Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"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 extremely popular Alternative Rock group from England. 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, Hail to the Thief) before returning to a slightly more mainstream sound (In Rainbows). Their 2nd to last album, The King of Limbs, sees the band dabble in electronic experimentation once more, with a distinct dubstep influence in places.

The members have also put out solo albums (which have gone on to have less success than the main band's work); in particular, 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". He's set to score another film by Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master".

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.

Radiohead's artwork is quite weird. The website for the man responsible for most of that artwork, Stanley Donwood, is just as odd.

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 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.


Studio albums:

  • Pablo Honey (1993)
  • The Bends (1995)
  • OK Computer (1997)
  • Kid A (2000)
  • Amnesiac (2001)
  • Hail to the Thief (2003) [not to be confused with the trope of the same name]
  • In Rainbows (2007)
  • The King of Limbs (2011)
  • A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)


  • 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")
  • 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)

There was a rumor circulating around the internets that the band would release a EP called Wall of Ice on August 17, 2009. Many news sources picked up the story, but it was proved untrue. Instead, Radiohead simply confirmed that the song that started this rumor - "These Are My Twisted Words" - was indeed them, and posted the single for free on their site and the torrent hosting site Mininova.

Radiohead provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Adult Fear - "A Wolf at the Door."
    • 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.
  • After the End - The "Pyramid Song" video.
  • Album Title Drop - The very first words on the album Kid A. It's heavily processed, but it's there. Interestingly enough, the title isn't mentioned in the album's title track.
    • "2+2=5" has "All Hail to The Thief, all hail to the thief, but I'm not").
    • "The Bends", quite obviously, drops the selfsame 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Audience Participation Song: Everybody sings along to "Idioteque."
    • The audience supplies the claps for "We Suck Young Blood," and does the stomp-clap thing for "15 Step."
    • "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and "Myxomatosis."
    • "Subterranean Homesick Alien" became this at the Roseland Ballroom performance; it had stopped being performed live after the OK Computer tour, and while it was popular among fans, it didn't seem as though it would be played again. And then...

Thom: They're all...
Audience: Uptight! Uptight!

    • Some fans have memorized the entire Piss-Take Rap of "A Wolf at the Door" and chant along with it in concert.
    • Mass lie-downs, mimicking the "Just" video, have apparently been planned among fans for performances of the song
  • Audio Erotica - "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" uses this to sound like an Intercourse with You song, when it's actually about ignoring imminent economic disaster.
  • Auto-Tune - In "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box," Thom spoke the words and applied autotune to create the melody. It's meant to sound as cold and robotic as possible, since the song is about everyone being apathetic and part of a system.
    • For "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors", Thom actually sang the lyrics but ran the vocals through 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 still up in the air whether it's autotune or a vocoder effect. 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)."
  • 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 Bucher", 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.
  • Bishonen - Jonny Greenwood.
  • 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!"

  • Black Sheep Hit - "Creep".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Call Back - The lines "I don't know why I feel so tongue tied/don't know why I feel so skinned alive" were first used in "Cuttooth", a track that was supposed to be on Amnesiac but was held off for unknown reasons. They later show up in "Myxomatosis", which is about Executive Meddling.
    • The "no no no no no" Madness Mantra in "A Wolf at the Door" may be callback to "A Punch Up at a Wedding."
  • Careful with That Axe - At the end of "Climbing Up The Walls".
    • From "2+2=5:"


    • Thom's yell at the beginning of "Cuttooth."
  • 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," "Pyramid Song") make it difficult to tell this.
  • Concept Album - To many, OK Computer qualifies, although the band denies it.
    • Kid A and Amnesiac are suspect, 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 tramautic" 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 titles ("Bloom", "Morning Mr. Magpie", "Lotus Flower") indicate a strong nature theme.
    • 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.
  • Creepy Monotone - "Fitter Happier".
    • Also "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors".
    • Kid A, Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box... both of which were distorted heavily.
  • Creator Backlash - Radiohead grew to hate their first hit song "Creep" because people would show up to their concerts exclusively to hear it, acting indignant until they played it and leaving immediately afterwards. They continued to play it reluctantly, usually stating how they have no respect for the people that wanted to hear it right before. They eventually cut the song from their setlist for a long period of time, and wrote "My Iron Lung" as a reaction ("This/This is our new song/Just like the last one/A total waste of time/My iron lung"). They even asked every single band who were playing on the Pyramid Stage (which they headlined) at Glastonbury 2003 if they'd be so kind to perform it so they didn't have to (the duty taken up by Moby instead). Now it seems that they've warmed up to it, since they played "Creep" several times in 2009.
    • It's sort of weirdly ironic that "Creep" and "My Iron Lung" are, at the time of writing, the only Radiohead songs in the Rock Band catalogue. (Creep is on-disc for the first game, My Iron Lung is DLC.)
    • Thom Yorke also dislikes another early hit, "High and Dry", saying "It's not bad... it's very bad." Radiohead hasn't played it for a decade.
    • There's a much more minor example, in that every member has expressed regrets about Hail To The Thief, but it's more that it's not as good as it could have been rather than that it's bad.
  • Creator Breakdown - Thom Yorke's periods of depression largely inspire the bleak tone of much of his work. Most notably, his trouble coping with the attention that the band received after the success of OK Computer largely caused the much more challenging music in Kid A and Amnesiac.
  • 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.
    • Any of the Kid A blips could qualify for this. They're either downright horrifying/disturbing or simply weird.
  • 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 by a third party before its release, which angered the band; however, they were not upset because of the download, but 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."

