Hail to the Thief
|Hail to the Thief|
|Studio album by Radiohead|
|Released||9 June 2003|
|Recorded||September 2002 – February 2003 at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood and Canned Applause in Oxfordshire|
|Genre||Alternative rock, experimental rock|
|Producer||Nigel Godrich, Radiohead|
|Singles from Hail to the Thief|
Hail to the Thief[nb 1] is the sixth studio album by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, produced by Nigel Godrich and released on 9 June 2003. It was the last album released under Radiohead's six-album record contract with Parlophone. Following the electronic and jazz styles of Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), Hail to the Thief was a partial return to the guitar rock of their earlier albums, but retained electronic elements such as drum machines, synthesisers and digital manipulation. To avoid the protracted recording sessions of previous albums, the band recorded it quickly, employing a live, "spontaneous" approach.
Many of the album's lyrics were written in response to the War on Terror and the early-2000s resurgence of right-wing politics in the West. Songwriter and vocalist Thom Yorke said the album expresses "frustration and powerlessness and anger, and the huge gap between the people that put themselves in control and the people that allegedly voted for them." Although it was interpreted by some as a protest album, Yorke downplayed any political intent.
Despite a high-profile internet leak ten weeks before its release, Hail to the Thief debuted at number one in the United Kingdom and number three in the United States. It produced three charting singles: "There There", "Go to Sleep" and "2 + 2 = 5". As of 2008, the album had sold over a million copies in the US and approximately two and a half million copies worldwide. It was praised by critics and became the fifth consecutive Radiohead album to be nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Lyrics and themes
- 4 Artwork
- 5 Music
- 5.1 "2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm)"
- 5.2 "Sit Down. Stand Up (Snakes and Ladders)"
- 5.3 "Sail to the Moon (Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky)"
- 5.4 "Backdrifts (Honeymoon is Over)"
- 5.5 "Go to Sleep (Little Man being Erased)"
- 5.6 "Where I End and You Begin (The Sky is Falling In)"
- 5.7 "We Suck Young Blood (Your Time is Up)"
- 5.8 "The Gloaming (Softly Open our Mouths in the Cold)"
- 5.9 "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)"
- 5.10 "I Will (No Man's Land)"
- 5.11 "A Punchup at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No)"
- 5.12 "Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner)"
- 5.13 "Scatterbrain (As Dead as Leaves)"
- 5.14 "A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag Doll.)"
- 6 Promotion and release
- 7 Critical reception
- 8 Reissues
- 9 Track listing
- 10 Personnel
- 11 Charts and certifications
- 12 References
- 13 External links
With their previous albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), Radiohead had replaced their earlier guitar-led rock sound with a more electronic style. On tour in 2000 and 2001, the band learned how to perform the electronic music live, synthesising computer-generated sounds with live instrumentation. Songwriter Thom Yorke said: "Even with electronics, there is an element of spontaneous performance in using them. It was the tension between what's human and what's coming from the machines. That was stuff we were getting into ... When we talked about it, after the tour, we realised that we didn't want to make any big creative leap or statement. This is a good space we're in. We should carry on and enjoy it."
In early 2002, after the Amnesiac tour had finished, Yorke sent his bandmates CDs containing demos of songs he wanted to attempt to record for Radiohead's sixth album. The three CDs, titled The Gloaming, Episcoval and Hold Your Prize, comprised electronic music and piano and guitar sketches recorded onto a Dictaphone. Guitarist Ed O'Brien said: "He hadn't named CDs for five years. It reminded me of tapes for [1997 Radiohead album] OK Computer. It was a nostalgic thing. This is the way it used to be. It signified to me that he was ready to engage again." Radiohead had previously tried to record some of the songs, such as "I Will" and "A Wolf at the Door", in the joint sessions for Kid A and Amnesiac, but had not been satisfied with the results.
The band spent May and June arranging and rehearsing the songs before performing many of them on their tour of Spain and Portugal that summer. Multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood said: "The songs were subject to instant focus groups. The audience became a democratic polling process. If they stayed for the end, we knew we should record it."
In September 2002, Radiohead moved to the Ocean Way Recording studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles with producer Nigel Godrich and artist Stanley Donwood, both of whom have worked with the band since their second album, The Bends (1995). The location was suggested by Godrich, who had previously used the studio to produce records by Travis and Beck and thought it would be a "good change of scenery" for Radiohead. Yorke said: "We were like, 'Do we want to fly halfway around the world to do this?' But it was terrific, because we worked really hard. We did a track a day. It was sort of like holiday camp."
Kid A and Amnesiac were created through a years-long process of recording and editing that drummer Phil Selway described as "manufacturing music in the studio". For their next album, Radiohead sought to capture a more immediate, "live" sound. Yorke told MTV: "The last two studio records were a real headache. We had spent so much time looking at computers and grids, we were like, that's enough, we can't do that any more. This time, we used computers, but they had to actually be in the room with all the gear. So everything was about performance, like staging a play." Most electronic elements were not overdubbed, but recorded at the same time as other instruments as "part of the band, rather than one person with a computer and four people watching, as tended to happen with previous records." The band used the music programming language Max/MSP extensively to sample and manipulate their music in real time as they played. Greenwood continued to employ modular synthesisers and the ondes Martenot, an early theremin-like electronic instrument he first used on Kid A and Amnesiac; Jeanne Loriod, a celebrated player of the instrument who died before the album's release, is thanked in the liner notes.
The album contains significantly fewer overdubs than its predecessors. Yorke said: "We were very much into getting the sound of people in a room on this record, and the sounds of things off-mic and all that kind of stuff." Opening track "2 + 2 = 5" was initially recorded as a studio test, and was finished in two hours; the sound of Greenwood plugging in his guitar, with Yorke replying "that's a nice way to start, Jonny," is audible before the song begins. After using effects pedals heavily on previous albums, Greenwood mostly used clean guitar sounds to "see if I could come up with interesting things without [effects]."
The band tried to work quickly and spontaneously, avoiding procrastination and over-analysis. Inspired by the Beatles' ability to write songs shorter than they seemed, they tried to keep the songs succinct, "instead of taking the listener on a journey." Yorke was forced to write lyrics differently, as he did not have time to rewrite them in the studio; for some songs, he returned to the Dadaist method of drawing words and phrases from a hat he had employed for Kid A and Amnesiac. Greenwood said: "We didn't really have time to be stressed about what we did. We got to the end of the second week before we even heard what we did on the first two days, and didn't even remember recording it or who was playing things. Which is a magical way of doing things." The approach protected against the tension of previous sessions; O'Brien told Rolling Stone that Hail to the Thief was the first Radiohead album "where, at the end of making it, we haven't wanted to kill each other."
The bulk of the album was recorded in two weeks, with additional recording and mixing at Radiohead's studio in Oxfordshire, England in late 2002 and early 2003. In contrast to the relaxed Los Angeles sessions, which Godrich described as "very fruitful", mixing and sequencing the album created conflicts as it had for previous albums. In an interview with writer Will Self, Yorke said: "We had massive arguments about how it was put together and mixed. Making it was a piece of piss, for the first time it was really good fun to make a record ... but we finished it and nobody could let go of it. 'Cause there was a long sustained period during which we lived with it but it wasn't completely finished, so you get attached to versions and we had big rows about it." Godrich estimated that rough mixes from the Los Angeles sessions were used for about a third of the album.
Lyrics and themes
Hail to the Thief's lyrics were influenced by Yorke's unease about what he called the "rise of the right" and the "general sense of ignorance and intolerance and panic and stupidity" around the turn of the millennium. He told David Fricke of Rolling Stone: "When I started writing these new songs, I was listening to a lot of political programs on BBC Radio 4. I found myself – during that mad caffeine rush in the morning, as I was in the kitchen giving my son his breakfast – writing down little nonsense phrases, those Orwellian euphemisms that [the British and American governments] are so fond of. They became the background of the record. The emotional context of those words had been taken away. What I was doing was stealing it back." He denied any intent to make a "political statement" with the songs, and told the Toronto Star: "I desperately tried not to write anything political, anything expressing the deep, profound terror I'm living with day to day. But it's just fucking there, and eventually you have to give it up and let it happen."
At the time the father of an infant son, Yorke adopted a strategy of "distilling" the political themes into "childlike simplicity". He took phrases from fairy tales and folklore, such as Chicken Licken, and children's literature and television he shared with his son, including the 1970s TV series Bagpuss, whose creator Oliver Postgate is thanked in the liner notes. Parenthood made Yorke concerned about the condition of the world and how it could affect future generations. Jonny Greenwood felt Yorke's lyrics expressed "confusion and escape, like 'I'm going to stay at home and look after the people I care about, buy a month's supply of food.'" Other phrases were taken from Dante's Inferno, the subject of Yorke's partner's PhD thesis; several songs, such as "2 + 2 = 5", "Sit Down Stand Up", and "Sail to the Moon", reference Christian versions of good and evil and heaven and hell, a first for Radiohead's music. The philosopher Sean Burt observed a science fiction and horror motif, such as the monsters of "A Wolf at the Door" and "We Suck Young Blood", the reference to George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four in "2 + 2 = 5", and the allusion to the giant of Gulliver's Travels in "Go to Sleep".
Yorke has described Hail to the Thief variously as expressing "a general fear of the future, that it's being jeopardised, that it's difficult to do very much about, because things have been set in motion that seem unstoppable"; "frustration and powerlessness and anger, and the huge gap between the people that put themselves in control and the people that allegedly voted for them"; and "the conflict between being incredibly angry and being so tired you just want to give up."
Title and subtitles
Radiohead struggled to find a title for the album. The band considered naming it The Gloaming (meaning "twilight" or "dusk"), but this was rejected for being too "poetic" and "doomy", and so became the album's subtitle. Other titles considered included Little Man Being Erased, The Bony King of Nowhere and Snakes and Ladders, which became the subtitles for the songs "Go To Sleep", "There There" and "Sit Down. Stand Up" respectively. The concept of giving the album and each of its songs a subtitle came from Victorian playbills showcasing moralistic songs played in music halls.
