Let’s reflect for a moment on the beautiful oddity that Radiohead remains one of the biggest rock bands in the world, at a time when the very concept of “biggest rock band in the world” is often looked at as passé. If rock and roll’s moment has indeed passed, what in the name of the Beatles possesses people to follow Radiohead, of all artists, as if members of a religious cult, especially because said religious cult would not particularly worship rock and roll music as most people know it? It would be easy to ascribe the Radiohead following to their shapeshifting, and indeed there is an incredible variety of material across their nine-so-far records and various EPs, live cuts, and so forth. Yet it’s not as if A Moon Shaped Pool, their 2016 album and first in five years, is wildly unrecognizable as the same band that made The King of Limbs, which itself was not so radically different from In Rainbows, and so on, all the way back to the late ’90s (I’ll grant you that, OK, Pablo Honey sounds like a vastly different band, albeit an actually-pretty-good one; better, certainly, than the practitioners of Old Radiohead that cropped up in the early ’00s, a litany of Nerf Herders and Saves the Days to Radiohead’s Weezer).
In fact, it’s their ability to remain recognizably the Radiohead of the ’90s while going in different directions that makes them so exciting. A new Radiohead album, insular and strange and inscrutable as it can be, is still an event, the band’s mutations allowing it to survive the alt-rock boom, the rap-rock bust, the indie gold rush, the death of the album, and on and on. It was a no-brainer, then, that some of the founders, friends, and associates of SportsAlcohol.com would want to pledge our allegiance to the paranoid humanoids of Radiohead once again, through a list celebrating their best songs. Contributors were asked to send a ranked list of twenty; points were assigned accordingly.
In addition to your pals Rob, Marisa, Jesse, Sara, and special guest writer Maggie, we recruited a voting team ranging from people old enough to remember “Creep” playing on MTV to people who were born the year The Bends came out. Here are your Radiohead fans par excellence:
Darian Alexander is an attorney and Radiohead correspondent for Slate.
Emma Bennett is studying psychology and studio art at SUNY New Paltz.
Noah Casner is a drama major at New York University.
Timothy DeLizza is a lawyer, a fiction writer, and a gentleman.
A.A. Dowd is the film editor for The Onion’s A.V. Club.
Derrick Hart is an archivist and music fan.
Kate McKean is a literary agent, writer, and crafter.
Umer Piracha might love A Moon Shaped Pool more than anyone else who voted.
Ben Ross has had Radiohead blurbs locked and loaded for years.
The results heavily favored OK Computer, but well over half of Radiohead’s catalog received votes, including most of the new album. But why discuss the results when you can read a series of varied and passionate tributes to our collective favorites? Sometimes we had such varied and passionate responses that we doubled up the blurbing to get a fuller picture of this band we all love. Surprises, please: