Sunday, June 26, 2011

Songs of My Lifetime: Radiohead "No Surprises" (1998)

No Surprises (1998)
Written By Radiohead

I was tempted to do a quick round up of new singles I've been listening to, but truth be told, I haven't really been listening to any. In fact I have been on a heavy Radiohead kick lately--listening to all their albums--from Pablo Honey to The King of Limbs and back again. I had a discernible appreciation for them before, but I am in love with them now. Whittle past the apparent layer of pretentiousness and there's so much to love and indulge in. In particular, I adore how their sound increasingly strays away from conventional rock and reflects an electronic lens on the genre--the transition highlighted between 1997's landmark OK Computer and its follow-up Kid A, mainly because the trend with many bands is to become increasingly mainstream and more accessible as they garner more success--Kings of Leon is a great example. However, it's the exact opposite here. In that alone, the ideas of rebellion and conformity scream pretty loud, they're also a lyrical focal point for the band.

The same focal point that fronts my favorite song from the band (at the moment). "No Surprises" the third single released from OK Computer early 1998, peaking at #4 in the UK, scoring the band their fourth top 5 hit. A slow burning ballad with gentle guitar strings over a prominent hush-hush lullaby-like melody, atmospheric soundscapes, brewing a fragile build up to its harmonious climax. Lyrically channelling the monotonous and routines of life ("A heart that's full up like a landfill, a job that slowly kills you"). The song's mellow semblance highlighting a distinctive sense of sensitivity in Thom Yorke's vocal. It's brilliant.

It's accompanying video is pretty interesting too. Thom Yorke's head in a glass dome, or an astronaut's helmet--showcasing his dis-contempt as it begins to fill with water. I'm sure it's a metaphor for something rather. The oppressive force that the comformity of life has over us, maybe? I've never been good at untaggling underlying messages anyway.

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