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YMMV / Radiohead

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  • Acceptable Targets: Businessmen, yuppies, and corporate figures are all sharply targeted in OK Computer.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Few people thought OK Computer was going to be successful, and the record was deemed a commercial suicide. Cue several million copies being sold (and debuting at #1 in the UK for two weeks), skyrocketing Radiohead's international fame, and frequently being listed as one of the greatest albums of all time.
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  • Anvilicious: Yorke's politics tend to veer into this during interviews (and arguably on Hail to the Thief).
  • Award Snub: There are lots of Radiohead fans who believe that if "Spectre" had been chosen as the official theme song for the Bond film it was written for, it would've won (or at least gotten nominated for) the Oscar for Best Original Song that was won instead by the theme song that was used, Sam Smith's "Writing On The Wall." note 
  • Awesome Art: Stanley Donwood's artwork has been a key factor to their career since The Bends, creating some of the most iconic album covers of all time, as well as just all-around amazing pieces of art to fit in with the themes of each album.
  • Broken Base:
    • Kid A was this initially, due to its Genre Shift to avant garde- and jazz-influenced electronica. It was Vindicated by History fairly quickly, though many stalwart fans of The Bends and OK Computer have not returned to the fandom.
    • The quality of Hail to the Thief and The King of Limbs are hotly debated. Some fans dislike TKOL's softer sound and short length (it's the shortest album in Radiohead's discography, clocking in at 38 minutes) and think the production and song choice are not all that interesting for a Radiohead album. Hail to the Thief, conversely, is the longest Radiohead album to date; this led to arguing over whether having more tracks on an album is good because it means more Radiohead, or worse because it makes the album too long and may lead to filler and unfinished songs.
    • The whole "Radiohead should've won an Oscar for 'Spectre'" debacle detailed in Award Snub above. Sam Smith's response to the song (has never heard it, doesn't know who Thom is) doesn't help the matters.
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    • The band's fanbase is heavily split over whether or not "Electioneering" is a good song. Some argue that it's a perfectly fine song on its own merit, others argue that it's good but not as good as the other OK Computer songs, and others argue that it sounds completely out of place on the album, what with the more blunt and straightforward approach instead of the normal ambiguity. Thom's statement that he retrospectively would've left the song off the album has done a fair amount to stir the pot.
    • While people are still stuck over Kid A, there's a huge factor of those who can't decide on which album is the best one: Kid A or OK Computer. Reasons range that OK Computer tends to suffer Hype Backlash while Kid A is a weird new breath of fresh air or Kid A is too weird in comparison to the cold and bleak OK Computer.
  • Catharsis Factor
  • Crazy Awesome: Thom Yorke's dancing. Hypnotizing, too.
    • Jonny Greenwood's "abusive guitar" also gets a mention, be it on this performance of "Bangers + 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.
  • Creepy Awesome: The band's art.
    • "Climbing Up the Walls."
    • Most or all of Kid A and Amnesiac.
    • "Ful Stop."
  • 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 "Lotus Flower".
  • Ensemble Dark Horse - Amnesiac is probably the band's least-recognized album outside of the fandom, with critics preferring Kid A and mainstream audiences preferring OK Computer and In Rainbows, but it has a stalwart following in hardcore Radiohead circles. 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", "Lotus Flower", and "Burn the Witch" are examples of Ensemble Dark Horses that transcended the fandom and become some of the band's best-known songs.
  • Epic Riff: Many.
    • "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 jangly riff that comes in about halfway through, making it an unusually upbeat closer for a Radiohead album.
    • "Idioteque", "Cuttooth", and "Morning Bell" 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.
  • Even Better Sequel: The Bends got a much better response than Pablo Honey.
    • OK Computer was even more critically acclaimed than The Bends.
    • Depending on who you ask, Kid A may be 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: Averted. Thom seems like a candidate for this, since the band has admitted that Thom has the most say in everything material-wise (and he's the frontman). However, the other members, most notably Jonny Greenwood, have a sizable amount of the fanbase's and media's attention.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Miley Cyrus attempted to invoke this. After the 2009 Grammys, Miley was snubbed by the band when she asked for a sitdown. When asked about it on the radio, she promptly went off on a highly emotional, nigh-unlistenable rant, swearing that she would "ruin them".note  Attempts to do so have not appeared on the media's radar, if they have been made at all. The tension between the fandoms is actually minor (and mostly VERY confused by her outburst, on both sides).
