Why is Radiohead’s In Rainbows on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
A surprisingly warm tone gives way to something more fractured, shattered, and eventually becomes somewhat haunting. Well, this is Radiohead, right?
Some stats & info about Radiohead – In Rainbows
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? British Bands, Rock Music, Experimental Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #387
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was In Rainbows released? 2007
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #670 out of 1,000
Radiohead’s In Rainbows on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Radiohead’s In Rainbows mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Because this is the “first” Radiohead album you’ll find on this here best 1,000 albums ever project, it got me to thinking about band or artist “fandom,” for lack of a better word.
To state it up front and as tiny spoiler alert (that being you’re very likely to see more Radiohead as the project continues), I deeply respect Radiohead as a musical outfit and in fact I sometimes find myself in awe of their work. But they’re not in the highest, most “elite” group of my “favorite” bands.
Why? This gets into the deeply subjective nature of art and fandom and what is attractive to us. But, importantly, I absolutely dig them a whole hell of a lot. Here we go with In Rainbows at #670 of the best 1,000 albums ever, and as I’ve “admitted” above, there are more albums on the list to come (some maybe probably ranked quite high indeed).
Some of it has to do with the fact that I really started to get into Radiohead in my 30s. However, the same is true for me and The White Stripes, and as great as both outfits are, I’d much more naturally gravitate to the latter. Some of it has to do with how cerebral Radiohead’s music tends to be. I always get a lot out of the experience of listening to Radiohead, but… it kind of takes more mental horsepower than it takes to listen to “Canon” or “We’re Going to be Friends” or “My Doorbell,” you know?
Okay, back to In Rainbows. If not in lyrical content, the musical tone of In Rainbows is much warmer and organic than anything they produced post The Bends, let’s say. It’s a really interesting, somewhat unexpected, and pleasing change in direction from the colder, more electronic, and experimentally weird (and/but truly brilliant) music produced on the likes of OK Computer and Kid A. For those reasons, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” has become my favorite song on In Rainbows.
“15 Step” again has a surprisingly warm guitar tone that, when mapped against choppy-sounding electronic drums and other effects shows off what dazzling expertise this band has long had from a production standpoint. And it’s kind of mesmerizing that that warm tone kind of fractures and shatters as “15 Step” goes along, eventually becoming somewhat haunting. Well, this is Radiohead, right?
“Nude” is quiet and relatively spare. It stands out based on Thom Yorke’s performance – in his vocals you feel someone who is bewildered, world weary, and dealing with strange existence. The lyrics have a repeated line of, “Don’t get any big ideas, they’re not gonna happen” and “You paint yourself white, And fill up with noise, But there’ll be something missing.”
This is Radiohead!