Let’s cut the shit. I’m gonna tell you the real, ultimate, super best Radiohead song of all time, ever. It’s…
It’s “Reckoner.” I’m gonna have a tough time explaining why, but let’s work backwards from this video. I can watch it a thousand times and still get chills when the instruments drop out and we’re left alone with Thom’s voice. That’s gotta be one of the most perfect sounds ever captured on tape. Then, with no fanfare or buildup, the instruments return, just the same as before, but somehow they feel oversaturated and doubly potent. It’s such an incredible moment.
I’d love to be able say “Reckoner” represents everything good about Radiohead, but that’s not really true. It doesn’t have any of the dark, paranoid, or unsettled energy that characterizes much of their best work. But I do think it’s the most beautiful song they’ve written. The guitar is melodic and perky, but restrained in a wonderfully tantilizing way, leaving room for the insistent percussion to fill the song with a rush of percolating optimism.
So yeah, I adore the song. If I had to listen to a single track on repeat for the rest of my life, from Radiohead or anyone else, I’d choose “Reckoner”. It’s as good as it gets.