The phrase "hail to the thief" was used by anti-George W. Bush protesters during the controversy surrounding the 2000 US presidential election as a play on "Hail to the Chief", the American Presidential Anthem. Yorke described hearing the phrase for the first time as a "formative moment" for the album, saying it "threw a switch in my head". It was chosen as the album title partly to "state the bleeding obvious ... that the most powerful country on earth is run by somebody who stole an election." At the same time, Yorke felt that "if the motivation for naming our album had been based solely on the US election, I'd find that to be pretty shallow"; the title is therefore also a response to "the rise of doublethink and general intolerance and madness, and feeling very much like individuals were totally out of control of the situation that somehow it was a manifestation of something not really human." He told Spin: "I was just overcome with all this fear and darkness. And that fear is the 'thief'."
Yorke worried the title might be misconstrued as referring solely to the US election controversy, but his bandmates felt it "conjured up all the nonsense and absurdity and jubilation of the times." Jonny Greenwood said: "All our album titles have been an attempt to sum up the mood of the time within which the songs were written, like OK Computer and Kid A, and this was another attempt to do the same. It's about whether you choose to, you know, confront and complain and deal with what's upsetting you around you, or just kind of go home with your family and hide and wait for it to change and wait for everything to be all right."
Hail to the Thief's artwork was created by Stanley Donwood, who has produced the artwork for every Radiohead album since The Bends. The cover art, titled "Pacific Coast", is a road map of Hollywood with words and phrases taken from Los Angeles's roadside advertising, such as "God", "TV" and "oil", in place of buildings. Donwood said: "Advertising is designed to be seductive and attractive and, in a lot of ways, it's very beautiful. But there's something unsettling about being continually sold something. I liked taking the elements of roadside advertising out of context because it removes the imperative and just goes to the essence of it – the pure heart of advertising." Other words in the artwork were provided by Yorke, who made lists of words "that rang bells in my head" from the political discussion surrounding the September 11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror; many of the words also appear in the album's lyrics.
Essayist Amy Britton interpreted the artwork as an allusion to the Bush administration's "road map for peace" plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Joseph Tate, likening the art to the paintings of French artist Jean Dubuffet, found it depicted a "homogenized and heavily regimented" portrayal of "capitalism's glaring visual presence: an oppressive sameness of style and color that mirrors globalization's reduction of difference." Comparing it to the more subdued palettes of his prior Radiohead artworks, Donwood described the cover's bright, "pleasing" colours as "ominous because all these colours that I've used are derived from the petrol-chemical industry ... None of it is natural. It essentially comes from black sludge. We've created this incredibly vibrant society, but we're going to have to deal with the consequences sooner or later."
Hail to the Thief features less digital manipulation and more conventional rock instrumentation than Radiohead's previous two albums, making prominent use of live drums, guitar and piano. Yorke's voice, which was heavily manipulated on Kid A and Amnesiac, returned to the front of the music undisguised. Several tracks, such as "2 + 2 = 5", "Sit Down Stand Up" and "There There", utilise the "Pixies-like" quiet-to-loud building of tension Radiohead had employed on previous albums.
Yorke described Hail to the Thief as "very acoustic"; however, asked if it was a "guitar record", he said: "Not really, no. That's the thing that would be a mistake to think; it's just sort of capturing that energy." The album retains the use of electronic elements such as synthesisers, drum machines and sampling, and Jonny Greenwood and Yorke are both credited with playing "laptop" on the album; some tracks, such as "Backdrifts", "The Gloaming" and "Myxomatosis", are predominantly electronic in composition. Spin reviewer Will Hermes found that Hail to the Thief "seesaws between the chill of sequencers and the warmth of fingers on strings and keys." O'Brien felt the album captured a new "swaggering" sound, saying "there's space and sunshine and energy in the songs." Despite its dark themes, Radiohead saw Hail to the Thief as a "sparkly, shiny pop record. Clear and pretty." Nearly an hour long, it is Radiohead's longest album.
"2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm)"
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
Hail to the Thief's opening track is a rock song that builds to a loud climax. Its title references the slogan "two plus two equals five" from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The song's subtitle was taken from Dante's Inferno; Yorke explained that, according to Dante, the "lukewarm" are "the people who don't give a fuck ... The lukewarm are on the edge of the Inferno, cruising around near the gates but they can't actually get out. They're like, 'What are we doing here? We didn't do anything at all.' And in Dante's eyes it's, 'That's exactly why you're here. You did fuck all. You just let it happen.'"
"Sit Down. Stand Up (Snakes and Ladders)"
The second track was influenced by the jazz musician Charles Mingus. The militaristic imagery of its lyrics were written in response to the Rwandan Genocide. Tate noted that the song's contradictory title lyric "almost parodies the imperatives thrown at music audiences to 'get up' and dance".
