Way, we also have this gem:
Thom: The last time I was reeling drunk I made a fool of myself at a public party in Oxford two months ago. Colin and I started making out and it was fun. Colin is a rather good kisser. Did I just say that?
Thom/Jonny (a.k.a. Thonny) has a loyal following within the Radiohead slash community for a very◊ good◊ reason◊.
Blurry pictures aren't as good as Thom dedicating a straight up love song to Jonny.
Though this was more due to "The Present Tense" drawing heavily on one of Jonny's classical pieces, later adapted for and featured on the Norwegian Wood soundtrack.
Hype Backlash: Many people are sick of the obsession with the band, especially 'Kid A'.
Magnum Opus - OK Computer by general consensus (Kid A is also a candidate, along with In Rainbowsnote Which was revealed as a sort of sequel/companion to OK Computer, making sort of like Magnum Opus Part II. ).
Mainstream Obscurity - For all the critical acclaim their albums get, few people outside of the fandom are able to name any individual track from any of them (with the exception of maybe "Lotus Flower," thanks to Memetic Mutation)—and "Creep" doesn't count. The flipside of this is that the fandom is so dedicated that they can name any track (well, any post-Pablo Honey track, anyway) and are just as likely to love a rare b-side like "Cuttooth" or "Kinetic" as they are to love a hit single like "Paranoid Android" or "My Iron Lung."
Memetic Badass - Bizarrely enough, a song example. "Burn the Witch," of which only a few seconds have been heard, is legendary among Radiohead fans and Thom has fed the flames by jokingly(?) telling the audience at a concert, after playing a few chords of it, that "this will all sound much better when it's played by the orchestra."
Thom: It's also sort of the angriest thing I've ever written as well, you know. That sort of anger, that you can't even begin to express, you know. This thing about 'you can do anything you want to me, but if you come after my family I will kill you'
Older Than They Think - After making its live debut in and being performed regularly throughout the King of Limbs tour, at least one news publication mistook "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" for a new song, when in fact it was released in 2001 as a b-side and appeared in the 2006 film version of A Scanner Darkly; its popularity among fans and newfound relevance during the recession eventually led to the band deciding to play it at concerts.
Old Guard Versus New Blood - Arguably, the most recent Radiohead albums have been trying to strike this sort of balance, with In Rainbows doing so successfully, Hail to the Thief perhaps less so.
Old Shame - The Pablo Honey era in general; songs from then are virtually never performed anymore, with the exception of "Creep" every dozen or so shows. It also had excellent performances such as this one, in which Thom starts screaming, and then dives into a pool.
The song's about Thom's time spent working in a mental hospital.
Another one that definitely fits is "A Wolf at the Door" which was inspired by an incident where Thom was physically assaulted and the police did nothing because apparently he was "asking for it" by being famous. The chorus pairs this up with Adult Fear:
I keep the wolf from the door but he calls me up
Calls me on the phone, tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up
Steal all my children if I don't pay the ransom
And I'll never see them again if I squeal to the cops...
Thom sums up the paranoia in Radiohead's music nicely here:
"The thing that worries me about the computer age is the fact that people know so much about you. It's an incredible invasion of privacy. And no matter where you are in the world people can monitor you if you're using your credit card. I heard this weird rumor on the Internet about how the military is funding this great big research project and basically, they believe that in the future, the balance of power won't be determined by who has the most nuclear weapons, but by who has all the information. I'm not afraid of being taken over by computers though, because the thing is, computers cannot resist. You can always smash 'em up, and they're totally defenseless. All we need are more people with hammers."
Sampled Up: The keyboard line and glitchy drum fills from "Idioteque" were sampled from Paul Lansky's "Mild und Leise" and Arthur Krieger's "Short Piece," respectively. Since neither sample was an especially prominent part of its original song but became vital parts of "Idioteque," the average music fan probably associates the two clips more with Radiohead than with Lansky or Krieger.
Signature Song - It's hard to say for sure here- "Creep" is Radiohead's most well-known song to the general public, but "Karma Police," "Idioteque," and "Paranoid Android" are much more popular among fans and frequently top 'best Radiohead songs' lists.
Jonny: But then I remember, we started Kid A in Copenhagen in the middle of December, because we had this rightly inflated idea of ourselves that we were a... were a kind of cold northern European band. We need darkness and snow and, you know... which is just, it's just nonsense, really.
Another creepy CGI Thom shows up in a couple of Kid A blips—except it's only his head on a stick calmly gazing into space as digital snow falls on his face, making it twice as unsettling. Brrrrrrrr.
Vindicated by History - Kid A got mixed reviews when it first came out, but now it's considered the best album of the '00s by many (albeit mostly due to Pitchfork's obsession with it).
The band itself falls under this. When "Creep" was released they were quickly dismissed as a One-Hit Wonder, but steadily built up a fanbase with My Iron Lung EP and The Bends, then proceeded to basically invent modern-day alternative rock with OK Computer.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political? - Despite the overtones of a title like Hail To The Thief, the band denies it refers to the 2000 presidential election. However, they did admit to the album being about the rise of the far right, among other things. Thom Yorke claims the title is a reference to a slogan that became popular after the 1888 US presidential election, which ended with an outcome similar to the 2000 election.
Of course, Thom himself has stated otherwise, leaving things a little ambiguous.
The Woobie - Thom Yorke definitely qualifies as a real life example. He was born with a paralyzed left eyelid, had botched surgery that lead to his droopy eyelid, was teased as a kid for having to wear an eyepatch (of the non-powerful variety), had frequent bouts of self-destruction early in his career, and has had bouts of depression more recently. Combined with his signature "polite" falsetto and scathing lyrics, it's hard not to feel sorry for him—if you don't think he's a Jerkass for his distant attitude toward numerous other celebrities.