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Music / In Rainbows

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"Don't get any big ideas. They're not gonna happen."
"This is your warning, four minute warning."

"You used to be alright — what happened?"
— "15 Step"

In Rainbows is the seventh studio album by English Alternative Rock band Radiohead. Released in 2007 after two years of production, it served as their comeback album after a 4-year hiatus following their last release, Hail to the Thief, in which the band members took a break and pursued individual projects (including singer Thom Yorke creating his first solo album The Eraser, and guitarist Jonny Greenwood scoring the films Bodysong and There Will Be Blood).

The album is also their first on XL Recordings, onto which Yorke was already signed as a solo artist, having left their old UK and US labels Parlophone Records and Capitol Records (respectively) due to them having already fulfilled their six-album contract with EMI, as well as due to the band's growing dissatisfaction with major label culture. The band and their individual members would continue to release both Radiohead and solo material through XL in the years since.

The album employs distinctly more personal lyricism than previous Radiohead albums, also incorporating a variety of instrumentation that includes electronics, strings, piano, and the ondes Martenot.

In Rainbows was also notable for its innovative release style: the band initially self-released the album onlinenote , with a "pay what you want" system allowing fans to download the album for a price of their choosing, including for free. This was the first of such releases by a major music act and was subject to mass media coverage and debate, although it was promptly discontinued for future albums. The decision to utilize the system for this album in particular was influenced by a Content Leak of an unfinished draft of Hail to the Thief that drew the band's ire (not because Digital Piracy Is Evil, but because it meant people were hearing an unfinished product). The influence was so strong that the band referred to the album's date of release as their "leak date", with several selling points for the release style being that it would prevent leaks and ensure that fans around the world would experience the album at the same time.

Following the band's dissatisfaction with the influx of tracks on Hail to the Thief, they vowed to avoid the same mistake with In Rainbows, settling on a 10-song tracklist and saving any additional material for limited-edition releases. This led to the special edition of the album including a second disc of 8 extra songs, known simply as In Rainbows Disk 2. The songs were uploaded to the band's website in 2009, and subsequently to streaming services as an EP in 2016.

In Rainbows debuted at #1 in both the US and the UK, and in one year sold 3 million copies in both physical and digital formats. The album was supported by three singles: "Jigsaw Falling into Place", "Nude", and "Reckoner"; "House of Cards" was also released as a promotional single. In addition to these singles and their music videos, every other song received their own music videos via a contest in 2008 where fans submitted storyboards for video ideas, with the winners being given $10,000 to make their visions a reality. The band also promoted the album with the Thumbs Down and Scotch Mist webcasts, in which they performed a variety of songs off of In Rainbows, covered other artists, and showcased poetry, music videos and additional content.


Disc 1

  1. "15 Step" (3:58)
  2. "Bodysnatchers" (4:02)
  3. "Nude" (4:15)
  4. "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi" (5:18)
  5. "All I Need" (3:48)
  6. "Faust Arp" (2:09)
  7. "Reckoner" (4:50)
  8. "House of Cards" (5:28)
  9. "Jigsaw Falling into Place" (4:09)
  10. "Videotape" (4:42)

Disc 2

  1. "MK 1" (1:03)
  2. "Down is the New Up" (4:59)
  3. "Go Slowly" (3:48)
  4. "MK 2" (0:53)
  5. "Last Flowers" (4:26)
  6. "Up on the Ladder" (4:17)
  7. "Bangers + Mash" (3:19)
  8. "4 Minute Warning" (4:04)

You are not to blame for bittersweet tropers:

