Song review – All I Need by Radiohead


I was asked to write a review about a love song on an english writing course. “All I Need” by Radiohead was the first one that came to my mind. Which is probably written by Thom Yorke(I’m not sure I can’t find this info in wiki which sucked) the vocalist of the band in their seventh album “In Rainbows” released in 2008 on TBD records.

“Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums, percussion) and Ed O’Brien (guitar, backing vocals).” – Wiki

This song like most alterative/experimental rock musics, is not composed of heavy danceable beats and catchy singer like the pop ones that will catch your ears the first time you hear them. But I’m the kind of person that always desire to avoid following mainstreams, like a hipster. Anyway, I love this song for its lyrics and artistic conception.

The song begins with a series of somber base violin verse from the keyboard, followed by electric bass with light beats like cartilages trying to hold the instruments together. So expressive I can feel my heart resonating with the violin strings. Then the vocal by Thom York, who has the best glowering voice, joins the delicate rhythm of gloom.

“I’m an animal traps in your hot car…I’m all the days that you choose to ignore. You’re all I need, I’m in the middle of your picture, lying in the reefs”

“I am a moth who just wants to share your light, I’m just an insect trying to get out of the dark. I only stick with you because there are no others.”

Then comes the instrumental break of the awesome piano verse with electronic guitar(for the synthesis thing I guess) played by Yorke and Colin Greenwood. Provoking and intensive makes me stick with the song even tighter. And it feels like something inside is about to pour out. Next second, the super sobbing vocal breaks in, repeating “its all right” and “its all wrong” blurry indicating serious confusion has grown inside. Whether loving a person is such a way is right or wrong is unable to be determined clearly. Then finally the vocal and the instruments altogether stops and gives the song a faint end. I have to say that I really love this ending here, really blew my mind!

I know many others will have different perspectives in lyrics analysis. To me this song has definitely used metaphor telling a sad love story about one who can’t gain love from the person he/she loved. Like a girl fell in love with a much older or distant man who she’d never gain affection from. The animal who had been trapped, the i moth who had been flying towards the deadly flame, the insect who had been trying to get out of the dark, they’re all referring to that girl who’s stubborn and absurd enough to continue her desire toward the impossible man. Because there are emptiness and shadows in her world which she desperate to escape. Using tiny creatures to represent the character of the song is an attempt to express the self-insignificant feeling of him/her. Which makes sense as Radiohead i 1992 had released a debut single “Creep” which is an inferior song that posses self-insignificant feelings too.

I’d really like to hear more different views on this song. Feel free to comment!



“I’m just an insect trying to get out of the dark..”


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