In Rainbows

For the video album, see In Rainbows – From the Basement.
In Rainbows
Studio album by Radiohead
Released 10 October 2007
Recorded February 2005 – June 2007
Length 42:39
Producer Nigel Godrich
Radiohead chronology
COM LAG (2plus2isfive)
In Rainbows
Radiohead Box Set
Singles from In Rainbows
  1. "Jigsaw Falling into Place"
    Released: 14 January 2008
  2. "Nude"
    Released: 31 March 2008
  3. "House of Cards / Bodysnatchers"
    Released: May 2008
  4. "Reckoner"
    Released: 23 September 2008
  5. "All I Need"
    Released: 5 January 2009 (promotional)

In Rainbows is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Radiohead, self-released on 10 October 2007 as a pay-what-you-want download. It was followed by a physical release internationally by XL Recordings on 3 December 2007 and in the United States on 1 January 2008 by TBD Records. It was Radiohead's first release after their six-album recording contract with EMI ended with their previous album Hail to the Thief (2003).

Radiohead worked on In Rainbows for more than two years, beginning in early 2005. In mid-2006, after their initial recording sessions with their new producer Spike Stent proved fruitless, the band toured Europe and North America performing In Rainbows material, before re-enlisting their longtime producer Nigel Godrich. The album's songwriting is more personal than previous Radiohead albums, with singer Thom Yorke describing most of the songs as his versions of "seduction songs".[4] Radiohead incorporated a variety of musical styles and instruments, using electronic instruments, string arrangements, pianos, and the ondes Martenot.

The album's pay-what-you-want release, the first for a major act, made headlines around the world and sparked debate about implications for the music industry. The physical release debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200 chart. By October 2008, In Rainbows had sold over three million copies worldwide. It received critical acclaim and was ranked one of the best albums of 2007 and the decade by many publications. It won two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package. In 2012, Rolling Stone placed In Rainbows at number 336 on their updated list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


In 2004, after finishing the world tour in support of their sixth studio album Hail to the Thief (2003), Radiohead went on hiatus. As Hail to the Thief was the last album released on Radiohead's six-album contract with EMI, the band had no contractual obligation to release new material. Drummer Phil Selway said: "It was definitely time to take a break. There was still a desire amongst us to make music, but also a realisation that other aspects of our lives were being neglected. And we’d come to the end of our contract, which gives you a natural point to look back over at what you've achieved as a band."[5] Singer and songwriter Thom Yorke worked on his first solo album, The Eraser (2006), and multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood worked on soundtracks for the films Bodysong (2004) and There Will Be Blood (2007).[5]


In March 2005, Radiohead entered their Oxfordshire studio and began writing and recording new music. In an effort to "get out of the comfort zone", they decided against involving producer Nigel Godrich, with whom they had recorded five albums.[6] Regular recording sessions began in August 2005, with the band updating fans on their progress intermittently on their new blog, Dead Air Space. The sessions were slow, and the band struggled to regain confidence; according to Yorke, "we spent a long time in the studio just not going anywhere, wasting our time, and that was really, really frustrating."[7] Guitarist Ed O'Brien said the band considered splitting up, but kept working "because when you got beyond all the shit and the bollocks, the core of these songs were really good."[5] They attributed their slow progress to a lack of momentum after their break[7] and the lack of deadline and producer.[5]

Radiohead performing live at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley, California, during their 2006 tour. Radiohead used the tour to test songs later recorded for In Rainbows.

In December 2005, Radiohead asked producer Spike Stent, who had worked with artists including U2 and Björk, to help them work through their material. O'Brien told Mojo: "Spike listened to the stuff we'd been self-producing. These weren't demos, they’d been recorded in proper studios, and he said, 'The sounds aren't good enough.'"[5] The collaboration with Stent was unsuccessful and ended in April 2006.[6] In an effort to break the deadlock, Radiohead decided to tour for the first time since 2004; according to Yorke, "We basically had all these half-formed songs, and we just had to get it together. And rather than it being a nightmare, it was really, really good fun, because suddenly everyone is being spontaneous and no one's self-conscious because you're not in the studio ... It felt like being 16 again."[7] In May and June 2006, Radiohead toured major cities in Europe and North America and returned to Europe for several festivals in August, performing many new songs.[7]

