Paranoid Android (6:23)

Cover of OK Computer

From OK Computer and 210 other releases

“Paranoid Android” is a song by English alternative rock band Radiohead, and was the lead single from the band’s third album OK Computer (1997). Its release marked the start of Radiohead’s reputation as art rock innovators, and the album subsequently received huge acclaim. The song’s structure, though unique among Radiohead material, was also responsible for most of the comparisons with 1970s progressive rock that the band subsequently earned.

This song was inspired by some events that Thom Yorke witnessed at and after a star studded awards show. The lyrics “kicking, screaming, Gucci little piggy” are one of the more obvious references.

Singer Thom Yorke often refers to it as a “joke” song, though not derisively; the band continues to play it live at nearly every concert, usually toward the end of the set. The song’s title refers to the depressed robot Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Paranoid Android was recorded in actress Jane Seymour’s fifteenth-century mansion, a house that Yorke was convinced was haunted. Bassist Colin Greenwood said “On ‘Paranoid Android’ what we were into was the idea of a DJ Shadow meets The Beatles thing.” Thom Yorke also compared the song to The Beatles’ work, saying “it really started out as three separate songs and we didn’t know what to do with them. Then we thought of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ — which was obviously three different bits that John Lennon put together — and said ‘Why don’t we try that?’”

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