On an album loaded with downtrodden songs filtered through Autotune and Austin Powers references, “Paranoid” stood out instantly as something special, cultural boogeyman Kanye West making an absolutely stunning synth-pop song with a little help from Mr. Hudson come chorus time. On 808s And Heartbreak it kicked off the album’s strongest run, leading into the Disney-bombast of “Robocop” and the glitchy ennui of “Street Lights.” A few years later and a return to super-positive Kanye in 2010, and “Paranoid” has only gotten better over time, in this writer’s opinion ending up an unhailed contender for a top-five Kanye jam. It’s Mr. West at his most catchy, and a personal favorite of mine.
Which is why I’m not sure how to write about Japanese-band-residing-in-New-York The Suzan’s cover of it. You can listen to it over at The Fader. It’s definitely different, and deserves some praise for transforming the original’s keyboard orgy into a minimalist bit of beatnick poetry. And the lead Suzan can definitely sing. Still though, “Paranoid” ended up a piece of pure excellence because it was excitedly energetic…something missing at times from the rest of 808s And Heartbreak…something The Suzan’s version lacks completely. Which is what I’m pretty sure they are going for, but why would I listen to this “Paranoid” as anything more than a clever little novelty? Maybe I’m just a little Kanye-obsessed but all The Suzan’s cover does is make me pine for Mr. Hudson’s velvety chorus.
The Suzan aren’t just a Kanye cover band though…they’ve got plenty of great original songs over at their MySpace that you should listen to. They’ve also got a new album in the pipeline, Golden Week For The Poco Poco Beat, out on October 26. More on that later.
Kanye West’s “Paranoid.”