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    Disc 1 
  • Album Title Drop: The rising background voices during the bridge of "Reckoner":
    Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore in rainbows
  • Alice Allusion: See Cheshire Cat Grin below.
  • Animal Motifs: "All I Need:"
    (...) I'm an animal trapped in your hot car
    (...) I'm a moth who just wants to share your light
    (...) I'm just an insect trying to get out of the night
    • Also, "weird fishes", "the elephant that's in the room" ("Faust Arp"), and two references to cats in "15 Step" and "Jigsaw Falling into Place".
  • Animated Music Video:
    • "15 Step" features a surreal parody of Osomatsu-kun by Japanese animator Kota Totori.
    • The music video for "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi", directed by Tobias Stretch, depicts a Stop Motion race between a group of various eclectic figures, whose designs draw from ancient and folk mythology.
    • Clement Picon's video for "Reckoner" is a CGI animation depicting a continuously changing landscape.
    • The music video for "House of Cards" features rotoscoped footage of the band members, suburban landscapes, and a party scene rendered with 3D plotters.
  • Arc Number: 10. In Rainbows has ten letters, the album has ten tracks, tens are prominent in album artwork and promo material, and it was announced ten days before release.
    • It was released ten years after OK Computer, which makes some believe that the two are companion albums.
    • The record was announced on October 1st and came out on the 10th.
    • Then there is the 01 and 10 playlist. It sounds even better if you set a 10 second crossfade on your player.
  • Audience Participation Song: Everyone does the stomp clap thing for "15 Step."
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Videotape." Despite being an utterly heart-shattering track, it bows out on: "Today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen."
  • Brutal Honesty: "Nude:"
    Don't get any
    Big ideas
    They're not
    Gonna happen
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Referenced by name in "Jigsaw Falling into Place:"
    You got a Cheshire cat grin
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Animated Music Video for "Reckoner" is rendered mostly in black and white, while the live-action Performance Video for "Jigsaw Falling into Place" is shot entirely in black and white.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tying in with its Intentionally Awkward Title and its Double Entendre-laden lyrics, the music video for "Nude" features the band being hit with various bursts of down feathers in slow-motion, in a manner meant to be reminiscent of being ejaculated on.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: The album was distributed through a "pay what you want" system that got lots of media attention, although the band has now discontinued it.
  • Double Entendre: The lyrics to "Nude" can either be read as the narrator's disgust towards a pervert or a commentary on depersonalization and depression.
  • Genre Mashup: "Nude" mixes together dub music and Dream Pop, with the drums and bassline deriving from the former genre and the vocals, synths, and guitars drawing from the latter.
  • Genre Roulette: Like every album Radiohead has done since OK Computer, each song has it's own distinct style. You have the Breakbeat-influenced Krautrock "15 Step," the Garage-y Hard Rock of "Bodysnatchers," the dub-infused Dream Pop number "Nude," the psychedelic "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," and the Post-Rock-like "All I Need." And that's just the first half of the album!
  • Gratuitous Panning: "Reckoner" splits the percussion to feature the drums solely in the right channel and maracas in the left, with the other instruments in the backing track being centered in the mix.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: One song on the album is called "Nude".
  • Last Note Nightmare: "15 Step" keeps a consistent 5/4 rhythm and consistent key until the very end of the song, which fades out on a distorted off-key chord. In the Animated Music Video, it's made even scarier with a completely Off-Model gun zooming in toward the viewer.
  • Lighter and Softer: Don't get us wrong; there's plenty of Thom Yorke's angst in the tracks, but the overall sound is a lot lighter and less oppressive than their previous works.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "15 Step" is a very warm and upbeat song about a failed love that at least partially uses metaphors connected to suicide, with instances such as the line revolving around the Title Drop ("15 steps, then a sheer drop").
  • Motor Mouth: "Faust Arp".
  • Mythology Gag: The text on the tracklist and in the liner notes being spread out so that every line occupies the same amount of space recalls a similar technique used on the disc label for I Might Be Wrong, the band's sole live album from 2001.
  • New Sound Album: Retreated from the experimental sound they had been working with for more of a mainstream sound that initially didn't go over very well with the fans.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Nude", "Faust Arp"
  • Obsession Song: "All I Need".
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: In "Bodysnatchers;" it was one of the lines that got turned into a shirt:
    Blink your eyes
    Once for yes
    Two for no
  • One-Word Title: "Bodysnatchers," "Nude," "Reckoner," and "Videotape."
  • Performance Video: The music video for "Jigsaw Falling into Place" depicts the band performing in the studio, as seen through helmet-mounted cameras pointed at their faces.
  • Rotoscoping: Used throughout the music video for "House of Cards" via 3D plotters that measure and visualize relative distances, providing a surreal and disorienting effect.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Videotape:"
    When Mephistopheles is just beneath
  • Splash of Color: The otherwise Deliberately Monochrome music video for "Reckoner" briefly shifts to color during the growth of a tree on a small planetoid before gradually fading back to black and white.
  • Stealth Pun: The song title "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi". "Arpeggi" is the Italian plural of "arpeggio". And fishes have scales. Scales and arpeggi.
  • Title Track: "Reckoner" is a subversion, but the album is named after a line in the song ("because we separate / like ripples on a blank shore / in rainbows").
  • Uncommon Time: "15 Step" is in 5/4.

    Disc 2