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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Radiohead Songs

You chose ‘Fake Plastic Trees,’ ‘Karma Police,’ ‘Reckoner’ and more


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Radiohead released King of Limbs back in February, but for some reason they waited until last month to actually promote the thing. They did a full-on New York media assault, appearing on Saturday Night Live, the Colbert Report and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, in addition to two shows at Roseland Ballroom. With all the attention surrounding the group, we figured this was a good time to ask our readers to vote for their favorite songs by the band. You guys came out in big numbers, and selected some deep cuts that'll probably surprise some people. Click through to see the results. 

By Andy Greene

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4. ‘Karma Police’

"Karma Police" began as an inside joke with Radiohead around the time that they toured with Alanis Morissette in the summer of 1996. When somebody in the band acted like a dick, someone would warn them that the Karma Police were coming after them. An early version of the song was premiered on that tour, but they finished it in the studio when the tour wrapped up. The track was a single on OK Computer and it got them a fair amount of play on alternative radio at the time. 

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3. ‘Fake Plastic Trees’

They'll never admit it now, but many people first heard "Fake Plastic Trees" in the movie Clueless. It's in the scene where Cher comes home and finds her step-brother (and future boyfriend) Josh in her house. It's playing on the radio. "Yuk! Uh, the maudlin music of the university station," she says. "What is it about college and cry-baby music?" It's definitely a cry-baby song, especially the acoustic version used in the film, but it's also one of Radiohead's most anthemic songs. The first notes of it are guaranteed to send any crowd at a Radiohead show into absolute hysterics. 

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2. ‘Creep’

When "Creep" hit MTV in 1993, Radiohead seemed destined to be another One Hit Wonder alt-rock band. At best, they'd wind up like Better Than Ezra and "Creep" would be their "Good." The band had a dislike for the song from pretty early on (those famous guitar scratches are Jonny Greenwood trying to mess up what he thought was a boring song) and they even wrote "My Iron Lung" about how much they hated playing the song over and over again during their early days. After OK Computer broke big they pretty much stopped playing it, though it started to pop up on setlists a lot over the past five or so years. Yorke says it's been so long that the song almost feels like a cover song at this point. They even started opening with the song on their 2009 tour, guaranteeing that fans wouldn't drive them crazy by yelling for it all night. 

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1. ‘Paranoid Android’

If you had to play somebody one Radiohead song to convince them of the band's brilliance, it should probably be "Paranoid Android." Over the period of six minutes it showcases the beautiful quiet textures, and the arena-rock ready bombast the band is capable of achieving. It also inspired hipsters to work around New York with T-shirts that just say "Gucci Little Piggy." The track began as three separate songs, but drawing inspiration from the Beatles' "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," they just combined them all together. In a bold move, they released it as the first single from OK Computer, and refused to cut it down for radio. It still managed to get some airplay. Yorke has said it's about the fall of the Roman Empire, but good luck finding anything in the lyrics that seem related to that topic in any way.