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Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs: Last.FM Chart Domination

In an era when fewer and fewer people are buying physical copies of albums, album sales charts have become increasingly meaningless. As a result, it’s becoming harder to get an idea of just how many people are spending time with new records. Thankfully, Last.FM automatically tracks all of its users’ listening habits and I always find it interesting to analyze some of the Charts on the site.

Radiohead are almost always in the top 3 (usually #2) of the Overall Artists chart but, unsurprisingly, upon the release of The King Of Limbs, the band jumped ahead of The Beatles and have been there the last couple weeks now. This will likely not change for a while (especially considering how long Radiohead held the top spot after the release of In Rainbows).

For the Radiohead trainspotter, however, the far more interesting chart is the Top Tracks chart. Last.FM sorts the top songs by the total number of listeners in a given week rather than a total number of plays (so if I play a song once or twenty times a week, it still counts the same toward the chart). Since the release of The King Of Limbs two weeks ago, the album’s eight songs have been the top eight songs played by Last.FM users. Again, not really that surprising given how popular Radiohead is amongst the Last.FM community.

What is interesting to note is the placing of the songs. Songs featured earlier in any record are bound to get more plays but Last.FM’s top song is Lotus Flower, indicating listeners are skipping to that one and maybe not always playing anything else from the record. Codex is another song that really seems to be connecting with people given its #3 chart spot. Morning Mr Magpie, however, is at #8 on the chart despite being the second song on the album. While I might be wrong (!), I think this has less to do with people skipping it (it’s one of my favourites, actually) and more to do with some people retagging the song with a full stop after the Mr (like this: Mr.) rather than leaving the song tagged as it was when it was sent out from This results in two separate listings for the same song on the Last.FM site. Oh, the exciting details of mp3 tagging!

Much like the Top Tracks chart, the Loved Tracks chart (indicating the most “Loved” songs on the site) also indicates that Lotus Flower and Codex are many people’s favourite songs from The King Of Limbs as they place at #1 and #4, respectively. The next song from The King Of Limbs to appear on the chart? Separator at #29. Clearly the closing track is connecting with a lot of people as well.

While many of Last.FM’s charts are currently dominated by the band, Radiohead fans shouldn’t be completely pleased with themselves; despite placing tenth on this week’s chart, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way has the second most total plays on the site, sitting behind Lotus Flower. Maybe people just keep listening to see if she really did rip off Express Yourself so blatantly?

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the tracks from The King Of Limbs do over the next few weeks on Last.FM. It may not be the Billboard charts but I think in some way it does capture the current musical zeitgeist pretty accurately.

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  • On the subject of Magpie…sorry, but I think it has more to do with the fact that it’s the weakest track on the album, which it is. It shows up nowhere on the “Loved Track” chart, and deservedly so. “Lotus”, “Bloom”, and “Codex” also deserve to be at the top, so I’m happy.

  • magpie is amazing! the drop at the end is spectacular you twat!

  • Yep, I love Magpie as well. It along with Bloom and Separator seem to have become my three favourites.

  • Yeah, I was talking to a friend about the album and he said the only song he doesn’t like is Magpie. I was very surprised because that is one of my favorites from the album.

  • Actually, autocorrects certain misspelt tags that it receives, so “Mr” and “Mr.” should be co-grouped…

  • I was wondering about that Chris…but there is also a dedicated page with “Mr.” that has about 12,000 listeners or something. I thought when they got co-grouped those old pages didn’t exist anymore. THIS IS EXCITING TALK.

  • It’s weird but when I listen to KOL I start at Lotus Flower and play till the end of the album and then go to Bloom. I always want to hear Lotus Flower first. Maybe others are doing this.

  • @Chris, it doesn’t always. I’m pretty sure that there is an option to check a box in a person’s settings that enables/disables the auto-correction.

    Love Mr Magpie though, when I first heard the spooky vocals about 2 minutes into the track the first time I played the album, I knew the king of limbs had arrived.