"Sail to the Moon (Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky)"
The third track is a lullaby-like piano ballad with shifting time signatures, was written "in five minutes" for Yorke's infant son Noah. Alluding to the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, the song contains the lyrics "maybe you'll be president, but know right from wrong / or in the flood you'll build an ark / and sail us to the moon." Tate observed that the song "thus, in biographical context, becomes addressed to a next generation in the same way Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four may have been written indirectly for [Orwell's] son ... in the same way, Hail to the Thief may not be imagining present ills so much as warning a next generation." The song's subtitle was taken from a song from the British children's television programme Bagpuss. Jonny Greenwood was initially unimpressed with Yorke's demo of the song, feeling it had "only half an idea", but felt it became "just about the best song on the record" after the band restructured it.
"Backdrifts (Honeymoon is Over)"
The fourth track is an electronic song built from a loop Yorke created on a portable Walkstation synthesiser before the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions. Bassist Colin Greenwood called the track "the point when we managed to work out how to make all the boxes and machines talk to each other." According to Yorke, the lyrical imagery came from the time the band became trapped on a bullet train in a snowdrift in Japan: "The snow was piled high on the branches, and then a bullet train would go past, and the snow would drop off the branch. The whole world was utterly blanketed except for these straggly bits of black and white. And that's where it started. The words have always been based in that image." He described the song as being about "the slide backwards that's happening everywhere you look."
"Go to Sleep (Little Man being Erased)"
The fifth track begins with an acoustic guitar riff Colin Greenwood described as "1960s English sort of folk". Yorke wrote the lyrics as placeholders with the intent of rewriting them later, but kept them as he had not rewritten them by the day of recording. He later realised they were "really amazing" and the lyrics he was most proud of on the album. The line "May pretty horses / come to you / as you sleep" may derive from "All the Pretty Horses", a common lullaby.
"Where I End and You Begin (The Sky is Falling In)"
The sixth track is a bassline-driven rock song with "walls" of ondes Martenot. It was written in 1998 when Jonny Greenwood and Yorke holidayed together in Israel. Selway and Colin Greenwood's rhythm section was influenced by 1980s band New Order.
"We Suck Young Blood (Your Time is Up)"
Yorke described the seventh track as a "slave ship tune" with a "freeform jazz nightmare" break, and is "not to be taken seriously." With ill-timed, "zombie-like" handclaps, the song satirises Hollywood culture and its "constant desire to stay young and fleece people, suck their energy."
"The Gloaming (Softly Open our Mouths in the Cold)"
The eighth track is an electronic song with "mechanical rhythms" Jonny Greenwood built from physical tape loops. Greenwood described it as "very old school electronica: no computers, just analogue synths, tape machines, and sellotape." Yorke thought it was "the most amazing thing that Jonny had ever written" and listened to it while driving country roads at dusk to write the melody and lyrics, which he described as "very much about imminent sense of darkness." He felt the song was "the most explicit protest song on the record ... I feel really strongly that it's about the rise of fascism, and the rise of intolerance and bigotry and fear, and all the things that keep a population down." Yorke later sampled elements of the track for his solo album The Eraser (2006).
"There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)"
The ninth track and lead single is a guitar-led rock song with layered percussion building to a loud climax. It was influenced by krautrock band Can, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Pixies. Radiohead struggled to record a version of the song that satisfied them, and feared it may be "lost"; after re-recording it in their Oxfordshire studio, Yorke was so moved by the final mix he wept, saying: "I was in tears for ages. I just thought it was the best thing we'd ever done." According to Yorke, the song's chorus lyric, "just 'cause you feel it doesn't mean it's there", is "supposed to be comforting – 'It's alright, you're just imagining it'." Like "Sail to the Moon", the song's subtitle was taken from British children's television programme Bagpuss. Yorke asked Bagpuss creator Oliver Postgate to create the song's music video, but Postgate, who was retired, declined. Yorke's original demo for the song was released as a B-side to the "2 + 2 = 5" single.
"I Will (No Man's Land)"
Radiohead attempted to record a version of tenth track "I Will" in the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions as an electronic song, but abandoned it as "dodgy Kraftwerk"; components of this recording were reversed to create "Like Spinning Plates" on Amnesiac. For Hail to the Thief, the band sought to "get to the core of what's good about the song" and "not get sidetracked by production details or new sounds or whatever," settling on a stripped-back arrangement with layered vocal harmonies. Yorke described it as "the angriest song I've ever written", with lyrics inspired by news footage of a bomb shelter containing children and families being destroyed in the first Gulf War. An alternative full-band arrangement of the song was released on the "2 + 2 = 5" single as "I Will (Los Angeles Version)".
"A Punchup at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No)"
The eleventh track, with its lyrics "you had to piss on our parade / you had to shred our big day", was written in response to a negative review of Radiohead's "homecoming" Oxford concert in 2001. Yorke described the concert as "one of the biggest days in my life ... But this person managed to totally and utterly ruin that day for me forever." At the same time, the song expresses the helplessness Yorke felt in the face of chaotic world events: "Like a punchup at a wedding, nobody knows what's going on, it's just a riot." Jonny Greenwood described the track as "us doing our kind of slow grind kind of funk thing."
"Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner)"
For the twelfth track, the band sought to recreate the "frightening", "slightly out of tune" keyboard sounds of 1970s and 80s New Wave bands such as Tubeway Army. The lyrics came from a short story by Yorke, whose narrator Q magazine described as being "so haunted by the discrepancy between personal experience and media-reported reality he succumbs to paranoid illness." Yorke said the song was about "wishing that all the people who tell you that you're crazy were actually right. That would make life so much easier." The chorus lyrics were re-used from the Amnesiac B-side "Cuttooth".
"Scatterbrain (As Dead as Leaves)"
Jonny Greenwood described the thirteenth track as "very simple and sort of quite pretty, but there's something about the music for me, the chords for me, where it never quite resolves." Yorke described the song's lyrics as "trying to deny what's going on, trying to get away from it, battling with the reality of the situation and really trying to strip it away from its context, trying to deal with stuff, but really not being able to deal with what's happening externally."
"A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag Doll.)"
The NME described the album's fourteenth and final track as "a pretty song, with a sinister monologue over the top of it"; Greenwood felt it "read like a Grimms' fairy tale." Yorke's vocals were inspired by ragga freestyling. The lyrics came from Yorke's witnessing "a bunch of rowdy, posh city boys, obviously rich as hell, who were going to some fucking stag party"; the line "get the eggs / get the flan in the face" alludes to the tactic of pieing used by some anti-globalization groups to protest against powerful political and economic figures. Yorke described the song's placement at the end of the album as "sort of like waking you up at the end ... Rather than waking you up and it's like 'uhh, it's all been a lovely dream'... no, it's all been a nightmare and you need to go and get a glass of water now."
Promotion and release
In April 2003, posters appeared in Los Angeles and London promoting Hail to the Thief in the style of a talent search. It featured slogans taken from the lyrics of "We Suck Young Blood": "Hungry? Sick? Begging for a break? Sweet? Fresh? Would you do anything? We suck young blood. We want sweet meats." The posters included a phone number spelling the phoneword "to-thief", which connected the caller to an automated voice welcoming them to the "Hail to the Thief customer care hotline".
On 20 May 2003, the music video for lead single "There There" debuted on the Times Square Jumbotron in New York, and received hourly play on MTV2. In June, the official Radiohead site was relaunched, featuring digital animations on the themes of mass-media culture and 24-hour cities. That month, Radiohead launched radiohead.tv, where short films, music videos and live webcasts from the studio were broadcast at scheduled times. Visitors late for broadcasts were shown a test card with "1970s-style" intermission music. Yorke said Radiohead had planned to broadcast on television or even their own television channel, but this was canceled due to "something about money, cutbacks, too weird, might scare the children, staff layoffs, shareholders." The material was released on the 2004 DVD The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time.
Hail to the Thief was released on 9 June 2003. The CD release was printed with copy protection in some regions; the Belgian consumer group Test-Achats received complaints that the album could not be played on some CD players. A collection of Hail to the Thief B-sides, remixes and live performances, COM LAG (2plus2isfive), was released in April 2004.
In early April 2003, ten weeks before release, an unmixed version of Hail to the Thief containing unfinished tracks was leaked online by an unknown person. Jonny Greenwood wrote on Radiohead's official forum: "We're kind of pissed off about it, to be honest ... Work we've not finished, being released in this sloppy way, ten weeks before the real version is even available ... It's not [downloaders] I'm pissed off about, it's just the situation I guess. It's stolen work, fer fuck's sake." [sic] Colin Greenwood said the leak was "like being photographed with one sock on when you get out of bed in the morning," but expressed dismay at the cease-and-desist orders sent by Parlophone owner EMI to radio stations and fan sites playing the leaked tracks, saying: "Don't record companies usually pay thousands of dollars to get stations to play their records? Now they're paying money to stations not to play them."
EMI decided against moving the album's release date earlier to combat the leak. The label's vice president of new media, Ted Mico, said: "The leak did allow us to be in the press continually for the last 10 weeks. We're confident people will buy this record." The leak partly influenced Radiohead's decision to self-release their next album, In Rainbows (2007), via a pay-what-you-want model, terming it "their leak date".
Hail to the Thief peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and stayed on the chart for fourteen weeks. In the United States, the album entered at number three in the Billboard 200, selling 300,000 copies in its first week, more than any other Radiohead album. As of January 2008, it had sold over a million copies in the US. The album is certified Platinum in the UK in Canada and in the US, while Gold in Australia and France.
|Drowned in Sound|||
Hail to the Thief received wide acclaim from professional critics; it has a score of 85 out of 100 on review aggregate site Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim". Neil McCormick, writing for the Daily Telegraph, called it "Radiohead firing on all cylinders, a major work by major artists at the height of their powers." AllMusic, awarding the album four stars out of five, found that "Radiohead have entered a second decade of record-making with a surplus of momentum." Chris Ott of Pitchfork Media wrote that "though Hail to the Thief will likely fade into their catalog as a slight placeholder", Radiohead had "largely succeeded in their efforts to shape pop music into as boundless and possible a medium as it should be", awarding the album 9.3 out of 10 and naming it "best new music". Writing for New York, Ethan Brown said that "Hail to the Thief is a great record in spite of its politics, which aren't so much leftist as deliberately murky ...Hail to the Thief isn't a protest album, and that's why it works so well. As with great Radiohead records past, such as Kid A, the music – restlessly, freakishly inventive – pushes politics far into the background."