    • 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 Artist's 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."
  • Driven to Suicide - "No Surprises" and "Videotape".
    • The video for "Pyramid Song".
  • Dye Hard - Some fans can date Radiohead photoshoots by album era based off the cut and color of Thom's hair [dead link].
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Even the Guys Want Him - Thom Yorke. This is ironic, because he doesn't exactly scream sex symbol... but somehow even heterosexual 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").
  • Everything Is Worse With Bears - 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.
  • Facecam - The "Jigsaw Falling into Place" music video.
  • Fading Into the Next Song - "Exit Music" into "Let Down" (sort of), "Idioteque" into "Morning Bell", and "Codex" 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.
  • Five-Man Band - In a literal sense!
  • Four More Measures - In "Creep", Jonny Greenwood came in too early before the chorus (some sources say this was intentional and that he wanted to ruin the song). However, the rest of the band liked it and decided to Throw It In.
  • 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 - Many albums, especially Amnesiac. It's got electronica ("Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box", "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors", "Like Spinning Plates"), rock ("I Might Be Wrong", "Knives Out"), jazz ("Life In A Glasshouse"), 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.
      • Strangely, a recent 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.
  • 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.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band - They're named after the Talking Heads song "Radio Head."
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He's Back To Save The Universe: "Airbag." In an interstellar burst, no less.
  • 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 will eat you all alive and I will eat you all alive and I will eat you all alive

  • 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".
    • 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.[1]
  • Instrumentals - "Treefingers", "Hunting Bears", and technically "Fitter Happier", since all the singing is actually done by a computer.
    • 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 refusing to pay attention corruption in the government and banks until it's too late.
  • 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. [2]
  • Last-Note Nightmare - "Karma Police". As the rather mellow melody of the song fades out at the end, some very dissonant feedback fades in... which is in turn followed by a nice closing piano chord.
    • Every song on Kid A has one of these, save "Treefingers" and "Motion Picture Soundtrack"
  • 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".
  • 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 Lineup - Type 1. They've been together since either 1985 (when they formed On A Friday) or 1991 (when they signed to a label and changed their name to Radiohead)--whatever way you slice it, it's been well over twenty years.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art - For Amnesiac. It's taken to an extreme with the deluxe edition, [dead link] which is the red book pictured on the cover; the title is printed on the spine.
  • Misogyny Song - "Nude" is a vicious deconstruction of them.
  • Motor Mouth - Thom in "A Wolf at the Door."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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," (though this almost drops its title 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...
  • Nothing Is Scarier - Nobody knows what the horrible thing that "Kid A" represented to Thom Yorke was.
  • 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. The narrator eventually becomes so obsessed with the target of his affections (who it's implied doesn't even know he exists) that he eventually goes mad and, well...
  • Older Than They Look - Jonny Greenwood, although age seems to have caught up with him more recently.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune - "Kid A".
    • Also "No Surprises", which doesn't actually use a music box but still sounds like a lullaby. The lyrics describe depression, overwork, and pollution, among other things.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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".
    • A milder version: the jarring Precision S Strike in "Fitter Happier" ("that's driven into / frozen winter shit").
  • Promoted Fanboy: Just about all of the collaborators on "TKOL RMX 1234567."
  • Pop Star Composer - Jonny Greenwood, who has scored Bodysong, There Will Be Blood, and Norwegian Wood. Funnily enough, his compositions sound nothing like Radiohead.
  • 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 rearranged on Amnesiac as, appropriately, "Morning Bell/Amnesiac".
    • The b-side "Fog" was rearranged live on piano and titled "Fog (Again)".
  • 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 "Myxomytosis".
    • The phrase "staring up inside of me" is used in "Inside My Head" (a b-side to "Creep") and "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out - The title of "Subterranean Homesick Alien" to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
  • 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.
  • Signature Song - It's hard to say for sure here- "Creep", for better or for worse, 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.
  • 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.
  • Something Completely Different - Kid A and Amnesiac. (See note on New Sound Album above.)
  • 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).
  • 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 master track. 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.

"...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.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Sulk" ascends from G to A for its guitar solo and final chorus.
  • Two Plus Torture Equals Five - The title of "2+2=5", which is a direct reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • 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. "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.
  • Wasted Song - 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.
    • In a less depressing example, Thom Yorke has expressed regret at not releasing "Everything in its Right Place" as a single.
    • "Putting Ketchup In The Fridge" was a hoax song that passed itself off as this for a while but was eventually caught.
  • What Could Have Been - The B-side "Cuttooth," well-liked among the community, was very nearly included on Amnesiac, but held off at the last minute for reasons unknown.
    • There were plans to release Kid A and Amnesiac as a double album.
  • 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 of God - Averted by the video for "Just": the final line that the man lying in the street says is not subtitled, and the cuts between odd camera angles make lip reading impossible. The band have refused to say what the line is. Lip-readers making the attempt have said it seems to be "I like banana yoghurt".
    • Thom himself stepped in with the true lyrics of "Pearly" ("Darling use me") when he saw that fans were hearing it "Daddy hurts me."
  • 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.,

    • Two quite literal examples of Word Salad Lyrics come from "Idioteque" and "Cuttooth"- both of which have meanings, but are disguised by the jumbled words and phrases. 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

      • 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: "The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold)," "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy," and "A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag doll.)"
  • Zeroes and Ones: A working title for OK Computer.


  1. The actual lyrics are "You are not mine/ And I am not yours/ And that's okay/Please don't judge me". How they got from that to the smeared vocals of the album version is anybody's guess.
  2. His clunky Doc Martens almost caused him to drown; he also almost grabbed onto a live wire in an attempt to pull himself out.