No Surprises (3:49)

Cover of OK Computer

From OK Computer and 184 other releases

No Surprises is a song by the British alternative rock band Radiohead. It was released as the third and final single from the group’s 1997 album OK Computer. Accompanied by a music video that featured a single shot of singer Thom Yorke’s head in a plastic bubble that filled with water, the single peaked at number four in the United Kingdom.

Radiohead wrote “No Surprises” while touring with the band R.E.M. in 1995. “No Surprises” was the first song Radiohead recorded on the first day of recording sessions for OK Computer. The version of the song on the album is the first take recorded. Singer Thom Yorke commented, “We did endless versions afterwards […] and they were all just covers of the first version. So we gave up and went back to .”

The lyrics originally told the story of a man who has become fed up with the way things are working out for him and is having problems with his girlfriend. Two lines from this version are, “He was sick of her excuses / To not take off her dress when bleedin’ in the bathroom.” Preparing to record the song, Yorke altered the lyrics dramatically; instead of telling a love story about a man and his girlfriend, the song now appears to figuratively reference taking one’s own life (as evidenced in lyrics such as “I’ll take a quiet life/A handshake/Of carbon monoxide”) to illustrate contempt for the complacency of British “normality”.

“No Surprises” was released as the third single from OK Computer on 12 January 1998. The single reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.

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