The NME's James Oldham saw Hail to the Thief as "a good rather than great record" and wrote that "the impact of the best moments is dulled by the inclusion of some indifferent electronic compositions." Alexis Petridis of the Guardian felt that while "you could never describe Hail to the Thief as a bad record", it was "neither startlingly different and fresh nor packed with the sort of anthemic songs that once made them the world's biggest band." In a review of the 2009 reissue, Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari wrote that "Hail to the Thief isn't Radiohead's best album, but it doesn't need to be, either ... there can be life for a band after its landmark statement [Kid A], and that life sounds pretty damn good," awarding it 8.6 out of 10 and naming it "best new reissue". In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked Hail to the Thief the 89th best album of the 2000s, writing "the dazzling overabundance of ideas makes Hail to the Thief a triumph."
Hail to the Thief was the fifth consecutive Radiohead album to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. Producer Nigel Godrich and engineer Darrell Thorp won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Album for their work.
Band opinions in retrospect
Members of Radiohead have admitted regrets about Hail to the Thief, criticising its length and feeling that some elements are unfinished. In a 2006 interview with Spin, Yorke said, "I'd maybe change the playlist. I think we had a meltdown when we put it together. 'There There' is amazing, and '2 + 2 = 5' is good, but as Nigel says, I wish I had another go at it. We wanted to do things quickly, and I think the songs suffered. It was part of the experiment. Every record is part of the experiment." In 2008, O'Brien told Mojo: "We should have pruned it down to 10 songs, then it would have been a really good record. I think we lost people on a couple of tracks and it broke the spell of the record." In the same interview, Colin Greenwood said: "I didn't want three or four songs on there, because I thought some of the ideas we were trying out weren't completely finished ... For me, Hail to the Thief was more of a holding process, really."
In April 2012, O'Brien told La Semana De Frente: "On OK Computer, we were in a very dark place, it was like being in a tunnel, in which we stayed all through OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac... on Hail to the Thief, we thought we were out, but we weren't ... On [subsequent album] In Rainbows, the struggle was to get out of that tunnel." In 2013, Godrich told the NME: "I think there's some great moments on there - but too many songs. I think that's kind of agreed amongst the camp these days but at the time it was just what happened ... As a whole I think it's charming because of the lack of editing. But personally it's probably my least favourite of all the albums ... It didn't really have its own direction. It was almost like a homogeny of previous work. Maybe that's its strength."
In October 2008, Yorke posted an alternative Hail to the Thief track listing on his profile on W.A.S.T.E. Central, the official Radiohead fan club social networking service. The listing changes the track order and omits "A Punchup at a Wedding", "We Suck Young Blood", "I Will" and "Backdrifts".
In 2007, Radiohead left EMI, parent company of Parlophone, after failed contract negotiations. EMI retained the copyright to Radiohead's back catalogue. After a period of being out of print on vinyl, EMI reissued a double-LP of Hail to the Thief on 19 August 2008, along with albums Kid A, Amnesiac and OK Computer as part of the "From the Capitol Vaults" series. On 31 August 2009, Hail to the Thief was reissued on CD in a 2-CD "Collector's Edition" and a 2-CD 1-DVD "Special Collector's Edition". The first CD contains the original studio album; the second CD collects B-sides from Hail to the Thief singles and live performances previously compiled on the COM LAG (2plus2isfive) EP (2004); the DVD contains music videos and a live television performance. Radiohead had no input into the reissue and the music was not remastered.
All songs written and composed by Radiohead.
