Radiohead's most depressing song revealed

Thom Yorke busts out a sad song on the keyboard (Getty)
Thom Yorke busts out a sad song on the keyboard (Getty)

Radiohead have a reputation for moping, and it seems they're only getting worse.

According to data scientist, blogger and Radiohead fan Charlie Thompson, the band's critically acclaimed 2016 opus A Moon Shaped Pool is not only their saddest album - it contains their all-time most miserable song, 'True Love Waits'.

"Radiohead has been my favourite band for a while, so I am used to people politely suggesting that I play something 'less depressing'," Thompson writes on his website.

"Much of Radiohead's music is undeniably sad, and this post catalogues my journey to quantify that sadness, concluding in a data-driven determination of their most depressing song."

Radiohead's albums ranked by sadness
How each of the albums rank (Charlie Thompson / rcharlie.com)

To begin, Thompson turned to Spotify, which provides data on every one of the 30 million songs in its database - including 'valence', a measure of its positivity.

"Valence provides a measure of how sad a song sounds from a musical perspective," writes Thompson.

On sound alone, 'True Love Waits' tied for last place with 'We Suck Young Blood', a slow, brooding track from 2003's Hail to the Thief which contains the lyrics: "Our veins are thin / Our rivers poisoned / We want the sweet meats / We want young blood."

Slow songs dominate the list of the band's saddest-sounding, including OK Computer's closing track 'The Tourist' and Kid A's Motion Picture Soundtrack.

"While valence serves as an out-of-the box measure of musical sentiment, the emotions behind song lyrics are much more elusive," Thompson explains, turning to lyrical analysis.

On words, Radiohead's most depressing song would be 1995's 'High and Dry', according to Thompson.

"Specifically, the algorithm picked out the words 'broke', 'fall', 'hate', 'kill', and 'leave' - the last of which was repeated 15 times in the chorus."

Punching all the data into an equation, Thompson determined that overall, 'True Love Waits' was the song most likely to be played at a Radiohead fan's funeral.

"Rightly so, given that it tied for lowest valence and ranked fourth for highest percentage of sad words."

Lyrics from the song include: "I'm not living, I'm just killing time / Your tiny hands, your crazy-kitten smile / Just don't leave / Don't leave."

The song, which dates from the mid-1990s, appeared on the band's 2001 live album I Might Be Wrong, but wasn't recorded in the studio until A Moon Shaped Pool.

2007's In Rainbows ranked as the band's least-dreary record.

Thompson made an interactive chart showing where each album and song ranked, which can be viewed on his website.

Radiohead's top 10 most depressing songs

  • 'True Love Waits'
  • 'Give Up The Ghost'
  • 'Motion Picture Soundtrack'
  • 'Let Down'
  • 'Pyramid Song'
  • 'Exit Music (For a Film)'
  • 'Dollars & Cents'
  • 'High And Dry'
  • 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man'
  • 'Videotape'

The saddest songs ever made

A number of polls have been taken on the world's saddest songs. 'Tears in Heaven' by Eric Clapton often ranks highly, topping Rolling Stone's list in 2013, and also appearing on lists by Ultimate Classic Rock and Paste magazine.

The song, about the death of his four-year-old son who fell out a 53rd storey window, was a hit in 1992.

Other songs often cited as the saddest include Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry', Nirvana's 'Something in the Way' and Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt', which was memorably covered by country legend Johnny Cash shortly before his death in 2003.

Newshub.

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