No Surprises

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"No Surprises"
Single by Radiohead
from the album OK Computer
Released 12 January 1998 (1998-01-12)
Format
Recorded July 1996 at Canned Applause, Didcot, Oxfordshire, England
Genre
Length 3:49
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) Radiohead
Producer(s)
Radiohead singles chronology
"Lucky"
(1997)
"No Surprises"
(1998)
"Pyramid Song"
(2001)
'CD2' cover
Audio sample
file info · help
Music video
"No Surprises" on YouTube

"No Surprises" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. It was released as the third and final single from the group's 1997 album OK Computer. It was accompanied by a music video that featured a single shot of singer Thom Yorke's head in a plastic bubble filling with water.

The single peaked at number 4 in the UK charts.

Origin and recording[edit]

Radiohead wrote "No Surprises" while touring with R.E.M. in 1995.[1] It was the first song recorded on the first day of sessions for OK Computer. "That childlike guitar sound set the mood for the whole album", said Thom Yorke. "We were going for that Pet Sounds vibe."[2]

The version on the album is the first take recorded. "We did endless versions afterwards [...] and they were all just covers of the first version", Yorke recalled. "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 solely of a single close-up shot of Thom Yorke's head 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 pulls the rubber bottom out to release the water and members of the film crew help him out. Despite the safety measures, Yorke is shown getting more visibly uncomfortable and agitated with each take.

Release[edit]

"No Surprises" was released as the third single from OK Computer on 12 January 1998.[5] The single reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.[4]

In 2008, the song was featured on the Radiohead: The Best Of collection.

Legacy[edit]

In October 2011, NME placed it at number 107 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[6]

No Surprises/Running from Demons[edit]

No Surprises/Running from Demons
Nosurprises front.jpg
EP by Radiohead
Released 10 December 1997
Genre Alternative rock
Length 19:58
Label Parlophone (Toshiba-EMI TOCP-50354)
Producer Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead chronology
OK Computer
(1997)
No Surprises/Running from Demons
(1997)
Airbag/How Am I Driving?
(1998)

No Surprises/Running from Demons is the fourth extended play (EP) by English rock group 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".

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

Sales chart performance[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[7] 4
Irish Singles Chart 13[citation needed]
New Zealand Singles Chart 23[citation needed]
Australian Singles Chart 47[citation needed]
Dutch Singles Chart 58[citation needed]
Austrian Singles Chart 39

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, and Northern State. American singer song writer 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.

Regina Spektor version[edit]

"No Surprises"
Single by Regina Spektor
Released 27 April 2010 (2010-04-27)
Format Digital download
Length 3:51
Label Sire
Writer(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 charity single of the song on April 27, 2010.[8] All proceeds of the song go to the Doctors Without Borders Emergency Relief Fund.[9]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "No Surprises" – 3:51

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. ^ 150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years | NME.COM
  7. ^ Randall, 2000. pp. 242–43.
  8. ^ "No Surprises - Single by Regina Spektor - Download No Surprises - Single on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  9. ^ "http://reginasplash.warnerreprise.com/news/2010/04/25/regina-itunes-will-release-cover-radiohead-song-no-surprises". Reginasplash.warnerreprise.com. 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2011-02-28.  External link in |title= (help)

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]