No Surprises

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"No Surprises"
Radiohead - No Surprises (CD1).jpg
Single by Radiohead
from the album OK Computer
B-side
  • "Palo Alto"
  • "How I Made My Millions"
Released12 January 1998 (1998-01-12)
FormatCD single
RecordedJuly 1996
StudioCanned Applause, Didcot, Oxfordshire, England
Genre
Length3:49
Label
Songwriter(s)Radiohead
Producer(s)
Radiohead singles chronology
"Lucky"
(1997)
"No Surprises"
(1998)
"Airbag"
(1998)
Audio sample
Music video
"No Surprises" on YouTube

"No Surprises" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released as the fourth single from their third studio album, OK Computer (1997), on 12 January 1998. The music video features songwriter Thom Yorke singing inside a diving helmet as it fills with water. The single peaked at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

Recording[edit]

Radiohead wrote "No Surprises" while touring with R.E.M. in 1995.[1] It was the first song recorded in the sessions for OK Computer. Singer Thom Yorke said the "childlike guitar sound set the mood for the whole album", and that they were aiming for a mood similar to the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds (1966).[2]

The version on the album is the first take recorded. Yorke said: "We did endless versions afterwards [...] and they were all just covers of the first version. So we gave up and went back to [the original]."[3]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "No Surprises" was directed by Grant Gee. The video consists of a single close-up shot of Yorke inside an astronaut-style dome helmet. The lyrics are shown throughout the entire song slowly scrolling upwards but mirrored, as they are being reflected off of the dome. After the first verse, the helmet begins to fill with water. Yorke continues singing as he attempts to lift his head above the rising water. Once the bubble completely fills, Yorke is motionless for over a minute, after which the water is released and he resumes singing. For Yorke's safety, the video was filmed at high speed and played back in slow motion.[4]

Yorke, in the music video (left) and filming the music video (right)

One of the scenes in Gee's documentary about Radiohead, Meeting People Is Easy, cuts from the British news channel Sky News showing and (unfavourably) discussing the video to several takes of its filming. The song speeds up during filming when his face is fully submerged, until he breaks the rubber seal to release the water and members of the film crew help him out. Despite the safety measures, Yorke is shown getting visibly more uncomfortable and agitated with each take.

Release[edit]

"No Surprises" was released as the fourth single from OK Computer on 12 January 1998.[5] It reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.[4] In 2008, it was included in Radiohead: The Best Of.[6] An early version with different lyrics is included in the 2017 OK Computer reissue.[7]

Legacy[edit]

In October 2011, NME placed it at number 107 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[8]

No Surprises/Running from Demons[edit]

No Surprises/Running from Demons
Nosurprises front.jpg
EP by
Released10 December 1997
Length19:58
Label
Producer
Radiohead EP chronology
My Iron Lung
(1994)
''No Surprises/Running from Demons''
(1997)
Airbag/How Am I Driving?
(1998)

No Surprises/Running from Demons is the fourth extended play (EP) by Radiohead, released in December 1997. The EP was aimed at the Japanese market to promote the band's Japan tour of January 1998.

Content[edit]

"Meeting in the Aisle" is Radiohead's first completely instrumental track.

This "remixed" version of "Pearly*" (as opposed to the "original version" available on the "Paranoid Android" single and Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP) features clearer production values, louder guitar at the beginning of the song, and a different guitar line at the end.

The song "Bishop's Robes" refers to Yorke's experience of cruelty at school. Though he claims that he suffered no physical punishment as a schoolboy, violence was felt in ghastly mind games, and in the teacher's cruelty: hence the line "bastard headmaster." The song covers similar thematic material as The Smiths' "The Headmaster Ritual", which Radiohead covered in one of their 2007 webcasts.

"Bishop's Robes" is also included on the "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" 'CD1' single.

"A Reminder" contains excerpts from the reports of the Prague metro in the Czech Republic.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway).

