In a Nutshell
"Paranoid Android" is a work of mad genius. It's almost seven minutes long (and that's drastically cut back from a fourteen-minute original version). It has four totally distinct musical sections. It has deeply depressing lyrics. It's named after a character from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
. And it's all supposed to be a bit of a joke.
But like its spiritual forefather, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Paranoid Android" – despite all its weirdness, or more likely because of it – just works. Somehow this epic (and epically strange) single rose all the way to #3 on the UK pop singles chart; it wasn't quite so popular in the United States, but it did cement Radiohead's reputation among the most creative and original artists of their generation.
Not bad for a song that had its genesis when singer/songwriter Thom Yorke got scared by an enraged woman in a bar.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Thom Yorke (vocals), Jonny Greenwood (guitar), Ed O’Brien (guitar, backup vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums)
|Producer(s)||Nigel Godrich, Radiohead|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
"Paranoid Android" sounds like the soundtrack to some kind of futuristic dystopian novel; this is what our beleaguered dissidents in 1984
or A Brave New World
should have been listening to between the Two Minutes' Hate and the next dose of Soma, don't you think?
On the Charts
"Paranoid Android" reached #3 on the U.K. Singles Chart, Radiohead's highest chart position ever.
The song ranks #256 on Rolling Stone
's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.