“Paranoid Android” - Radiohead

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"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?'"

Early versions of the song performed in 1996 had a different structure and varying lyrics. According to members of the band, "Paranoid Android" originally exceeded 10 minutes. It is unknown whether this long version, also fabled to include organ solos, was ever played live. However, it was possibly played by Radiohead at the Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium in July 1996, apparently the song's first live performance.

One month later, Radiohead began a brief tour as opening band for Alanis Morissette, in which they premiered many new songs that would go on to make up OK Computer, and played "Paranoid Android" regularly. By this point, the song was six to eight minutes long, without extended organ solos. However, the ending differed markedly from the final version of "Paranoid Android." The third section originally had the lyrics "Hallelujah", where the final version has "Rain down...", and instead of the lyrics "God loves his children /God loves his children, yeah," the final line of the song was reportedly, "God loves his children / That's why he kills 'em, yeah," which was part of a different third section which also included other different lyrics and was extended longer, eventually returning to the opening theme and guitar riff of the song's first section, while the released version ultimately went straight into the final guitar solo. When played live since 1997, the song is performed as on the album, lacking these elements.


Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau has performed a cover of Paranoid Android on his album "Largo". It is also a live performance on his 2004 "Live in Tokyo" disc. Tribute and Radiohead cover albums also prominently feature the song; Christopher O'Riley's Hold Me to This features a version, as do Sia Furler on Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads and the reggae group Easy Star All-Stars on their cover album Radiodread. Los Angeles rock band Phantom Planet has also covered the song; a version of it is on their album Connect Sets, and they perform it live. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.