CD 1
  1. "No Surprises" – 3:51
  2. "Palo Alto" – 3:44
  3. "How I Made My Millions" – 3:07
CD 2
  1. "No Surprises" – 3:50
  2. "Airbag" (Live in Berlin) – 4:49
  3. "Lucky" (Live in Florence) – 4:34
No Surprises/Running from Demons
  1. "No Surprises" – 3:49
  2. "Pearly*" – 3:38
  3. "Melatonin" – 2:08
  4. "Meeting in the Aisle" – 3:07
  5. "Bishop's Robes" – 3:23
  6. "A Reminder" – 3:51

Personnel[edit]

  • Thom Yorke – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Jonny Greenwood – glockenspiel, organ, string synth, electric guitar
  • Ed O'Brien – electric guitar, tambourine, backing vocals
  • Colin Greenwood – bass guitar
  • Phil Selway – drums, tambourine

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[20] Gold 25,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Alternative versions and covers[edit]

Versions have also been recorded by Luka Bloom, Malia, Blake Morgan, Yaron Herman Trio, Christopher O'Riley, Paige, Peter Jöback, Motorama, Louis Durra, Stanisław Sojka, Scott Matthew, Northern State, and Postmodern Jukebox.[22] American singer songwriter Amanda Palmer recorded a version of this song for her album of Radiohead covers performed on ukulele, "Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele". It was also covered by Blake Morgan on his 2006 album Silencer. A piano interpretation of the song was used in the second episode of the HBO show Westworld in 2016.[23] Roman GianArthur, of Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Arts Society, released OK Lady, an EP of Radiohead R&B mash up covers including No Surprises (featuring Monáe) in the fall of 2015.[24]

Regina Spektor version[edit]

"No Surprises"
Regina Spektor - No Surprises.png
Single by Regina Spektor
Released27 April 2010 (2010-04-27)
FormatDigital download
Length3:51
LabelSire
Songwriter(s)Radiohead
Regina Spektor singles chronology
"Eet"
(2009)
"No Surprises"
(2010)
"All the Rowboats"
(2012)

Regina Spektor, alternative pianist and anti-folk musician, released a one-track charity single of the song on April 27, 2010.[25] All proceeds of the song go to the Doctors Without Borders Emergency Relief Fund.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Randall, p. 228
  2. ^ Moran, Caitlin (July 1997). "I was feeling incredible hysteria and panic…". Select: 92.
  3. ^ Randall, p. 229
  4. ^ a b Randall, p. 254
  5. ^ Randall, p. 253
  6. ^ "The Best of Radiohead - Radiohead - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  7. ^ Atkins, Jamie (22 June 2017). "OK Computer – OKNOTOK 1997-2017". Record Collector. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  8. ^ "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years - NME". 6 October 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Radiohead – No Surprises". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  10. ^ "Ultratop.be – Radiohead – No Surprises" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  11. ^ "Lescharts.com – Radiohead – No Surprises" (in French). Les classement single.
  12. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (29.1 – 5.2. 1998)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 30 January 1998. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – No Surprises". Irish Singles Chart.
  14. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Radiohead – No Surprises" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  15. ^ "Charts.nz – Radiohead – No Surprises". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ^ "Notowanie nr839" (in Polish). LP3. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ "Najlepsze single na UK Top 40-1998 wg sprzedaży" (in Polish). Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 4 June 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Italian single certifications – Radiohead – No Surprises" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Select "2018" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "No Surprises" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  21. ^ "British single certifications – Radiohead". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 November 2016. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Radiohead in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  22. ^ "A 1930's Jazz Remake of Radiohead's "No Surprises," featuring Chloe Feoranzo - Postmodern Jukebox". Postmodern Jukebox. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  23. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (October 3, 2016). "Ranking All the Songs on the Dope 'Westworld' Soundtrack". Inverse. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  24. ^ "Stream Roman GianArthur's R&B Radiohead x D'Angelo Covers EP OK Lady". Stereogum. 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  25. ^ "No Surprises - Single by Regina Spektor - Download No Surprises - Single on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  26. ^ "Regina Itunes Will Release Cover Radiohead Song No Surprises". Reginasplash.warnerreprise.com. 2010-04-25. Archived from the original on 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2011-02-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Footman, Tim (2007). Welcome to the Machine: OK Computer and the Death of the Classic Album. Chrome Dreams. ISBN 0-634-04619-5.
  • Randall, Mac (2000). Exit Music: The Radiohead Story. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-385-33393-5.
  • OK Computer: Radiohead: Guitar, Tablature, Vocal. Alfred Publishing Company. 2001. ISBN 0-7579-9166-1.

External links[edit]