Paranoia is a feeling of distrust or fear often characterized by secretive behavior, thought projection, and hypervigilance. It’s a powerful and uncomfortable feeling. Many songs about paranoia have been released and here are the most popular ones.
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“Paranoid Android” – Radiohead
“Paranoid Android” is one of the most iconic songs about paranoia on this list. It was written by Thom Yorke, guitarist of Radiohead and released as part of the band’s third studio album, OK Computer (1997). The track has been described as having a nightmare-like quality that’s surreal and unsettling.
The song begins with the repeated lyric, “Hello, I’m here.” It has six movements: “Planet Telex,” “Climbing Up the Walls,” “No Surprises,” “Karma Police,” “Fitter Happier,” and “Electioneering. This song describes the irrational thought patterns that give rise to paranoia and what it feels like to be caught up in them.
“Paranoid” – Kanye West
“Paranoid” is a hip-hop song from the 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West. The song was produced by Rick Rubin and co-produced by West himself. “Paranoid” is a musically aggressive track with a loud chorus that builds up to West spitting: “My therapist said it’s agoraphobia / That’s why I stay at home and write songs.” On this track, “Paranoid,” the rapper describes his feeling of being watched or followed by various entities, from the CIA to aliens from outer space.
“Paranoid” – French Montana
French Montana’s “Paranoid” is a song that hits directly at the heart of what paranoia feels like. The beat, produced by Cool & Dre and Cubeatz, is almost cartoonishly frantic and paranoid itself, while the lyrics are equally bleak. Montana’s voice rides the track with a level of stress that could only be found in genuine paranoia.
French Montana’s “Paranoid” was the perfect song for those living in a world with so much anxiety and paranoia that it feels like it would spread to everyone if you don’t watch out.
“Paranoid” – Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid” is easily one of the most stylish and well-produced songs about paranoia. The song features a solid vocal performance from Trey Songz and some mic-dropping verses from Ty Dolla $ign.
This song is thought-provoking and uplifting by telling a story of a man who has spent time in prison, though it is unclear what his crime was.
The narrator begins with the line, “I’m just tryna find a better way to get up and stay there”--suggesting that he’s trying to find some meaning in his life but has hit a few bumps along the way.
“Paranoiac Personality” – Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper’s song “Paranoiac Personality” is a rock classic that describes the feeling of paranoia so many times better than words can. From his album Welcome 2 My Nightmare (released in 2011), the song takes you on a journey through Cooper’s mental state.
This song isn’t about a specific feeling or person, but rather many. It’s about the feeling of being watched and feared by others. The song also reflects other paranoid emotions like extreme anxiety, distrust in others, and isolation.
“Paranoid” – Post Malone
Post Malone’s “Paranoid” is one of the original songs about paranoia. The song comes from his 2016 album, Stoney. It was also featured in an episode of the American sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine and an episode of The Simpsons.
Post Malone’s song “Paranoid” reminds you that your paranoia may be well-founded, but it helps to have someone in your corner who can support you.
The song mentions how he’s “ready for warfare, ready for [his] karma” and feels like somebody else’s problem child, but he knows it’s not his fault because he doesn’t trust anyone now.
He also includes all the bad things that he thinks may happen to him and wishes the world was different so he wouldn’t lose his mind—but until then, only one person can help.
“Paranoia” – Dave East
“Paranoia” is the second single from Dave East’s debut album, “Kairi Chanel.” The song was released on March 31, 2018, and was produced by Hitmaka, LeekeLeek, and Adam Meakim for Heralds of Culture Productions. “Paranoia” by Dave East is a song about the fear of being judged or ridiculed by people around them.
The theme uses a classic drum set-up with heavy hi-hat use and gives it that classic feel with 808s for extra flavor, making it easier to sing along to.
The song puts listeners inside the mind of a character who struggles with anxiety and fear, telling of the ways that these emotions eat away at him.
“Paranoid” – Jonas Brothers
Paranoid is a Jonas Brothers’ song released as a digital download on May 1, 2008, by Hollywood Records. The song is the lead single from the band’s third studio album, A Little Bit Longer. For those who suffer from paranoia, “Paranoid” by Jonas Brothers offers a sense of hope and comfort. The lyrics in the song describe someone who feels they are being followed or watched but assure them that they are fine and everything will be okay.
“Love / Paranoia” – Tame Impala
The outfit’s song “Love / Paranoia” is a track off the band’s 2010 EP of the same name. From start to finish, “Love / Paranoia” involves plenty of flashy guitar work, some mind-bending synths and an incredibly danceable beat.
While the lyrics are somewhat open to interpretation, it sounds like Tame Impala’s “Love / Paranoia” is about a man who has fallen for a girl after a couple of dates, only to have her disappear from his life without explanation.
It may or may not be true paranoia, but it doesn’t stop him from imagining what it would be like to track her down and confront her about her disappearance.
“Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
It was released in 1970 and is one of the best songs about paranoia. The song critiqued society and what others thought of them, not just due to their appearance but also their music. When people hear this song, they think of conspiracy theories and the turmoil that the band had gone through at the time. It’s a tale of fear, distrust and depression that all fans love to sing along to.