|1.||"2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm)"||3:19|
|2.||"Sit Down. Stand Up (Snakes & Ladders)"||4:19|
|3.||"Sail to the Moon (Brush the Cobwebs out of the Sky)"||4:18|
|4.||"Backdrifts (Honeymoon is Over)"||5:22|
|5.||"Go to Sleep (Little Man Being Erased)"||3:21|
|6.||"Where I End and You Begin (The Sky Is Falling In)"||4:29|
|7.||"We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up)"||4:56|
|8.||"The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold)"||3:32|
|9.||"There there (The Boney King of Nowhere)"||5:25|
|10.||"I Will (No Man's Land)"||1:59|
|11.||"A Punchup at a Wedding (No no no no no no no no)"||4:57|
|12.||"Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner)"||3:52|
|13.||"Scatterbrain (As Dead as Leaves)"||3:21|
|14.||"A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag Doll)"||3:21|
|Collector's Edition disc 2|
|2.||"Where Bluebirds Fly"||4:31|
|3.||"I Am Citizen Insane"||3:33|
|4.||"Fog (Again)" (Live)||2:18|
|6.||"I Am A Wicked Child"||3:06|
|7.||"Remyxomatosis" (Cristian Vogel RMX)||5:10|
|8.||"There There" (First Demo)||7:45|
|9.||"Skttrbrain" (Four Tet Remix)||4:25|
|10.||"I Will (Los Angeles Version)" ([nb 2])||2:23|
|11.||"Sail to the Moon" (BBC Radio 1's Jo Whiley's Live Lounge – 28 May 2003)||4:11|
|12.||"2 + 2 = 5" (Live at Earl's Court)||3:35|
|13.||"Go To Sleep" (Zane Lowe – 08/12/03)||3:32|
|Collector's Edition DVD|
|2.||"Go To Sleep"|
|3.||"2 + 2 = 5"|
|4.||"Sit Down Stand Up"|
|5.||"2 + 2 = 5" (Live at Belfort Festival)|
|6.||"There, There" (Later With Jools Holland – 27 May 2003)|
|7.||"Go To Sleep" (Later With Jools Holland – 27 May 2003)|
|8.||"2 + 2 = 5" (Later With Jools Holland – 27 May 2003)|
|9.||"Where I End And You Begin" (Later With Jools Holland – 27 May 2003)|
Adapted from the Hail to the Thief liner notes.
Charts and certifications
|"Go to Sleep"||32||12||2|
|"2 + 2 = 5"||17||15||—|
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.
- Bendat, Jim. Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of our President 1789–2009. iUniverse Star, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58348-466-1.
- Britton, Amy. Revolution Rock: The Albums Which Defined Two Ages. AuthorHouse, 2011. ISBN 1-4678-8710-2.
- Forbes, Brandon W. Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter Happier More Deductive. Open Court, 2009. ISBN 0-8126-9664-6
- Tate, Joseph. The Music and Art of Radiohead. Ashgate Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7546-3980-0.
- Promo Only: Modern Rock Radio (January 2004) at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Hail to the Thief (booklet). Radiohead. 2003. p. 15.
- Nic Harcourt (26 June 2003). "Radiohead interview". KCRW. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- Reynolds, Simon (2001-07). "Walking on Thin Ice". The Wire. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
- Fricke, David (26 June 2003), "Bitter Prophet: Radiohead's Thom Yorke lifts the veil on "Thief"", Rolling Stone
- Radiohead Hail to the Thief – Interview CD. (Interview). 2003. Promotional interview CD sent to British music press.
- Q, July 2003
- Farber, Jim (4 June 2003). "Radiohead set to steal the show again". The Age. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
- "MAPS AND LEGENDS". NME. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Lucy Jones (7 June 2013). "Hail To The Thief' Is 10 - Revisiting Radiohead's Underrated Masterpiece". NME. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- Radiohead Warm Up". Rolling Stone magazine, 24 May 2002.
- "'Exclusive: Thom on new Radiohead album'". NME. 5 October 2002.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (19 June 2003). "Radiohead: A New Life". MTV. Retrieved 28 March 2007.
- Nick Collins. "CMJ Reviews – Radiohead: Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief". Computer Music Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- Ross, Alex (20 August 2001). "The Searchers". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
- Martin Anderson (20 May 2010). "Yvonne Loriod: Pianist who became the muse and foremost interpreter of the works of her husband Olivier Messiaen". The Independent. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- "Recording 'Hail to the Thief' in Los Angeles". Xfm London. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
- "Radiohead Artist Page". MusicEmissions.com. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
- Bonner, Michael (December 2012), "An Audience With ... Jonny Greenwood", Uncut
- Edwards, Gavin (9 May 2003). "Radiohead Swagger on "Thief"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
- Yorke, Thom; O'Brien, Ed (3 July 2003). Interview with Ray Cokes. Music Planet 2Nite. Arte. Paris, France.
- Lyndsey Parker (28 July 2003). "Putting The Music Biz in Its Right Place". Yahoo!. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- "Thom Yorke on 'Hail to the Thief'". Xfm London. 2 July 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- . (Interview). 4 June 2003. Launch Media. New York City.
- Will Self (13 April 12). "Make rock not war! When Will Self met Thom Yorke". GQ. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- 'Toronto Star', 8 June 2003
- Chuck Klosterman (29 June 2003). "Fitter Happier: Radiohead Return". Spin. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- NME Magazine, 10 May 2003
- Lynskey, Dorian (2011). 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. HarperCollins. p. 519. ISBN 0-06-167015-4.
- Tate, pg. 182.
- Forbes, pg. 237.
- Hail to the Thief (booklet). Radiohead. 2003. p. 8.
- Bendat, p.70.
- Yorke, Thom (10 July 2003). Interview with Charlotte Roche. Fast Forward. Viva.
