The video incorporates themes evident on Radiohead’s landmark LP, like the isolation of transportation and an apprehension of accelerating technology, as featured on songs like “Paranoid Android.” In “I Promise,” commuters are shown numbly staring out bus windows at night. Eventually, it’s revealed that one of the commuters is nothing more than an animatronic head propped up against the window, where it views and processes what it’s witnessing.
When the android attempts to drift off to sleep, memories and dreams of a crying woman stir it awake. In an unsettling conclusion, it causes the android to have an emotional response to his thoughts. The video ends with the robot head weeping on the bus seat.
Yorke told Rolling Stone in our new cover story that OK Computer was partly inspired by how the singer felt he was “living in orbit” while on the long tour in support of The Bends. “The paranoia I felt at the time was much more related to how people related to each other,” Yorke said.
“But I was using the terminology of technology to express it. Everything I was writing was actually a way of trying to reconnect with other human beings when you’re always in transit. That’s what I had to write about because that’s what was going on, which in itself instilled a kind of loneliness and disconnection.”