Paranoid Android – The best track of Ok Computer.

Credit to covershut.com

A masterpiece. Personally, I think is one of the most amazing songs of all time. The shifting musical structure, the seemingly non-sense lyrics and probably one of the best vocal performances by Thom Yorke make this track memorable.

First, the instrumentation is beautiful. A steady strumming of an acoustic guitar accompanied by a subtle electric guitar introduces us to the voice of Yorke. During the first two minutes, the song is soft and calm but at the same time it is loaded with strange allusions to annoyance, paranoia, revenge and disdain:

Please could you stop the noise, I’m trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)

When I am king, you will be first against the wall
With your opinion which is of no consequence at all
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but no android)
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but no android)

 The line “I may be paranoid, but no android” is almost imperceptible, and it is said by a robotic voice which actually gives the sentence a sarcastic tone. After this tension-building introduction, heavy guitar riffs and distorted sounds take the lead, giving us that powerful feeling of despair, angst, and chaos all done by using a most prominent guitar riff/solo… It’s brilliant and unforgettable.

Like many Radiohead songs, the contrasting musical game of tranquility versus restlessness can easily be compared to any Beethoven symphony. It holds a steady and charming feeling but then, it releases all its power. It’s challenging but addicting at the same time.

The rest of the song efficiently builds momentum. After the storm has passed, Yorke enters in a really dark and depressing mood. Background hunting voices sound along with a guitar and solid beat drum, while Yorke’s “raindownraindown come on raind down on me” line is repeated many times with different accentuations. It sounds creepy, but right there it’s where an anxious feeling absorbs the listener, just to be followed by another epic and massive discharge of clashing guitars, drums, and electronic sounds.

I really wanted to analyze the musical composition of the song because it has this classical structure but at the same time it’s modern and challenging. And even though, Paranoid Android was written in the 90’s, I think it is a milestone inside the rock/alternative genre.

The lyrics uses so many different metaphors, that I think anyone one can adapt his own personal meaning to the song.  The fact that bassist Colin Greenwood described Paranoid Android as “just a joke, a laugh, getting wasted together over a couple of evenings and putting some different pieces together” makes you question the real meaning of the track; however, knowing Radiohead and especially Thom Yorke, I know there has to be more substance behind it.  Yorke said in an interview that the line “kicking squeeling gucci little piggy” was a reference to an event in a bar, where a woman (probably high on coke) became violent after someone spill a drink on her. He was afraid by the look of the woman and the theme of inhumanity came to him. (Read article here.)

Personally, I think Paranoid Android is about humans becoming egocentric machines. The best example I can give, is the materialistic minds of certain individuals attached to their technological atmosphere and luxury. Those are some of the “gucci little piggies” I see walking through the streets of New York. Those, to my disgust are the paranoid androids; empty, blindfolded scavengers, glued to their iphone, well-deserving victims of the king’s punishment. (Or in this case, queen.)

For its musical excellence, its awkward lyricism and video (I forgot to talk about the video!!!) I give Paranoid Android…. 5 out of 5.

Lyrics found in the CD Booklet of  Ok Computer- 1997.
Credits also to greenplastic.com 
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