- Will Hermes. "Radiohead, "Hail to the Thief". Spin. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- "Radiohead's 'sixth man' reveals the secrets behind their covers". The Guardian. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Dombal, Ryan (15 September 2010), "Take Cover: Radiohead Artist Stanley Donwood", Pitchfork Media, archived from the original on 19 September 2011, retrieved 19 September 2011
- Britton, pg. 329.
- Tate, pg. 179.
- Tate, p.178.
- Joe Tangari (27 August 2009). "Radiohead: Hail to the Thief: Special Collectors Edition". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- "Hail to the Thief – Radiohead". Metacritic. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- NME, 3 May 2003, p.27.
- Ben Mathis-Lilley (18 January 2006). "Secrets of the Radiohead Set List". New York. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Tate, pg. 183.
- Christ Ott (9 June 2003). "Radiohead: Hail to the Thief". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Tate, p.184.
- Tate, pg. 184.
- Fricke, David (1 June 2006). "Radiohead's Thom Yorke on Going Solo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
- John Robinson (1 May 2003). "Bagpuss, Ex-Lax and the angriest thing we've ever written". NME.
- Tate, p. 172.
- Rolling Stone, April 2004)
- "Radiohead spoof talent shows". BBC. 7 May 2003. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Cohen, Jonathan (14 June 2003). "Web Leak Fails to Deter Capitol's Radiohead Setup". Billboard.
- "Radiohead TV goes on air". BBC. 10 June 2003. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- "'Yes I am entering Miss World'". The Guardian. 21 November 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- "Radiohead New Material This Year". Xfm. 12 October 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Consumers sue over anti-copy CDs". BBC. 6 January 2004. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Allmusic review
- "Radiohead tracks appear on web". BBC. 2 April 2003. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Andy Frankowski (3 April 2003). "Hail to the Thief: Leaked tracks are stolen early recordings". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Q Magazine, June 2003
- "The way we termed it was "our leak date." Every record for the last four – including my solo record – has been leaked. So the idea was like, we'll leak it, then." Byrne, David (18 December 2007). "David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music". Wired. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
- "Radiohead – Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Jeff Leeds (10 January 2008). "Radiohead Finds Sales, Even After Downloads". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- "Radiohead finds pot of gold in America". Stuff.co.nz. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- "Ailing Vandross Dances Atop Album Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead album crowns US chart". BBC. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- "BPI – Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 February 2012. Note: reader must define search parameter as "Radiohead".
- "Gold Platinum Database: Radiohead". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- "Gold & Platinum Database Search: "Radiohead"". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 19 February 2012. Note: reader must define search parameter as "Radiohead".
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- "French certifications – Radiohead certifications search". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 19 February 2012. Note: reader must click on "Radiohead".
- Kellman, Andy. Hail to the Thief at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Jul 2003, p.120
- Andrew Future (7 June 2004). "Hail to the Thief Review". Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- Rob Brunner (6 June 2003). "Hail to the Thief Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Alexis Petridis (6 June 2003). "CD: Radiohead: Hail to the Thief". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- James Oldham (1 May 2003). "NME Album Reviews – Radiohead: Hail to the Thief". NME. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Hreha, Scott (20 June 2003). "Radiohead: Hail to the Thief". http://www.popmatters.com.
- Robert Christgau. "CG: Radiohead". Robert Christgau website. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Toure (3 June 2003). "Hail to the Thief". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Nick Southall (1 September 2003). "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Nick McCormick (7 June 2003). "CD of the week: firing on all cylinders". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Ethan Brown (16 June 2003). "Radioheadline". New York. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "100 Best Albums of the 2000s: Radiohead, "Hail to the Thief"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Holly Frith (9 January 2012). "Two New Radiohead Tracks Posted Online – Listen". Gigwise. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Past Winners Search". Grammy.com. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Ain't No Fat on This Record". Spin, August 2006.
- Mark Paytress. "Chasing Rain_Bows". Mojo. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- O'Brien, Ed (12 April 2012). Interview with Por Rulo. La Semana De Frente.
- "Thom Yorke's Page – w.a.s.t.e. central". 20 October 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2013. Requires signup.
- Sherwin, Adam (28 December 2007), "EMI accuses Radiohead after group's demands for more fell on deaf ears", The Times, archived from the original on 29 August 2011, retrieved 29 August 2011
- "Coldplay, Radiohead to be reissued on vinyl", NME, 10 July 2008, archived from the original on 2 November 2011, retrieved 2 November 2011
- McCarthy, Sean (18 December 2009), "The Best Re-Issues of 2009: 18: Radiohead: Pablo Honey / The Bends / OK Computer / Kid A / Amnesiac / Hail to the Thief", PopMatters, archived from the original on 29 August 2011, retrieved 29 August 2011
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". LesCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". Australian-Charts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". NorwegianCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". PortugueseCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead" (in German). Musicline. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "RIANZ Chart Archive". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 18 February 2012. Note: reader must click on Chart #1364.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". SwissCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". DutchCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". AustrianCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Official Retail Sales Chart". Polish Music Charts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead – Hail to the Thief". SwedishCharts. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "Radiohead Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- "Radiohead Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Singles Hail to the Thief at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 February 2012.