“Who Can It Be Now?” – Men at Work
Of all the 80s songs about paranoia (and there were a lot), Men at Work’s first hit might be the most famous. It captured that feeling we’ve all had when an unexpected knock on the door cuts through the evening’s goings-on: “who is that?” “what’s wrong now?” or “who’s died?”
The video was one of MTV’s first in heavy rotation, and it depicted a man, home alone, in the throes of paranoia that gave the whole video a claustrophobic vibe. It suited the song well.
“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
Rockwell’s top-5 1984 hit featured Michael and Jermaine Jackson on backing vocals, and Rockwell himself would be forgiven for thinking paranoid thoughts about whether the song was a hit because of him or because of the king of pop.
The paranoid narrator tells about how he’s afraid to wash his hair— he’d have to close his eyes at some point during the process, and who might be standing there when he opens them?
Rockwell wrote the song, and as the nation became gripped by a paranoia spurred by the fact that it was 1984 and no one wanted to live in the kind of world described in George Orwell’s novel 1984, “Somebody’s Watching Me” captured the spirit of a world yet to come.
Now that we have cameras everywhere, the song seems prescient.
“I’m Afraid of Americans” – David Bowie
Bowie weaves a tale of the aggressiveness of commercialization in “I’m Afraid of Americans,” singing about Johnny, an Everyman American who wants a Coke and some guns.
The creeping nature of capitalism gets sent up in this song, and in the video, Bowie spends the whole time running from a menacing stranger we later learn is Johnny, played by Trent Reznor.
The industrial-music vibe, coupled with guitarist Reeves Gabrels’ oppressively fuzzy sound gives the song a foreboding feel as if all the bad parts of capitalism were looming just behind the listener’s back.
“Life During Wartime” – Talking Heads
The protagonist of this 1979 Talking Heads piece is a sort of terrorist or warrior of civil unrest. It tells of a man living in a dystopian future who mounts a campaign against the oppressors.
The unsettling thing about the song, though, is how close the reality of the lead character mirrors our own. There is unrest, there are food shortages, and there is income inequality in the world.
Just because the protagonist is paranoid— changing his appearance to throw off anyone who might be after him— doesn’t mean he’s wrong about the world being against him.
“Private Idaho” – The B-52s
Fred Schneider, frontman for the B-52s, told an Idaho Statesman reporter in 2011 that “Private Idaho” was not a send-up, indictment, or satire of the state. In the same breath, though, he mentioned what many of us stereotypically associate with Idaho— militias.
These armed groups seem to have paranoia as a founding principle, so to invoke them in a dark song about paranoia fits. The idea is that Idaho represents a paranoid state of mind, so when Schneider shouts, “Get out of that state,” he’s urging people to come back to reality, not leave Boise.
“Foolin’” – Def Leppard
The main character in “Foolin’” has lost the ability to tell what’s real and what isn’t as he suffers from the throes of torment over a woman. This 1983 track from Pyromania made it to the Top Ten, and its video— complete with intimations of torture and lead singer Joe Elliot held against his will— was dark.
The recurring lyric about how the protagonist isn’t fooling himself embodies what a true paranoid must believe about himself. Def Leppard gave us one of the great songs about being paranoid in a relationship.
“Paranoid” – Juice WRLD
The late emo-rap star croons and raps about how he believes a woman is plotting against him. The irony in the song’s title and lyrics is that he’s accusing an unnamed woman of making him paranoid, itself a paranoid delusion.
Judging from the song’s content, the woman isn’t trying to make him paranoid and probably hasn’t given him a second thought since she walked away.
“Gas Panic” – Oasis
The realization that your enemies know your name is scary, even if it’s only true in your head. As Noel Gallagher, guitarist and occasional vocalist for the band wrote the song during a period in which his drug and alcohol addictions were causing panic attacks.
In his delusion, the main character fears that someone or something has come through his window and waits. Scary, even if it’s not real.
“Dream Police” – Cheap Trick
Even though “Dream Police” has a tongue-in-cheek feel, it’s still about a man delusional enough to believe that a specific police force monitors his dreams inside his head.
The song’s subject matter was markedly different from that of the previous single, “I Want You To Want Me,” but that didn’t bother fans. It peaked at 26 on the Billboard charts, and the video spent a long while in heavy rotation on MTV even though it was released two years before the music network went on the air.
“Afraid of Everyone” – The National
While there are forces of evil out there, they’re not always coming directly from us individually. The National’s “Afraid of Everyone” is about someone who doesn’t understand that.
On the list of songs about being suspicious of someone, “Afraid of Everyone” clocks in as being afraid of, well, everyone.
The first-person narration speaks of trying to protect the protagonist’s family from nameless perils. He specifies that he doesn’t have the right drugs to be able to deal with the world in which he finds himself.
That the song ends with a repetitive phrase about how yellow voices are coming for the man’s soul tells us most of what we need to know about the reality of his mental state.
“20th Century Man” – The Kinks
The 20-century man in the title calls himself that ironically. He’s watching progress and machines impinge on the world he knows and believes the modern world is coming for him and his way of life.
He locks himself away from the world in hopes of avoiding bureaucrats, cops, and anyone else he thinks is actively working to rob him of the way of life he wants to have.
Paranoia is a powerful emotion that can drive us towards our goals or push us into a state of mind that isn’t healthy. Hopefully, by listening to music with paranoid undertones, we can harness this powerful emotion positively and constructively.