Monday, May 26, 1997

Radiohead “Paranoid Android” released

Paranoid Android


Writer(s):Radiohead (see lyrics here)

Released: May 26, 1997

Peak: 3 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 22.8 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“If you had to play somebody one Radiohead song to convince them of the band's brilliance, it should probably be ‘Paranoid Android.’” RS’11 This is “their first truly original artistic statement” RB and “very possibly the best rock song of the millennium, the last few decades and maybe even ever.” PS’16 “They distilled everything that makes them great, the energy, the beauty, the experimentation, the abrasiveness, the gentleness, the fearlessness, the fears, the transcendence of those fears, the songwriting, the musicianship, the uniqueness, the utter, unadulterated brilliance, the whole ball of wax, into one crazy, untamable beast of a song.” AS “Nothing about ‘Paranoid Android’… makes sense: The chords don’t go together. The sections feel jumbled. There’s no clear narrative. The melodies are too strange. The choir sounds cut off. The song’s too long! But these are also reasons why it's one of Radiohead's best songs.” RB

This is “a towering pop mutation” RB “clocking in at a tortured, schizophrenic 6-and-a-half minutes.” BZ It is “as tricky and complex as anything found in ‘70s prog,” DF “a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the nineties.” AD It also “draws comparisons to The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’” RV and its three stitched-together parts from other songs was inspired by the Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” RS’11 “tethered…by a pleading urgency in which Yorke lashes out at his unnamed opposition in between distorted guitar screeches and dead-eyed harmonies.” BB Guitarist Ed O’Brien described the song as “Queen meets the Pixes.” RG The initial version was “a 14-minute sprawler that included organ” CS which producer Nigel Godrich said delved into “Deep Purple territory” RG while Yorke jokingly described the song as a “Pink Floyd cover.” FT

“The comparisons to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ were inevitable, but whereas Queen’s song suite bursts with melodic joy, the moody “Paranoid Android” is full of anxiety and lacks any obvious hooks.” BB “There’s absolutely no interest in coddling listeners or adhering to trends” SA and when Radiohead released it as the album’s first single, they refused to cut it down for radio. RS’11 It is “a lumbering Frankenstein’s monster of sludgy prog-rock and stuttery electronica” SA which “incorporates several different styles into a single bombastic symphony of dread.” RV

The epic is packed with “alternating time signatures, wild dynamic shifts, drama and adrenaline to spare.” VH1 “This dizzying suite begins as a creepy lullaby” EX and then “combusts with speaker-blown alt-rock,” EX “morphing and rocketing around like a firework with a broken fuse.” CS“Just when you think you’ve had enough, it slows back down” SP to “the Gregorian-chant pace working subtle magic on our defenses that have already been battered by the first two parts,” AS “before finally being sucked down into hell with a squalling guitar freakout.” EX “Greenwood gives you every reason to practice your air guitar, where everything sounds as if it’s burning down.” CS

It is long enough that one of its “three sections…even has its own sub-section. There’s a terrific, jazzy 7/8 part with electric piano and deep-grooving bass; there’s a hefty dose of blistering rock (with two guitar solos); and there’s a truly awesome vocal harmony sequence reminiscent of a load of monks chanting a particularly intense extract from David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’” QM

“Yorke delivers some of his best singing here, pleading for redemption from on high only to be rebuffed by another version of himself snapping him back to reality.” AS Listening to the song is about spending time “with either a manic-depressive or a brief thunderstorm.” SP Yorke wrote it after encountering a woman at a bar who turned violent when someone spilled a drink on her. BZ He said it was about “the fall of the Roman Empire, but good luck finding anything in the lyrics that seem related to that topic in any way.” RS’11 The title refers to Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, CS but that also seems to have nothing to do with the song. “As unhinged as the lyrics…may seem, there is a consistent thread of dread running through them, the feeling that all of these seemingly unreal acts of tyranny and fascism are committed on a smaller scale every single day.” AS

The video “interestingly seems to reflect the sound as heard.” DG-54 “The adventures of the cartoon protagonists seem to match the music.” DG-54


Related Links:

First posted 6/9/2022.

Saturday, May 24, 1997

Hanson “Mmmbop” hit #1



Writer(s): Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, Zac Hanson (see lyrics here)

Released: April 15, 1997

First Charted: March 28, 1997

Peak: 14 US, 19 RR, 21 AC, 5 A40, 13 UK, 13 CN, 19 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.5 US, 0.76 UK, 3.04 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 150.02 video, 107.6 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Mmmbop” followed closely on the heels of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” another “deliriously catchy” SG gem of “bubblegum gibberish” SG which “fed a growing demand for bright, clean, euphorically energetic down-the-middle pop music.” SG It sounds “like cotton candy, or like the feeling of jumping into the pool on a hot day. It sounds like summer.” SG

The Hanson brothers were all born in the ‘80s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dad was an accountant who turned the kids on to doo-wop, the Beach Boys, and the Jackson 5. Mom was a homemaker who homeschooled them. They started making music when the oldest (Isaac) was 11 and the youngest (Zac) was 6. While they all played piano initially, Isaac moved to guitar and Zac to drums. They started playing events and self-released two albums. Christopher Sabec, lawyer for the Dave Matthews Band, saw them play at the SXSW festival in Austin and signed on as their manager.

After fourteen labels turned them down, Steve Greenberg from Mercury signed them. He thought the original version of “Mmmbop” was “amazing…But I was totally skeptical. I thought some adult was manipulating it. There must be adults playing the instruments, or adults must have written the song, and I bet that in real life the kids couldn’t sing that well. I wasn’t going to pursue it but the song stayed in my head.” FB He went to see them live and was astonished that it was really all them singing and playing the instruments. He told them on the spot “I want to make a record with you.” FB

That original version came out on their 1994 album Boomerang. It was slower and more cluttered, but “already hellaciously catchy.” SG They borrowed the title from the scatline ending of one of their other songs. FB As the brothers would get ready for bed, they’d sing it together in the bathroom. SG Greenberg matched the Hanson brothers with the Dust Brothers, who’d worked on the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay. They only spent two days with Hanson, but it was enough for them to speed up “Mmmbop” and make it much funkier.

The part of “MMMBop” that everyone remembers is that sticky, ecstatic nonsense chorus.” SG However, the lyrics offer astonishing wise advice from such young writers, such as “You have so many relationships in this life/ Only one or two will last.” “it’s a song about realizing that you can’t plan out your life and that you have to hold onto the friendships that matter.” SG When the song got a Grammy nomination, it made 12-year-old Zac the youngest songwriter ever nominated.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Hanson
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 855.
  • SG Stereogum (5/6/2022). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/19/2022.

Friday, May 23, 1997

Two Versions of “How Do I Live” Hit Radio

How Do I Live

LeAnn Rimes

Writer(s): Diane Warren (see lyrics here)

Released: May 23, 1997

First Charted: June 21, 1997

Peak: 2 US, 4 RR, 111 AC, 10 A40, 43 CW, 7 UK, 19 CN, 17 AU, 13 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.7 US, 0.83 UK, 4.53 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 58.14 video, 157.09 streaming

How Do I Live

Trisha Yearwood

Released: May 23, 1997

First Charted: June 7, 1997

Peak: 23 US, 2 CW, 66 UK, 28 CN, 3 AU, 28 DW (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.14 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 58.14 video, 26.98 streaming

Awards (Rimes):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Diane Warren wrote “How Do I Live” for the film Con Air. She ran into LeAnn Rimes at a restaurant shortly after Rimes won the Grammy for Best New Artist. She told Rimes she wrote “How Do I Live” specifically with her in mind. Rimes recorded it the next day, but the movie company thought the song had too much of a pop sound and that Rimes, only 14 at the time, was too young for the song’s subject matter. They asked Trisha Yearwood to re-record the song. She did, saying she was unaware that Rimes had already recorded it.

Yearwood’s version had a “more throaty, country-western vibe” WK and was the one which appeared in the film, although neither appeared on the soundtrack. Rimes’ label was reluctant to release her version, but Warren personally called the label head and urged them to release it, a move which angered everyone involved until the song blew up. SF Billboard’s Larry Flick said Yearwood had “the depth and intensity to convey the love and longing in the lyric” WK while Rimes gave the song “a youthful exuberance and wide-eyed innocence that will melt even the coldest heart.” WK

The two versions were released to radio on the same day. Yearwood’s version did far better on the country charts (#2 compared to Rimes’ #43 peak), but Rimes had the much greater success overall. Her version peaked at #2 for five non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 behind Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” juggernaut and Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply.”

Rimes’ version of “How Do I Live” would set a record for 69 weeks on the chart. It would hold up for more than a decade before being surpassed by Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” It also set the record for 25 consecutive weeks in the top 5, a record held for 19 years. THe Chainsmokers’ “Closer” broke the record in 2017. It spent a record 32 consecutive weeks in the top 10, a record broken by Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” in 2017. It was also the highest-selling country single until Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” 12 years later. In 2014, Billboard magazine rated “How Do I Live” as the #1 song of the 1990s. It currently ranks at #6 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.


First posted 10/14/2022.

Puff Daddy released “I’ll Be Missing You,” his memorial to Notorious B.I.G.

I’ll Me Missing You

Puff Daddy with Faith Evans & 112

Writer(s): Sting, Faith Evans, Todd Gaither, Albert E. Brumley (see lyrics here)

Released: May 23, 1997

First Charted: June 14, 1997

Peak: 111 US, 12 GR, 13 RR, 18 RB, 16 UK, 4 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.1 US, 2.0 UK, 8.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.3 radio, 92.5 video, 460.68 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

On March 9, 1997, rapper Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down. He was only 24 years old. His 1994 album Ready to Die had made him a superstar. His 1997 album Life After Death, released just two weeks after his death, immortalized him.

Devastated over the loss of his best friend, rapper Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs wrote a tribute around samples of The Police’s 1983 #1 hit “Every Breath You Take.” Combs tapped singer Faith Evans, B.I.G.’s widow, to sing the song with him alongside R&B group 112. The song made its chart debut on June 14, 1997. It was huge from the onset. According to the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles, it was the first to debut at #1 in both the United States and England. DR It was only the fifth song in history to debut atop the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. (See full list here).

“I’ll Be Missing You” also claimed the title of biggest selling rap song of all-time. DR Only Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” has logged more time on top (although pop-meets-rap group Black Eyed Peas went to #1 for 12 weeks with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Got a Feeling” hit the summit for 14 weeks).

1997 was a mixed blessing for Combs. Even as he mourned his friend, he capped one of the most successful years in pop history. His song “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” topped the chart for 6 weeks right after B.I.G.’s death. It was replaced by B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” a song which Combs helped write and produce, for three weeks. A three-week stint by Hanson’s “Mmmbop” interrupted the Combs/B.I.G. stranglehold briefly – then “I’ll Be Missing You” began its chart run. It was supplanted by “Mo Money Mo Problems,” another B.I.G. hit with Combs featured as a writer and producer. All told, Combs spent 22 weeks on top of the Hot 100 chart in 1997 as a writer, producer, and/or performer.

In April 2023, Combs joked that he had to pay Sting $5000 a day for using the sample of “Every Breath You Take” in “I’ll Be Missing You.” He posted the tweet suggesting the hefty sum after a 2018 interview with Sting resurfaced in which he said the rapper had to pay him 100% of the royalties because he didn’t get permission to sample the song, although he has since secured the rights. BB Had he secured the rights in the first place, he likely would only have to give Sting about 25% of the publishing royalties. CN estimates that “Every Breath You Take” has generated $120 million in royalties for Sting. CN


First posted 6/14/2011; last updated 6/18/2023.