After the tour, Radiohead re-enlisted Godrich, who, according to Yorke, "gave us a walloping kick up the arse".[8] In October 2006, recording started at Tottenham House in Marlborough, Wiltshire, a country house scouted by Godrich where Radiohead worked for three weeks. The band members lived in caravans, as the building was in a state of disrepair;[5] Yorke described it as "derelict in the stricter sense of the word, where there's holes in the floor, rain coming through the ceilings, half the window panes missing ... There were places you just basically didn't go. It definitely had an effect. It had some pretty strange vibes."[8] The sessions were productive, and the band recorded "Jigsaw Falling into Place" and "Bodysnatchers".[9] In October, Yorke wrote on Dead Air Space that Radiohead had "started the record properly now ... starting to get somewhere I think. Finally."[10]

In December 2006, further sessions took place at Halswell House, Taunton and Godrich's Hospital Studios in Covent Garden, where the band recorded "Videotape" and "Nude".[5] In January 2007, Radiohead resumed recording in their Oxfordshire studio and started to post photos, lyrics, videos and samples of new songs on Dead Air Space.[11] In June, having wrapped up recording, Godrich posted clips of songs on Dead Air Space.[12][13]

Not including "Last Flowers", which Yorke recorded in the Eraser sessions,[5] the In Rainbows sessions produced 16 songs.[14] After the 56-minute, 14-track Hail to the Thief, Radiohead wanted their seventh album to be concise;[14] they settled on ten songs, saving a further six tracks (not counting short instrumentals) for the limited edition "discbox" release. The album was mastered by Bob Ludwig in July 2007 at Gateway Mastering, New York City.[15]

Music and lyrics

"Nude", originally written in 1997, represents Radiohead's merging of their minimalist, electronic and dub-influenced musical style with a quiet ballad.

"House of Cards"
In "House of Cards", Radiohead turns toward more traditional love ballads, while still retaining their electronic edge.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

In Rainbows features many tracks debuted on Radiohead's 2006 tour, including "15 Step", "Bodysnatchers", "All I Need", "Videotape", "Arpeggi" (retitled "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi") and "Open Pick" (retitled "Jigsaw Falling Into Place"). Radiohead first performed "Nude" during the OK Computer world tour in a different arrangement. The band performed a song with the working title of "Reckoner" in 2001; working on the song in the In Rainbows sessions, they abandoned the original material and created a new song with the same name.[16] Yorke released the song originally known as "Reckoner" as a solo single, "Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses", in 2009.[17]

On the opening track "15 Step", the band enlisted the help of a group of children from the Matrix Music School & Arts Centre in Oxford.[18] Colin Greenwood and Godrich originally set out to record handclaps for the song, but when the clapping proved "not quite good enough", they decided to record the children cheering instead.[4] "Bodysnatchers", a song Yorke described as sounding like Wolfmother and "Neu! meets dodgy hippy rock",[5] was recorded when he was in a period of "hyperactive mania".[4] On "All I Need", Jonny Greenwood wanted to recapture the white noise generated by a band playing loudly in a room, a sound which never occurs in the studio. His solution was to have a string section play every note of the scale, blanketing the frequencies.[19] Yorke described the process of composing "Videotape" as "absolute agony", stating that the song "went through every possible parameter". One day, Yorke left the studio, returning to find that Godrich and Jonny Greenwood had stripped the song down to the version found on the album, a minimal piano ballad.[20]

Yorke has said that the album's lyrics are based on "that anonymous fear thing, sitting in traffic, thinking, 'I'm sure I'm supposed to be doing something else' ... it's similar to OK Computer in a way. It's much more terrifying."[21] At the same time, Yorke felt "there's very little anger in In Rainbows. It's in no way political, or, at least, doesn't feel that way to me. It very much explores the ideas of transience. It starts in one place and ends somewhere completely different."[22] In another interview, Yorke said the album was "about the fucking panic of realising you're going to die! And that any time soon [I could] possibly [have] a heart attack when I next go for a run."[23]

Ed O'Brien described the lyrics, saying "They were universal. There wasn't a political agenda. It's being human."[24] The song "Bodysnatchers" is inspired by Victorian ghost stories, the 1972 novel The Stepford Wives and Yorke's feeling of "your physical consciousness trapped without being able to connect fully with anything else."[19] "Jigsaw Falling into Place" is about a set of observations and different experiences, partly of the chaos witnessed by Yorke when he used to go out on the weekend in Oxford. Yorke said "The lyrics are quite caustic—the idea of 'before you're comatose' or whatever, drinking yourself into oblivion and getting fucked-up to forget ... [there] is partly this elation. But there's a much darker side."[4]


