Battle of the Paranoid Androids

So, I was surfing YouTube with my 14-year old son, looking for a tutorial video for a Weezer song that he wanted to learn to play, I’m not a big Weezer fan, but I AM a big Radiohead fan, and as we were browsing we came across a clip of Weezer performing a cover of Radiohead’s 1997 song Paranoid Android.

Sorry if this offends any Weezer fans, but I was shocked by how good it was.

No, it’s not that I think that Radiohead is superior to Weezer by lightyears — superior, yes, but not by lightyears. It’s just that the bands are very much, to my ears, apples:oranges, and so Weezer covering Radiohead is very much unexpected (though I’ve read since that they’d previously covered Radiohead’s 1993 hit Creep in concert).

Anyway, it was a bold choice by Weezer, as Paranoid Android is a very complex song, a true suite, with sudden tempo changes and viruosic guitar and vocal parts, and they managed to pull it off.

Now, it could be argued, and has been by some, that…

Really, what’s the point? If they Weezerized the song, that’d maybe be worth hearing, but a note-for-note remake?

…and usually I’d agree.

Back in September 2011, in a post titled Battle Of The Pink Floyd Cover Song I embedded two covers of Pink Floyd‘s Breathe, one by The Shins, the other by The Flaming Lips, and I argued that the Lips version was the clear victor of the battle, for infusing the 35+-year old classic with a, pun intended, breath of fresh air via characteristically wacky Flaming Lips weirdness.

Still, it was fun to see Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, usually known for dry, unadorned vocals, meeting the demands of Thom Yorke’s broad range and more impressionistic style, and I also enjoyed that the band really seemed to enjoy themselves. It really is a heartfelt rendition that makes it clear that the Weezer guys are just as into Radiohead as I am.

And so, here are the two versions back-to-back, followed by yet one more bonus version, a solo jazz piano version by Brad Mehldau, well, just because.

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