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Welcome back to Flashback Friday, in which I dig into MTV’s massive archives to bring you great videos from the past. I don’t know if it’s today’s grey sky or the fact that this humidity has me feeling ready to jump out of my skin, but I’ve been listening to my old Radiohead records all morning, and they are still so, so good. Nobody expresses itchy postmodern angst quite like that band of British geniuses. So let’s set the time machine to 1997 and check out the award-winning video for “Karma Police.”
Following the international success of their 1992 single “Creep,” many thought Radiohead might be a one-hit wonder. Although it did well with critics and at home in the U.K., their 1995 sophomore effort The Bends only peaked at #88 on the U.S. rock charts. However, their 1997’s OK Computer solidified their place in pop culture and music history.
Aided by its minimal, disturbing video, “Karma Police” quickly became a huge hit in the U.S., peaking at #14. (This was a particularly impressive accomplishment at a time when late-nineties “nu metal” acts like Limp Bizkit were ruling the charts.) Directed by Jonathan Glazer (who also directed that year’s popular video for Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”), the clip reflected Radiohead’s running fascination with, and fear of, totalitarian government. Textured guitars, electronic effects, and Thom Yorke’s haunting vocals combined to create a compelling sound that was both a continuation of the nineties alt-rock tradition and a progression into the new millennium. As you may know, the band hasn’t stopped progressing since, with eight awesome studio albums to date (and counting!).
Watch the video for “Karma Police” below, and rock out to the sound of your own malaise.