The In Rainbows artwork was designed by Stanley Donwood, who has worked with Yorke in designing Radiohead's album art since 1994.[25] Donwood worked in the studio as Radiohead were working on the album, which allowed the mood of the music to be conveyed in the album artwork,[22] and regularly put up images in the studio and on the studio computer for the band to interact with and comment on. He also posted images daily on the band's website, though none of the images were used in the final album artwork.[26] Donwood experimented with a photographic etching technique, putting prints into acid baths with various results,[27] and throwing wax at paper, creating images influenced by NASA's space photographs.[22] Donwood originally planned to explore suburban life, but realised it did not fit the album's sound, saying "it's a sensual record and I wanted to do something more organic." Describing the album cover, Donwood said: "It's very colourful—I've finally embraced colour! It's a rainbow but it is very toxic, it's more like the sort of one you'd see in a puddle." The band decided not to release the cover for the digital release of the album, preferring to hold it back for the physical release.[28] The "discbox" release of the album includes a booklet containing additional artwork by Donwood.[27]


As Radiohead's six-album contract with EMI ended after the 2003 release of Hail to the Thief, Radiohead recorded In Rainbows without a record contract. In 2005, Yorke told Time: "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'Fuck you' to this decaying business model."[29] In 2006, the New York Times described Radiohead as "by far the world's most popular unsigned band".[30]

In August 2007, as Radiohead were finishing In Rainbows, EMI was acquired by the private equity firm Terra Firma in a $6.4 billion (£4.7 billion) public-to-private buyout transaction.[31][32] Radiohead were still negotiating with EMI, but were critical of the new Terra Firma management and no agreement was reached.[23] O'Brien said: "It was really sad to leave all the people [we'd worked with] ... But Terra Firma don't understand the music industry."[23]

On 1 October 2007, Jonny Greenwood announced Radiohead's seventh album on Radiohead's blog, Dead Air Space, writing: "Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days . . . We've called it In Rainbows."[33] The post contained a link to, where users could pre-order an MP3 version of the album for any amount they wanted, including £0—a landmark use of the pay-what-you-want model for music sales.[33] Colin Greenwood explained the internet release as a way of avoiding the "regulated playlists" and "straitened formats" of radio and TV, ensuring listeners around the world would experience the music at the same time, and preventing leaks in advance of a physical release.[34] In a Wired interview with David Byrne, Yorke said:

We were trying to avoid that whole game of who gets in first with the reviews. These days there's so much paper to fill, or digital paper to fill, that whoever writes the first few things gets cut and pasted. Whoever gets their opinion in first has all that power. Especially for a band like ours, it's totally the luck of the draw whether that person is into us or not. It just seems wildly unfair, I think.[20]


The pay-what-you-want release, the first for a major act, made headlines worldwide and sparked debate about the implications for the music industry.[19] According to Mojo, the release was "hailed as a revolution in the way major bands sell their music", and the media's reaction was "almost overwhelmingly positive".[9] Time called it "easily the most important release in the recent history of the music business"[29] and Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that "for the beleaguered recording business Radiohead has put in motion the most audacious experiment in years."[19] The NME wrote that "the music world seemed to judder several rimes off its axis", and praised the fact that everyone, from fans to critics, had access to the album at the same time on release day: "the kind of moment of togetherness you don’t get very often."[35] Singer Bono of U2 praised Radiohead as "courageous and imaginative in trying to figure out some new relationship with their audience".[36]

The release also drew criticism. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who independently released his sixth album Ghosts I-IV under a Creative Commons licence the following year, thought it did not go far enough, calling it "very much a bait and switch, to get you to pay for a MySpace quality stream as a way to promote a very traditional record sale." Singer Lily Allen called it "arrogant", saying: "[Radiohead have] millions of pounds. It sends a weird message to younger bands who haven't done as well. You don't choose how to pay for eggs. Why should it be different for music?"[37] In the Guardian, journalist Will Hodgkinson wrote: "Spare a thought for the thousands upon thousands of bands and singers who, nowhere near Radiohead's levels of fame and fortune, now have pretty much no chance of ever making a living from their music."[38] Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth told the Guardian the release "seemed really community-oriented, but it wasn't catered towards their musician brothers and sisters, who don’t sell as many records as them. It makes everyone else look bad for not offering their music for whatever."[39] Radiohead's managers defended the release as "a solution for Radiohead, not the industry", and doubted "it would work the same way [for Radiohead] ever again."[40] Radiohead did not repeat the pay-what-you-want release for subsequent releases.[41]

Formats and distribution

For the In Rainbows download release, Radiohead employed the network provider PacketExchange to bypass public internet servers, using a less-trafficked private network.[42] The download was packaged as a ZIP file containing the album's ten tracks encoded in 160 kbit/s DRM-free MP3 format.[43] The staggered online release began at about 5:30am GMT on 10 October 2007. On 10 December, the download was removed.[44]

