Radiohead – Karma Police

Posted: September 16, 2007 in creativity

It’s music from an old album from one of my favourite groups: Thom Yorke’s ‘Karma Police’ from Radiohead’s 1997 spectacular ‘OK Computer’ album, and I just came across the video which brilliantly portrays the emotionally intense message of the song. One of the great classics! 

[from Allmusic: Haunting, mystifying, and exquisite, “Karma Police” was the third single from Radiohead’s 1997 masterwork OK Computer. Dense yet subtle layers of sound bolstered the acoustic guitar/piano-centered foundation of the song, culminating in a lush, swooning climax. The structure is somewhat unorthodox, since there doesn’t seem to be a true chorus section; the main verse alternates with a short, subdued break during which Thom Yorke repeats the line “this is what you get,” and after two cycles, the song builds to a completely different ending section. The melodies in the main body are a little more angular, but the finish is plaintive and soaring, without overpowering the delicate melancholy of all that preceded it. Yorke’s vocals are given a little extra echo here, and the bass begins to flex underneath as the orchestration builds; a heavily overdubbed sliding figure dominates instrumentally, providing Yorke with a dramatic counterpart. The lyrics are paranoid and inscrutable — during the verses, people are “arrested” by karma police for cryptic reasons, and a man protests that he’s given all he can, in between the “this is what you get…if you mess with us” section. The ending doesn’t make clear whether its only lyrics — “for a minute there, I lost myself” — are an expression of relief or hopelessness, but really, the emotion comes from the pure sound, not from any logical, concretely presented meanings. And that emotional intensity is evident throughout “Karma Police,” making it one of the cornerstones of one of the greatest albums of the ’90s.] 


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