    • Played straight with Lana Del Ray, after Radiohead's management filed a major lawsuit against her for the similarities between "Creep" and her song "Get Free".
    • Another rivalry appears to be present between Radiohead fans and Oasis fans. Similarly to the Blur/Oasis rivalry, the Radiohead/Oasis rivalry seems to be at least partly rooted in British regionalism and the artsy/raw rivalry common among music listeners, with Radiohead being an artsy band from the British south and Oasis being a gritty band from the British north. There's also the wildly different musical styles between the two bands, and the fact that Oasis were the biggest representatives of early 90's British rock, while Radiohead where the main representatives of late 90's British rock.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: In most fans' eyes, Pablo Honey, either with the exception of or particularly "Creep". Although "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and "Blow Out" are widely considered the best songs off the album—if you dislike "Creep".note 
  • Friendly Fandoms: Radiohead and Boards of Canada have listed each other as influences, thus introducing fans of one to the other.
    • Thanks to Thom Yorke's repeated collaborations with Burial, their respective fandoms probably count (as with Modeselektor).
    • There's also a significant overlap between fans of Radiohead and fans of Björk. It helps that Thom Yorke has cited her as one of his favorite musicians.
  • Fridge Brilliance: "Myxomatosis" is about record companies destroying musicians' messages or altering them beyond recognition—that much is clear from the lyrics. Furthermore, 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—maybe Myxomatosis is (at least in part) about the record company forcing the band to remove "Cuttooth" from Amnesiac.
  • 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. Thom's response? "Good luck with Kid A!"
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Burn the Witch," with its video heavily inspired by The Wicker Man (1973), was released shortly before the death of its director Robin Hardy.
    • The aspects of A Moon Shaped Pool shaped by Thom's divorce from his wife of 23 years become astronomically sadder once you discover that his wife has passed away.
  • Ho Yay: Oh boy.
    • 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. But don't tell that to the shippers.
  • Hype Backlash: Many people are sick of the music community's obsession with the band, especially Kid A. OK Computer has become this for some in recent years due to multiple publications, fans, and just anyone listing OK Computer as the greatest album ever made and of course, people are gonna be overwhelmed.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: For all the critical acclaim their albums get, few people outside of the established fandom are able to name any individual track from any of them (with the exception of "Creep," because everyone knows "Creep"). The flipside of this is that the fandom is so dedicated that any one person can likely name any track (well, any post-Pablo Honey track, anyway) and are just as likely to love a semi-obscure b-side like "Cuttooth" or "Kinetic" as they are to love a high-profile single like "Paranoid Android" or "My Iron Lung".
  • Memetic Badass: Bizarrely enough, a song example. "Burn the Witch" was once legendary among Radiohead fans for being a total mystery: though the title was floating around since the Kid A/Amnesiac era, no recordings were heard and no lyrics were pinned down before it was released as the first single from A Moon Shaped Pool four albums and ten years later.
    • Thom fed the flames by telling a concert audience, after teasing a few chords of it on the piano, that "this will all sound much better when it's played by the orchestra." He wasn't lying about the orchestra.
  • Memetic Mutation
    • After the release of the music video for "Lotus Flower", fans started having fun setting Thom's dance to different music. Thom's dance goes with everything.
    • This picture of Thom in a 2008 interview has turned into a meme after receiving a "You sicken me" caption.
    • "thm"note 
    • Thom likes "The Gloaming".note 
    • Phil's hair has been a recurring joke amongst fans for a while.
    • "OK KID"note 
    • "Fat! Ugly! Dead!" note 
  • Misaimed Fandom: "Creep" is often quoted on pro-anorexia websites, for its lines "I don't care if it hurts/I wanna have control/I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul."
  • Mondegreen
    • "Power rangers, power rangers, power rangers, power rangers..." ("Sit Down, Stand Up", see above)
    • "Who the hell are the 'comma police?'"
    • From "Go to Sleep": "This is hiiiiighly insulting."
    • "You can try domestic ham, you can try domestic ham, domestic ham is good enough."
    • "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box": Aboriginal man, get off my cakes!
    • From "Burn the Witch": "This is a lo-fi banker tax."
  • Moral Event Horizon: "I Will" is Thom's reaction to women and children being bombed in their bunkers during the Gulf War.
