Radiohead Lyrics

No Surprises

A heart that’s full up like a landfill,
a job that slowly kills you,
bruises that won’t heal.
You look so tired-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,

with no alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises,
Silent silence.

This is my final fit,
my final bellyache,

with no alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises please.

Such a pretty house
and such a pretty garden.

No alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises,
no alarms and no surprises please.


he was sick of his clock stopping
wind it up, that girls stayed sleeping next to him

watch stops, the batteries run down
he started his broken sentence, “no alarms…”

the watch stops, the batteries run down,
he started his broken sentence,”no alarms and no surprises…”

he was sick of her excuses
to not take off her dress when bleedin’ in the bathroom

he was sick of his clock stopping, wind it up
no alarms an no surprises…
no alarms an no surprises…
no alarms an no surprises, please



Released: June 1997
Found on: OK Computer & No Surprises single

Thom introduced this song to his bandmates and the members of REM on the REM Monster Tour. It was 3 August 1995, in Oslo, Norway, and they were all gathered in a dressing room. The lyrics have been changed since then, but they originally told the story of a man who has become fed up with the way things are working out for him and is having problems with his girlfriend. Two lines from this version are, “He was sick of her excuses / To not take off her dress when bleedin’ in the bathroom.” Preparing to record the song, Thom altered those lyrics, but the meaning remains essentially the same. Aside from the fact that it features a glockenspiel, this track has a simplicity that proves Radiohead’s ability to create a basic song with straighforward lyrics and make it fit smoothly into an album as complex as OK Computer.

What’s amazing is that this song was actually recorded at a faster speed and then sped down when Thom put the vocal track on it.

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 the band, 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 even agitated with each take.


Here’s an early version of the song when it was called “No Surprises Please”

  • John Duclos

    This isn’t quite true. The video is one shot start to finish. Most of it is filmed at normal speed with the camera slaved to the mono playback via a pulse on other stereo track. During the solo, where helmet fills with water, the playback doubles in speed (so also the camera) thus Thom only has to hold his breath half as long. Still not a bundle of laughs for him, but manageable.
    I know this because I work for the company that supplied the camera equipment and personally devised this solution for the video.
    John Duclos – Arri Media