Fans could also order a limited "discbox" edition from, containing the album on CD and two 12" heavyweight 45 rpm vinyl records with artwork and lyric booklets, plus an enhanced CD with eight additional tracks, digital photos and artwork, packaged in a hardcover book and slipcase. The "discbox" edition was shipped on 3 December 2007.[45] In June 2009, Radiohead made the second In Rainbows disc available for download on their website for £6.[46]

Radiohead ruled out an internet-only distribution for fear that some fans would not have internet access.[7] In Rainbows was released on CD and vinyl in Japan by BMG on 26 December 2007,[47] in Australia on 29 December 2007 by Remote Control Records,[48] and in the United States and Canada on 1 January 2008 by ATO imprint TBD Records and MapleMusic/Fontana respectively.[49][50] Elsewhere, the album was released on 31 December 2007 by independent record label XL Recordings.[51] The CD release came in a cardboard package containing the CD, lyric booklet, and several stickers that could be placed on the blank jewel case to create cover art.[52] In Rainbows was the first Radiohead album available for download in several digital music stores, such as the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3.[53] On 10 June 2016, it was added to the free streaming service Spotify.[54]

Radiohead retained ownership of the recordings and compositions for In Rainbows. The download and "discbox" versions of the album were self-released; for the physical release, Radiohead licensed the music to record labels.[55] Licensing agreements for all releases were managed by the band's publisher, Warner Chappell Music Publishing.[55]


On New Year's Eve 2007, Current TV streamed a webcast performance filmed at Radiohead's Oxford studios featuring In Rainbows songs, poetry and additional footage.[56] In March 2008, Radiohead partnered with animation site Aniboom to create a contest whereby entrants submitted storyboards for an animated music video for an In Rainbows song. The winner, who would receive $10,000 to create a full-length music video, was chosen by AniBOOM, Radiohead, TBD Records, and Adult Swim; Adult Swim aired the winning video.[57] The band awarded $10,000 each to four different winners, plus $1,000 to each of ten semifinalists to create a one-minute clip.[58] Radiohead toured North America, Europe, South America and Japan in support of In Rainbows from May 2008 until March 2009.[59][60]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The A.V. ClubA−[63]
Entertainment WeeklyA[64]
The Guardian[65]
Pitchfork Media9.3/10[67]
Rolling Stone[69]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[70]

In Rainbows received widespread critical acclaim, earning a rating of 88 out of 100 on Metacritic, which indicates "universal acclaim".[61] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone felt that the album contained "no wasted moments, no weak tracks: just primo Radiohead."[69] A review by NME described the album as "Radiohead reconnecting with their human sides, realising you [can] embrace pop melodies and proper instruments while still sounding like paranoid androids ... this [is] otherworldly music, alright."[66] Will Hermes, writing in Entertainment Weekly, called the album "the gentlest, prettiest Radiohead set yet" and stated that it "uses the full musical and emotional spectra to conjure breathtaking beauty".[64] Andy Kellman of AllMusic, in a positive review, wrote that the album "will hopefully be remembered as Radiohead's most stimulating synthesis of accessible songs and abstract sounds, rather than their first pick-your-price download."[62] Robert Christgau, writing for MSN Music, gave it a two-star "honourable mention" and noted that the album, having been developed in concert, was "more jammy, less songy and less Yorkey, which is good."[72]

Various reviewers, such as The Guardian's Alexis Petridis, attributed the album's quality to Radiohead's performance in the studio and that the band sounded like they were enjoying themselves.[65] Others, such as Billboard's Jonathan Cohen, commended the album for not being overshadowed by its marketing hype.[73]

Blender's review, although mostly positive, felt the album seemed "to be primarily composed of love songs ... that are starving for human connection but generate all the interpersonal warmth of a GPS system".[74] The Wire was also critical, finding "a sense here of a group magisterially marking time, shying away ... from any grand, rhetorical, countercultural purpose."[75]

Commercial performance

In early October 2007, a Radiohead spokesperson reported that most downloaders paid "a normal retail price" for the download version, and that most fans had pre-ordered the "discbox" edition.[76] Citing a source close to the band, reported that the album had sold 1.2 million digital copies before its retail release;[77] however, this was dismissed by Radiohead manager Bryce Edge as "exaggerated".[78] In December 2007, Yorke stated that Radiohead had made more money from digital sales of In Rainbows than the digital sales of all previous Radiohead albums combined.[20]