    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.
    • The band themselves are a case of this; despite releasing their first album in 1993 and generally being associated with the mainstream Alternative Rock movement of the 1990's and early 2000's, Radiohead's been around since 1985.
  • Old Guard Versus New Blood: It can be argued that some recent Radiohead albums (such as Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows) have been trying to strike this sort of balance.
  • 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.
  • Paranoia Fuel: "Climbing Up the Walls" draws on Thom's time spent working in a mental hospital:
    • "A Wolf at the Door" 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."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Rumor has it that "Pearly*" was inspired by a Japanese girl who prostituted herself in order to get Radiohead tickets, much to Thom's horror.
    • Hail to the Thief followed both 9/11 and the birth of Thom's son and has very, very heavy political overtones. For specific song examples, "I Will" was inspired by a news scene of a bunker full of women and kids being bombed during the first Gulf War; "Sail to the Moon" was reportedly written in five minutes for Thom's son.
      • In addition, "A Punchup at a Wedding" was inspired by Thom getting extremely upset after reading a very negative and caustic review of an Oxford show that was intended to be a homecoming concert.
  • 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.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Someone who's already familiar with Coldplay, early Muse, Keane, and Travis might listen to The Bends and not get what all the fuss is about. The band has averted this for most of its other albums by going much darker than their contemporaries on OK Computer and delving into Genre-Busting on Kid A and Amnesiac.
  • Signature Song: "Creep", "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android" are the songs Radiohead are best known for among the general public, but opinions vary widely within the fandom.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Climate change sucks. Climate change denial sucks, too. Political corruption also sucks, especially when innocent people suffer for it. Whether or not you think references to these issues in Radiohead's music are anvilicious, there is certainly cause for concern.
  • Song Association: Lots of instances. "Exit Music (for a Film)" and "Talk Show Host" being used in (and in the former's case, written fornote ) William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, "15 Step" being used in Twilight, "Everything in Its Right Place" being used in Vanilla Sky, "Life in a Glasshouse" being used in Children of Men, "High and Dry" being used in 50/50...the list goes on.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The Bends is a lot more refined than Pablo Honey.
    • In Rainbows is generally considered to be far better than Hail to the Thief (which is generally considered to be good, but at the time had led to fears that the band had become too self-indulgent.)
    • Some fans believe that A Moon Shaped Pool is this for The King of Limbs, the latter of which is often accused of being too light and short.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Some fingers were pointed at "Knives Out" for its melody being taken from (if not heavily influenced by) "Paranoid Android".
    • "15 Step" is just a bit too similar to Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature".
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel:
    • "Worrywort".
    • The sounds after "Motion Picture Soundtrack" are beyond heavenly.
    • The bridge of "Reckoner".
    • "15 Step" is extremely upbeat, despite the anxious lyrics.
    • "How I Made My Millions", an emotional and informally recorded piano ballad.
    • Whenever Thom says "release me" in "Morning Bell" (either version). It gets even better with the Kid 17 version.
    • "(Nice Dream)".
    • "Nude" is both sonically beautiful and emotionally distressing.
    • "Separator".
    • "Daydreaming"... well, until the ending.
    • "Give Up the Ghost" may be a Tear Jerker, but that coda with the layers upon layers of vocals also qualifies as this trope.
      • TKOL as a whole might fit, depending on who you ask.
    • "Desert Island Disk" is the lightest and probably the most affirming song on ''A Moon Shaped Pool."
  • Tear Jerker: They have their own page now.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The initial reaction of some to the drastic change the band made in Kid A. Some fans reacted to The King Of Limbs this way, too.
  • Tough Act to Follow: It's been said that Radiohead's biggest competition is their own back catalog. OK Computer and Kid A stand out as the defining, game-changing moments for the band—maybe even for popular music at large.
  • True Art Is Angsty:
    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.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Kid A and Amnesiac are definite candidates. The band has denied being purposefully difficult, however.
  • Ugly Cute: The Kid A Bear and the Weeping Minotaur.
    • Thom Yorke.
  • Uncanny Valley:
  • 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 (a verdict that Pitchfork might have had a hand in).
    • Even Pablo Honey got vindicated, being considered one of the best debut albums in recent years.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The data visualization effects in the "House of Cards" video.
  • 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.


Example of: