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Radiohead Influences: their style & sound explained

Radiohead is one of the most influential British bands that emerged from alternative rock in the nineties. Find out right here all about their essential and unique style, its origins, and the artists they inspired.

Radiohead is one of the most groundbreaking bands to emerge in the 1990s. In their early days, they were classified as “alternative rock”, which is, in fact, quite an unspecific genre. The band’s first era culminated with a remarkable album that defined the entire next generation of bands: OK Computer (1997). After this, they changed their course with the legendary Kid A (2000).

Radiohead has been inactive since 2016. Recently, the alternative project integrated by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, The Smile, emerged to attract their fan base once again. It is expected that in 2024, this group will release their second album, Wall of Eyes.

Now let’s review some artists who influenced Radiohead here below:

Which are Radiohead’s musical influences?

Jeff Buckley

A huge influence on Radiohead was the mythical singer and guitarist Jeff Buckley. Known for his beautiful and dramatic version of Leonard Cohen’s classic song, Hallelujah, Buckley was a big inspiration for Thom Roker’s singing style. Actually, Yorke said he was inspired by Jeff Buckley’s intense vocal delivery, notably while recording the song Fake Plastic Trees, from the band’s second album, The Bends (1995).

P.J. Harvey

Polly Jean Harvey is one of the boldest musicians to emerge from the 1990s. Especially in her early, more rock-oriented albums, were a solid alternative rock precedent for Radiohead’s style. As mentioned in P.J. Harvey’s influence diagram, the singer continued to be an inspiration for them with her later and more experimental albums.

It is worth noting that Radiohead’s lead singer collaborated with P.J. Harvey on her 2000 track, which you can listen to here: This Mess We Are In. Thom Yorke recommends P.J. Harvey’s album White Chalk from 2009.

Miles Davis

Did you know that jazz is very important to Radiohead’s musical style? In addition to being noticeable in many percussion and drum arrangements, they were highly influenced by the great trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, who was a crucial inspiration for the British band for their sonic experimentation. According to Radiohead’s guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, when recording “OK Computer,” they wanted to be like him.

Which Miles Davis album does Jonny Greenwood recommend? Bitches Brew, from 1969.


Icelandic singer Björk is another artist that Radiohead members really admire. As we mentioned earlier, after establishing themselves as one of the most important alternative rock bands of the late century, Radiohead decided to change their musical direction. As explained in Björk’s influence chart, she was a very important reference for them to begin their experimentation with electronic music and pop sensibility.

Standout albums from Björk like “Homogenic” from 1997 and “Vespertine” from 2001 were fundamental for Radiohead and their new musical style.

Talk Talk

The album Kid A meant a defining change in Radiohead‘s career. This completely different approach to their own music was inspired by a similar move made by the band Talk Talk, which they are fans of. Talk Talk was originally Synth Pop act but later turned towards Post Rock.


The pioneers of Krautrock and psychedelic rock from Germany, Can, also inspired the band’s new experimental direction from the new millennium. In fact, Radiohead has covered Can’s song The Thief, which they have cited as an influence for the sound of their album Kid A.

Talking Heads

Their name, Radiohead, is taken from a song recorded by Talking Heads for their album True Stories (1986). Thom Yorke and his bandmates are big fans of David Byrne‘s group. Radiohead’s style shifts between songs, as well as their will to experiment with non-conventional rhythms, are inspired by this band.

Other artists and bands that have inspired Radiohead are The Pixies, R.E.M., Depeche Mode, and The Smiths. We have also mentioned them in bands influenced by Joy Division and included them in the influences of Pink Floyd.

Artists influenced by Radiohead

Radiohead band members are Thom Yorke (vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass), Jonny Greenwood (guitar, keyboards), Ed O’Brien (guitar), and Phil Selway (drums). They have been cited as an influence by various artists, of which we list some of the most important here.

Tori Amos

Prominent singer Tori Amos placed OK Computer among her favorite albums. Radiohead’s intelligent and electric rock completely captured her attention. According to the performer, the band’s sonic experimentation at that time was a huge inspiration for her album From the Choirgirl Hotel, from 1998.


It is said that Deftones are the Radiohead of nu-metal. Their acclaimed 2000 album, White Pony, is indeed a departure from the band’s original style and genre. Beginning with that album, Deftones managed to combine their heavy guitars and Chino Moreno’s versatile singing style with careful pop arrangements and particular experimentation with sonic spaces.

Also, while they recorded their acclaimed Around The Fur, in 1997, Deftones were already fans of Radiohead’s OK Computer, released a few months earlier that same year.

Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic Post-Rock band with which Radiohead has maintained a kind of mutual influence, a musical dialogue, over the years. This is especially visible in Agaetis Byrjun (1999), after Radiohead‘s seminal OK Computer and before their change in style with Kid A.


The Britpop reminiscent trio Doves have incorporated experimental, progressive, and electronic elements throughout their discography, leading many to point to them as the successors of Radiohead’s legacy. The comparison between the two bands was usually in a positive way, which is not the case with Muse, which was more of a joke.

Arcade Fire

Here we have Arcade Fire, who are friends with Radiohead and have played live with them on several occasions. Win Butler, Arcade Fire‘s lead singer and songwriter, is a big fan of Radiohead’s music and he has even written a review on their most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool, which was released in 2016.

Muse & Coldplay

Radiohead has been cited as an influence by many 2000s artists. Two names widely associated with the band are Muse and Coldplay, whose albums often have been compared to Radiohead’s earliest work. So if you want to hear the roots of these two bands, perhaps you should check songs from Pablo Honey from 1993, which includes the hit Creep. Also, the previously mentioned The Bends and OK Computer are relevant as inspirations for Muse and Coldplay.

Other bands inspired by Radiohead include Elbow, The National, Foals, and The Mars Volta. If you like Radiohead, you should obviously check out the project of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, The Smile, which we mentioned earlier.

Original Radiohead’s influence diagram

This is a new version of the Radiohead influence diagram. Miss the old version of this chart? You can still find it here:

Radiohead: influencias musicales experimentales