In October 2008, one year after the album's release, Warner Chappell reported that although most people paid nothing for the download, pre-release sales for In Rainbows were more profitable than the total sales of Hail to the Thief, and that the "discbox" had sold 100,000 copies.[79] In 2009, Wired reported that Radiohead had made an "instantaneous" £3 million from the album.[39] In 2016, Pitchfork wrote this "proved Radiohead could release a record on the most secretive terms, basically for free, and still be wildly successful, even as industry profits continued to plummet. They were able to take that risk partly due to the fan sites and their communities, which offered a solid bedrock of support."[80]

Because is not a chart-registered retailer, In Rainbows download and "discbox" sales were not eligible for inclusion in the UK Albums Chart.[81] On the week of its retail release, In Rainbows peaked at number one on the UK Album Chart,[82] with first week sales of 44,602 copies.[83] After some record stores broke street date agreements, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number 156, but in the first week of its official release reached number one and sold 122,000 copies in the United States,[84] making it the 10th independently distributed album to reach number 1 on the Billboard 200.[85] In October 2008, Warner Chappell Music Publishing reported that In Rainbows had sold three million copies (1.75 million of which were physical format sales[86]) since its physical release in January.[87] The vinyl edition of In Rainbows was the best-selling vinyl album of 2008.[88][89]

In the US, "Nude" reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was also Radiohead's first single to appear on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. "Bodysnatchers" reached number eight on the US Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.[90] "Jigsaw Falling into Place" peaked at number 69 in airplay on alternative rock-oriented stations.[91] "All I Need" was serviced to US adult album alternative radio by TBD Records on 5 January 2009.[92]

Awards and "best-of" lists

In Rainbows was ranked one of the best albums of 2007 by many music publications.[93] It was ranked number one by Billboard, Mojo and PopMatters; NME and The A.V. Club ranked it third, Pitchfork Media and Q fourth, and Rolling Stone and Spin sixth.[93] It was also ranked one of the best albums of the decade by several publications: the NME ranked it 10th,[94] Paste ranked it 45th,[95] Rolling Stone ranked it 30th,[96] and the Guardian ranked it 22nd.[97] Newsweek ranked the album fifth on its list of the ten best albums of the decade.[98] In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 336 on their updated version of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[99] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[100]

In Rainbows was nominated for the short list of the 2008 Mercury Music Prize[101] and was nominated for several awards at the 51st Grammy Awards: Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical (for Nigel Godrich). Three Grammy nominations also "House of Cards" Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song and Best Short Form Music Video and its video.[102] In Rainbows won awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Special Limited Edition Package.[103]

Track listing

All tracks written by Radiohead (Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke). 

No. Title Length
1. "15 Step"   3:58
2. "Bodysnatchers"   4:02
3. "Nude"   4:15
4. "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"   5:18
5. "All I Need"   3:49
6. "Faust Arp"   2:10
7. "Reckoner"   4:50
8. "House of Cards"   5:28
9. "Jigsaw Falling into Place"   4:09
10. "Videotape"   4:40
Total length:

Bonus disc

In Rainbows Disk 2
EP by Radiohead
Released 3 December 2007
Length 26:49
  • Self-released

The original discbox release of the album included a second disc, which contains eight additional tracks. On 9 June 2009, Radiohead made the tracks from this disc available for download at their "w.a.s.t.e." online store,[104] and a pressing released contains both CDs without the original box. In October 2016, this disc was made available to stream on music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. [105]

All tracks written by Radiohead (Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke). 

No. Title Length
1. "MK 1"   1:03
2. "Down Is the New Up"   4:59
3. "Go Slowly"   3:48
4. "MK 2"   0:53
5. "Last Flowers"   4:26
6. "Up on the Ladder"   4:17
7. "Bangers + Mash"   3:19
8. "4 Minute Warning"   4:04
Total length:




Chart Peak
Australian ARIA Albums Chart 2
Austrian Albums Chart 12
Belgian Album Charts (Flanders) 2
Belgian Album Charts (Wallonia)[107] 7
Canadian Albums Chart 1
Danish Album Charts 7
Dutch Album Charts 7
Finnish Album Chart 2
French Albums Chart 1
Germany Albums Chart 8
Irish Albums Chart 1
Italian Albums Chart 7
Japan Oricon Albums Chart 11
Mexican Albums Chart 50
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart 2
Norwegian Albums Chart 6
Polish Albums Chart 7
Spanish Albums Chart 19
Swedish Album Chart 6
Swiss Albums Chart 2
UK Albums Chart 1
US Billboard 200 1


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