Karma Police is a song written by Radiohead and included in their album Ok Computer.

Lyrics

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

Karma Police – Radiohead – Meaning

 

Johnny Greenwood says about this song:

It was a band catchphrase for a while on tour.

Whenever someone was behaving in a particular shitty way, we’d say, ‘The karma police will catch up with him sooner or later.’

You have to rely on something like that, even though we’re probably just kidding ourselves.

But it’s not a revenge thing, just about being happy with your own behaviour.

 

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

The karma is a sanskrit word for actions.

But is more generally used to intend the results of those actions.

The idea of karma is: if you perform an action, you get what you deserve.

Good or bad.

Action and reaction.

Tom Yorke here gives us the ideal existence of a police of karma.

He ask to the karmic police to arrest someone who deserves punishment.

Like the bigot, that irrationally gives unrequested judgments upon strange people who are useless.

Talking in maths, buzzing like fridges, and to be like a detuned radios, are ways to knowingly manipulate and interpret figures for his personal benefit.

The buzz of refrigerators that runs all the days and all the nights can be really annoying.

The same is for a radio that is not perfectly tuned on a defined radio station.

That type of noise that enter inside your head.

Thom talks about a person who talks constantly like a fridge.

But his words are  as important as a  radio signal with static noise.

 

 Karma police, arrest this girl Her Hitler hairdo is Making me feel ill And we have crashed her party 

Here the core of the meaning of this song is more clear and shows a different layer that we can use to interpret this song.

The song in general, is about how people are punished for being individuals.

And for not following society’s rules.

For doing something that is  condemned as bad by the society, they will receive karma forcefully by his policy.

So. The Karma Police are good or evil?

I think that the karma police and the point of view of the narrator is from the evil side.

The people of the first two verses don’t deserving any real punishment.

The truth is that the narrator is calling on the Karma Police to enforce conformity on these two people.

Who don’t fit in the normal way to behave.

 

 This is what you get This is what you get This is what you get when you mess with us 

The karma police come when the narrator (or the policy) crashed the party of the girl with the nazi-hair.

And everything happens, seems justified by the way those people act.

And  for this actions, they receive the right consequences.

This feelings of revenge and scorn are the core of the song.

But this point of view seems only a way to make light on the acceptance that people have towards persons with different way to act, and way to think.

 

 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 

Thom Yorke explains this words in this way:

It’s for someone who has to work for a large company. This is a song against bosses. Fuck the middle management!

The narrator is desperately asking for the credit for the good things he does.

Because you can work really hard for something that is important for you.

And no matter what.

Simply it’s not enough and you don’t get what you want.

But escape from this situation is hard.

Because you get something back from your job.

The payroll, that made you stick with your job, because inside your mind you have the deep fear that you don’t know what else to do.

 

 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 

Everyone is affected by Karma.

And Thom reminds himself that he, too, is not immune to Karma.

He shouldn’t gives negative emotions to the universe.

They might can come back to get him.

He realized that judging people about their personality is an action that is deserving of bad karma itself.

This explains why he was still on the karma polices payroll earlier.

 

Maybe the narrator cans represents a group of people too.

The modern society could be that group.

The song is about how our society judges people on little and non-significant things.

Such as their physical appearance and their personality.

Society wishes that these people have negative consequences placed on them.

But near the end of the song, the society themselves realized that they are the real thing that they were complaining about.

They are the people  who have the personality defects, which is why they were to receive bad karma.

The message overall of the entire song, is that when you judging people for small things such as personality differences, it is yourself who is the one who deserves of negative consequences.

 

 

Conclusion

Another great song realized by Radiohead. Different layers of different meanings. Another piece for the heaven of music.

Leave a comment or a different vision of the meaning of this song if you want.

 

 

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