  • I think Magpie will sound good live, especially the bit in the middle where it all goes quiet and then kicks back in.

  • I treat King of Limbs as a short-player: it begins with “Little by Little” and ends with “Seperator”. “Bloom” has a bad vocal melody and goes nowhere, and “Magpie” sounds like a straight-ahead rock tune that was needlessly transposed into a Can song.

    I love every moment of tracks 3-8, though.

  • Also… “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is #26 on the Top Tracks chart?!!?

  • Last.FM may attempt to autocorrect but it doesn’t always do it. Not that long ago I looked at the Beatles top tracks chart and I noticed many instances of the same songs having multiple entries….

    Actually, I remember this also happening with Hail to the Thief because some people have the songs with the full title and some have it without the (paranthesis) stuff.

  • Separator
    Lotus Flower
    Give Up The Ghost
    Little by Little
    Morning Mr Magpie

  • Best Songs:
    1 – Seperator
    2 – Give Up the Ghost
    3 – Lotus Flower
    4 – Codex (never climaxes or else would have been #1)
    5 – Bloom
    6 – Little by Little
    7 – Magpie
    8 – Feral

    Conclusion: 2nd Half > 1st Half

  • everyone seems to be all about the back half of the album. but i think the front half is great. it took me a few listens to start to hear the movements in the songs but i love them. tracks 1-5 are my favorite so far. i’ll get around to separator in good time.

  • The front half is definitely amazing, just not as accessible as the back half. I think they intentionally sequenced the album this way to expose people to less accessible sounds and to give fans an idea of where their sound is headed.

  • New work up for Lotus Flower!

  • Bloom is my favourite – they could have just released that and I would have been happy.

  • Codex
    Lotus Flower
    Give Up The Ghost
    Morning Mr Mag Pie
    Little By Little

  • TKOL definitely deserves to rule Here’s my list (subject to change):


    Lotus Flower

    Morning Mr Magpie

    Give Up The Ghost


    Little by Little



  • codex accepts poop expellage from magpie

  • New charts up for this week. Still all TKOL.

  • Getting to the the top of the last fm charts is hardly an accomplishment when you consider the crap that regularly resides in the top ten.

    Don’t get me wrong. The King of Limbs is a masterpiece IMO, but i’m just saying…

  • tracks the listening habits of computer geeks who know about scrobbling plugins. It’s a biased sample to say the least!

  • my favs at the moment are bloom, little by little and codex.

    as soon as bloom comes in with its looped keys, I knew I was in for a treat. I love the barely reigned in chaos of it, and I really like the way the vocal and bass interplay.

    little by little captures a certain twitchy desperation which i think only radiohead can do, its so delicately played and Thom’s delivery of the hook really hit home.

    codex is just really vivid, and again a great vocal.

    I can’t get behind separator at the moment, maybe it’ll grow on me.

    what do ppl think of the vocals on the album generally though? I think overall they’re really strong, restrained perhaps, but very expressive.

  • I think Codex is way overrated, and Morning Mr Magpie is one of the best songs of the album. No doubt, Lotus Flower is clearly the key track.

    Thats to me, and so far.

  • codex overrated??! wow

  • I can’t believe how much this album has grown on me. Hated it on first listen. After living with it for a few weeks now, it is wonderful. I even really dig Feral. Bloom and Give up the Ghost are my favourites right now, but the beauty of a Radiohead album for me is that always changes.

  • For what it’s worth, my favorites are Morning Mr. Magpie, Little By Little and Codex — and I seem to be the only one who thinks “Little By Little” is the best song on the album. But … my opinion is right! So there.

  • @Honky_D, “Little by Little” IS the best song on the album! It’s the song IMO that has the Jonny touch 🙂

  • thom yorke is doing a secret show tonight in LA!

  • I want radiohead in Lisbonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…. 🙂

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