“Paranoid Android” is more symphony than pop song. It’s intricately layered — at times all-out rock, at other times complete noise, at others a somber choir. The second track on 1997’s OK Computer, “Paranoid Android” is Radiohead at their most ambitious. Initially several separate songs, “Paranoid Android” was pieced together by the band à la the Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” (Toward the beginning if you listen closely, you can even hear a snippet of Thom Yorke’s “Fitter Happier” spoken word track in the background.) The song addresses a number of topics: consumerism, death, unborn chicken voices. And Yorke’s voice becomes another instrument, not just a vehicle for lyrics. But the song was almost put together as a bit of a joke, it being so epic at nearly seven minutes long that it was almost too adventurous. Even the climax of “Paranoid Android” is essentially an anticlimax: the druid-like vocal section toward the end as Thom Yorke smoothly sings “Rain down/ rain down/ on me” until the rest of the band returns with sheer guitar and electronica noise. Almost 15 years later, it’s still a song that sounds like nothing that’s come before or since.
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