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Let Down (Radiohead song)

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"Let Down"
Image of CD with "Radiohead" printed at the top and further text below
Promo CD issued in the US
Promotional single by Radiohead
from the album OK Computer
Released6 September 1997
  • Parlophone
  • Capitol
  • Nigel Godrich
  • Radiohead
Radiohead singles chronology
"Karma Police"
"Let Down"

Listen to the song Let Down (Radiohead song) or Buy it on amazon

"Let Down" is a song by English alternative rock band Radiohead, from their third studio album OK Computer (1997). It was released in September 1997, and reached number 29 on the US Hot Modern Rock tracks chart. It was included on Radiohead: The Best Of (2008).

Background and recording[edit]

"Let Down" was intended to be the first single off of the album, but "Paranoid Android" was chosen instead, which, along with "Karma Police", solidified the band's popularity.[2] The track was ultimately not released as a single because the band was unsatisfied with the video they had produced, and ended up losing money.[2] The song reached #29 in the US Hot Modern Rock tracks chart.[3]

The song was recorded at St Catherine's Court mansion ballroom. Thom Yorke apparently was inspired to write the song while sitting in a pub, noting the customers "clinging on to bottles" and sensing in them the "emptiest of feelings," a sense of disappointment.[4]

Live performances[edit]

The band has rarely performed "Let Down" live. After a 2006 performance, the song was not featured on any of the band's concert setlists for ten years until it was revived on the tour supporting A Moon Shaped Pool.[5] The multi-track recording used in the studio version makes the song difficult to recreate live, especially with respect to the layering of multiple simultaneous vocal parts sung by Yorke. When it has been played live, Yorke has typically opted to skip the final verse and sing the accompanying background vocal part instead.[6]

"Let Down" came second in an NME poll which asked fans to vote for the Radiohead song that they most wanted to hear at V Festival 2006.[7]

Influence and cover versions[edit]

In 2006 the song was covered by reggae musicians Toots & the Maytals for the Easy Star All Stars compilation album Radiodread, a complete makeover of OK Computer in ska, dub and reggae musical styles. An equally melancholy cover of the song is performed by Pedro the Lion on their 2005 live release Tour E.P. The electronic artist Let Down Loser got his name from this song.[8]

Track listing[edit]

CD promo single[9]

  1. "Let Down" – 4:59
  2. "Let Down (Edit)" – 4:27
  3. "Karma Police" – 4:21



  • Colin Greenwood
  • Jonny Greenwood
  • Ed O'Brien
  • Philip Selway
  • Thom Yorke

Additional personnel

  • Stanley Donwood – illustrations
  • Nigel Godrich – production, engineering


Chart (1997) Peak
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[10] 29


  1. Gerard, Chris (4 April 2014). "50 Best Alternative Albums of the '90s". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Footman 2007, p. 74.
  3. "Radiohead chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  4. "Prepare Yourself for Radiohead's New Album Sunday With This Essential Playlist". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  5. Cheng, Cheryl (5 August 2016). "Radiohead Takes Down Donald Trump at Sold-Out Shrine Auditorium Show in L.A." The Hollywood Reporter.
  6. Ehmann 2020, p. 53.
  7. "Radiohead close V Festival 2006". NME. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  8. "From Arlo Parks to Prince: The best Radiohead covers of all time". Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  9. Footman 2008, p. 270.
  10. "Radiohead chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 17 May 2021.


External links[edit]

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