Radiohead Knowledge Base
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Radiohead Knowledge Base

No Surprises is the tenth song from Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer. It was accompanied by a music video that featured a single shot of Thom Yorke's head in a plastic bubble filling with water. The single peaked at number four in the United Kingdom. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 107 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".

It was featured in the episode "Broken" of the television series House when Dr. House was in rehab, in an episode of The Royle Family in a memorable scene where Denise and Dave are playing it and humming it to put their baby David to sleep, and in the Daria episode "Ill" where Daria is in the hospital and has a dream about going to heaven

History and Recording

Radiohead wrote No Surprises while touring with the band R.E.M. in 1995. No Surprises was the first song Radiohead recorded on the first day of recording sessions for OK Computer. The version of the song on the album is the first take recorded. Thom Yorke commented:

"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]."

Music Video

Radiohead_-_No_Surprises

Radiohead - No Surprises

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. One of the scenes in Gee's documentary about RadioheadMeeting 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 even agitated with each take.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
A heart that's full up like a landfill
A job that slowly kills you
Bruises that won't heal
You look so tired and unhappy
Bring down the government
They don't, they don't speak for us
I'll take a quiet life
A handshake of carbon monoxide

[Chorus]
And no alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
Silent, silent

[Verse 2]
This is my final fit
My final bellyache with

[Chorus]
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises, please

[Verse 3]
Such a pretty house
And such a pretty garden

[Chorus]
No alarms and no surprises
(Let me out of here)
No alarms and no surprises
(Let me out of here)
No alarms and no surprises, please
(Let me out of here)
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