by Ryan Wasoba
"Summer after high school when we first met / We make out in your Mustang to Radiohead"
Such is the opening couplet of "The One Who Got Away" by the inescapable Katy Perry. The namedrop is confusing. Radiohead is beyond famous at this point, so it's not necessarily a cred pull on Perry's part; if that was her goal, then "Ra Ra Riot" or "'Rounds' by Four Tet" fit just as well. "Met" and "head" are not exact rhymes, and Thom Yorke and company are not the first people you'd call upon to soundtrack a trip to first base. There are nuggets of sensuality in the band's catalog - even "Creep" or "Paranoid Android" could be sexy in some context - but for every kissable tune like "Fake Plastic Trees" or "House Of Cards," there's a track that's an audio equivalent of a cold shower. Here are the six least appropriate Radiohead songs to make out to.
6. "Morning Mr. Magpie" Radiohead's 2011 mini LP The King Of Limbs is its most vibe-reliant album, an extension of the smoky, candlelit moods the band conjured throughout In Rainbows. The atmosphere is actually kind of goofy on the record's second track, "Morning Mr. Magpie." Its drum and bass groove sounds like a Yamaha keyboard demo trying to emulate the chase scene funk of '70s b-movies. Thom Yorke says hello to a bird, and its status as a song title implies that this fact is crucial to the track's existence. Nobody wants to make out with the guy who goes to the park every afternoon to converse with and feed stale bread to the birds, or be reminded of that guy whilst in the making out process.
5. "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" Amnesiac is Radiohead's strangest collection of tracks. Its non-songs like "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" make people hate this record and wax nostalgic about the good old days of "High And Dry." The track is a dense electronic exploration not far from the post-IDM releases Warp Records was putting out a few years prior. Dance clubs have taught us of the inherent sexuality of electronic drums, so this song appears to fit nicely with some "Freedom kissing" (this is America, dammit). That is, until you notice the jerky rhythms, the distracting bursts of white noise, and the effected robot fetus voice. It's a nice track, and Amnesiac is a nice album, it's just that...I don't know, I'm just not in the mood anymore. I hope you understand.
4. "Just" Much of Radiohead's early work is standard-fare college rock, and I bet many dorm room listen-and-kissin' session occurred with a cassette copy of The Bends spinning in the boombox. Most of the material in the pre-OK Computer phase is no better or worse for a rendezvous than, say, R.E.M. or even the Cranberries. It was probably more appropriate than the Pixies. One exception is "Just," a generally spiteful rocker that's about as noisy as Radiohead got in 1995. The biggest dealbreaker is Yorke's opening line: "Can't get the stink out / He's been rotting here for days." Ewwwwwwww. 3. "We Suck Young Blood" Society has been trying to market the concept of the "hot vampire" for years. It's generally an easy sell, especially since the blood-sucking process is just "necking" with a few added fangs. On Hail To The Thief's weirdest track, we have some vampiric implications. Transylvanian minor chords, Thom Yorke singing "We suck young blood" followed by a chorus of Dracula ooohs. Seductive it is not. The track plows along in the most uncomfortable of tempos, its tempo anchored by the sloppiest group hand clap in music history. It eventually picks up, but sharply reverts right when it gets hot and heavy. Radiohead is pulling a trick from horror movies here, where a little bit of sex puts the character in a vulnerable spot in order to accentuate the inevitable gore. "We Suck Young Blood" is the perfect makeout song for a few seconds, just like how Brad Pitt seems like the perfect guy in Interview With The Vampire. Before you know it, you're stuck with the clap again and Mr. Jolie is drinking your soul. It's just not worth it, kids.
2. "Life In A Glass House" In our sense-memory banks, the sound of a Dixieland horn section reminds us of old people. Old people are often thought of as a distraction when an inappropriately timed romantic impulse strikes. Amnesiac closer "Life In A Glass House" prominently features a Dixieland horn section. Do the math.
1. "Fitter, Happier" Given its popularity, age, and demographic, I suspect OK Computer has been made out to more than any other Radiohead album. Therefore, "Fitter, Happier" has made more makeout parties uncomfortable than any other Radiohead track. Romance is one of the more specifically human attributes of our existence, and nothing is less human than an archaic Macintosh spitting out Thom Yorke's societal woes in digital monotone with eerie strings as a backdrop. If tongue locked lovers aren't self conscious enough already, they will be after hearing "still kisses with saliva" lodged as a complaint. Consider "Fitter, Happier" an economical abstinence ad. It teaches a self-control lesson in one minute and fifty seven seconds that some people only learn after nine months.