2 + 2 = 5 (song)

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"2 + 2 = 5"
Single by Radiohead
from the album Hail to the Thief
Released 17 November 2003
Format CD, DVD, 12"
Genre Alternative rock, experimental rock
Length 3:21
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) Radiohead
Producer(s) Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead singles chronology
"Go to Sleep"
(2003)
"2 + 2 = 5"
(2003)
"Jigsaw Falling into Place"
(2008)

"2 + 2 = 5" (officially known as "2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm.)") is a song by the English rock band Radiohead, released as the third and final single from their sixth album Hail to the Thief in 2003. The song reached number 15 on the United Kingdom singles chart.[1] The song was premiered in San Sebastian, Spain on 31 July 2002.[2]

In 2008, the song was featured on Radiohead: The Best Of, a compilation album.

Lyrics and background[edit]

The song's title recalls the symbol of unreality from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.[2] In the book, inhabitants of an authoritarian future state are made to engage in doublethink, replacing their own conscience and beliefs with those imposed from above. The 'Thought Police' in the novel coerce self-aware citizens into admitting that two plus two equals five to prove the point that even though two plus two does not logically equal five, logic does not matter when no one else is willing to agree that two plus two equals anything else, under threat of pain or death.

The phrase 'hail to the thief', from which the album took its name, appears in this song. It is a reference to the song Hail to the Chief, the official anthem of the President of the United States of America. Yorke has said of the album that “I desperately tried not to write anything political ... But it's just fucking there.”[3] The album title is "explicit criticism" of the 2000 election of George W. Bush over Al Gore, despite the latter receiving more of the popular vote.[4][5]

Vocal tune[edit]

The vocal melody text-paints the song's title with intervals. Yorke sings "TWO and TWO" on an ascending 4th (C4–F4) followed by "ALWAYS MAKES" on an ascending 5th (C4–G4), thereby juxtaposing the true and fictional sums of 2+2.[6]

Alternative title (The Lukewarm)[edit]

Hail to the Thief lists subtitles, or alternative titles, for each of its songs. The alternative title for "2 + 2 = 5" is "The Lukewarm." Singer Thom Yorke has mentioned it as a reference to the works of Dante.[7]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[8] 54
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 12
UK Singles Chart 15
Ireland Singles Chart 36
French Singles Chart 64
Dutch Singles Chart 99

Track listings[edit]

Promotional single
CD CDRDJ6623
  1. "2 + 2 = 5" - 3:21
12" 12RDJWL6623
  1. "Sktterbrain" (Four Tet remix)
  2. "Remyxomatosis" (Cristian Vogel RMX)
Single
CD one CDR6623
  1. "2 + 2 = 5" - 3:21
  2. "Remyxomatosis" (Cristian Vogel RMX) - 5:07
  3. "There There" (first demo) - 7:43
CD two CDRS6623
  1. "2 + 2 = 5" - 3:21
  2. "Skttrbrain" (Four Tet remix) - 4:26
  3. "I Will" (Los Angeles version) - 2:14
DVD DVDR6623
  1. "2 + 2 = 5" - 3:21
  2. "Sit Down Stand Up" (Ed Holdsworth's video)
  3. "The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time" (excerpt)

Personnel[edit]

  • Thom Yorke - vocals, guitar
  • Jonny Greenwood - guitar, analogue systems, ondes Martenot
  • Ed O'Brien - guitar, effects, backing vocals
  • Colin Greenwood - bass
  • Phil Selway - drums, percussion

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive". Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Greenplastic.com Song Information
  3. ^ "40 Bone-Chilling Tracks That Predict A Dark Dystopian Future". NME. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Hegarty, Paul; Halliwell, Martin (2011). Beyond and before: Progressive rock since the 1960s. New York: Continuum. p. 238. ISBN 0826423329. 
  5. ^ Levy, Michael. "United States presidential election of 2000". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  6. ^ Osborn, Brad. "Understanding Through-Composition in Post-Rock, Math-Metal, and other Post-Millennial Experimental Rock Genres". Music Theory Online 17, no. 3. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Thom Yorke on ‘Hail To The Thief’". XFM online. Retrieved 29 October 2006. 
  8. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 

External links[edit]