Radiohead Lyrics

Karma Police

Karma police
arrest this man,
he talks in maths,
he buzzes like a fridge,
he’s like a detuned radio.

Karma police
arrest this girl,
her Hitler hairdo
is making me feel ill
and we have crashed her party.

This is what you get,
this is what you get,
this is what you get,
when you mess with us.

Karma police
I’ve given all I can,
it’s not enough,
I’ve given all I can
but we’re still on the payroll.

This is what you get,
this is what you get,
this is what you get,
when you mess with us.

For a minute there
I lost myself, I lost myself.
Phew, for a minute there,
I lost myself, I lost myself.

For a minute there
I lost myself, I lost myself.
Phew, for a minute there,
I lost myself, I lost myself.

SONG INFORMATION

Released: June 1997
Found on: OK Computer & Karma Police single. Fila Brazillia Club Remix found on 12″ single.

“It was a band catchphrase for a while on tour – whenever someone was behaving in a particularly shitty way, we’d say, ‘The karma police will catch up with him sooner or later,’” says Jonny. “It’s not a revenge thing, just about being happy with your own behaviour.” Thom laughs, “This is a song against bosses, fuck middle management!” “Karma Police” was debuted back in 1996 durning the Alanis Morissette tour. Thom sang the line “This is what you’ll get” an octave higher than he does on the album, with brilliant results. Ed was the one who originally suggested they do a song based on the catch-phrase. The song includes the line “He buzzes like a fridge/He’s like a detuned radio”, a reference to the distracting, metaphorical background noise Yorke calls “fridge buzz”. Yorke has said that the idea of fridge buzz is one of the primary themes of OK Computer; “Karma Police” also shares themes of insanity and dissatisfaction with capitalism.

“Karma Police” is in a 4/4 time signature and played in standard tuning. The first half of the song is in the key of A Dorian, the second half (starting with the line “For a minute there”) is in B minor. Acoustic guitar and piano are the most prominent instruments in the song, and the chord progression these instruments follow owes an audible debt to The Beatles song “Sexy Sadie”. The structure of the song is unconventional in that it has nothing resembling a typical chorus. Instead, the song progresses from the intro into a mid-tempo section which alternates between two verses. The first verse begins with the line “Karma police”, and the other begins with the line “This is what you get”. During the second section the drums drop out and an analog synthesizer imitating a choir is featured. After this section cycles through twice, the song switches into a second section which is based around the line “For a minute there, I lost myself”. During this section of the song, Yorke’s voice is put through an echo effect and a sliding melodic figure serves as a counterpoint to Yorke’s vocals. In the outro, Ed O’Brien plays a few notes on his guitar, which are distorted by overloading an AMS rackmount digital delay unit and turning the delay rate knob down.

The music video for the song was directed by Jonathan Glazer, previously responsible for Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” clip. The video premiered in August 1997 and featured Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke as well as Hungarian actor Lajos Kovács. Glazer won MTV’s Director of the Year award in 1997 for his work on this, as well as Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”. Glazer however revealed in an interview that he considers this video to be a failed attempt. According to MTV.com, Glazer had pitched the concept of the “Karma Police” video months earlier to Marilyn Manson, who disliked it.

The video starts with the camera, an unseen driver, looking at the empty back seat of a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker at night. The ‘driver’ then faces the windscreen and begins driving. For 35 seconds, it shows nothing but a road through grass illuminated by headlights, with insects visible around the windscreen. A figure is then seen running from the car. In time for the chorus the view shifts back to the back seat, where Thom Yorke now sits, almost mumbling his lyrics. The view yet again moves to the figure, who is close to being mown down, as the view again switches to Yorke, now slouching drowsily against the back of the front seat, barely lipsyncing any longer. The camera swivels again and the figure appears again, close this time. For the first time another perspective reveals the outside of the car. The pursued figure sharpens and is revealed to be a large man with a frightened look. As the car comes to a stop before him, the man raises his hands realising the car has a petrol leak he then puts them behind his back as if in resignation, then takes matches from his pocket, lights one, and throws it down. The perspective shifts to the car’s interior. The car suddenly reverses, away from the man, a path of fire now blazes back towards the car. The car slowly catches fire, and the camera/driver finally turns frantically to the back seat and robotically swivels back and forth, only to find that Yorke is no longer there.

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  • http://www.bnp.org.uk/ ljelly43@yahoo.co.uk

    nnn

  • http://www.bnp.org.uk/ ljelly43@yahoo.co.uk

    just learning to play this song, always loved it but couldn’t figure out the chords properly  becouse my piano was out of tune.  I always try not to play sad music, I think that there is enough sadness in the world already without adding to it, however this song and the lyrics are so profound, and the video explains the songs concept - retribution 

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