Karma Police is the second single from Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer. It is Radiohead's most successful song worldwide, apart from Creep. The song is perhaps best recognized for its piano riff, and for its dark bass line.
Karma Police, like several other songs that would make up OK Computer, was debuted live in 1996, when the band briefly supported Alanis Morissette on an American tour. A live version of Karma Police, performed with a Rhodes piano on The Late Show with David Letterman, is captured in the Radiohead documentary Meeting People Is Easy. Today the song is usually an audience singalong when performed at live concerts, often as an encore.
Radiohead members used to tell one another that they would call "the karma police" on them if they did something wrong. The joke was incorporated as the title of the song. Thom Yorke explained the idea of the lyrics to The Independent in 2006, saying, "It's for someone who has to work for a large company. This is a song against bosses. Fuck the middle management!" He also said it was about those who are judgmental. The sound at the end of the song was created by Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien by "feeding sound through a digital delay machine".
The song was covered in 2003 by Christopher O'Riley on his first Radiohead tribute album True Love Waits: Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead. The song has also been covered by Panic at the Disco, The Dresden Dolls and Tori Amos. The song is also covered on the album Radiodread by the Easy Star All-Stars, sung by Citizen Cope.
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