Karma Chameleons
April 24, 2013 9:14 AM   Subscribe

There have been lots of great covers of Radiohead's Karma Police, but this one that just dropped may be the best you'll ever hear. The amazing video is thanks to a successful kickstarter campaign.
posted by ericbop (63 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
ericbop; our opinions of what define a great cover differ a great deal; huzzah!
posted by NiteMayr at 9:25 AM on April 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


I enjoyed that far more than I thought I would. Lovely. Thanks.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:27 AM on April 24, 2013


I like it when bands really own a cover. This group owned it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:34 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tre Lux (the remnants of Switchblade Symphony) has a rather nice cover of "Karma Police."
posted by adipocere at 9:52 AM on April 24, 2013


Too embarrassed to finish listening to this. Seconding the huzzah.
posted by gum at 9:53 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Comment removed, please can we not turn a "here's a nice song" post into a "Israel sucks" debate.]
posted by cortex at 9:53 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


It... didn't work for me. It sounded like a song being covered by someone who really doesn't get the song, but knows how to sing in a certain way and is damned well going to sing that way.

Probably just me.
posted by Decani at 10:03 AM on April 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


"made with great respect and no intentions claming copyrights"
posted by Nelson at 10:04 AM on April 24, 2013


I played drums in a band that covered "Karma Police" in our late-90's post hardcore/indie-rock stylings (we basically wanted to be on DeSoto records 5-10 years too late). Lucky for you all, this was pre-youtube.

Also: here's a bunch of MeFi users covering Karma Police and other tracks from OK Computer!
posted by onehalfjunco at 10:05 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


ugh.
posted by anewnadir at 10:06 AM on April 24, 2013


Decani, I found it physically painful to listen to, so there's that.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:07 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, add me to the didn't work for me. Being mostly musically illiterate, I couldn't tell you if it's her voice, the style used, or what.
posted by Iosephus at 10:11 AM on April 24, 2013


Loved it. Awesome voice, excellent musicians, fierce drag!
posted by ottereroticist at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would by 100 albums of covers done in this style.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:19 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think most Radiohead songs should be covered on lute.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:19 AM on April 24, 2013


A lot of the power in Karma Police is how Thom Yorke conveys emotion through his style of understated singing. I'm with Decani; it looks like she completely missed the point. She sang with straightforward enunciation and no subtlety.

The music itself is interesting, though. I hope someone takes that idea farther, or somewhere else. (Though to be fair, I'd bet someone already has.)
posted by myelin sheath at 10:22 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I honestly didn't much care for the first two covers referenced, but the final rendition is awesome! I like the fact that it is so familiar, yet its own entity. I've not too much love for Radiohead, so it doesn't offend my sense of purity. For me, it's wonderfully odd.

Not that music in general lends itself to accurate critique outside of subjective taste and such, but thank you for this.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2013


Needs more St. Vincent.
posted by Infinity_8 at 10:33 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love the fact that the woman pronounces "Karma" the way it is supposed to be pronounced (FINALLY!) But yes, she seems to miss all the subtlety of the original.

If great covers are what you're looking for, sit back and have your face melted by this rendition of 'Born to Run' (SLYT Diarrhea Planet with Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus)
posted by mysticreferee at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't not like this, but -- can someone explain to me what the deal is? I would like to appreciate it more.

People are hinting at some kind of political meaning? What's that? Or really any other flavor of explanation would help too.

It's hard to cover Radiohead without losing the magic of the band's treatments. I have complained about this before.
posted by grobstein at 10:49 AM on April 24, 2013


i really enjoyed it and would totally listen to an album of covers by them. i think it's weird people are saying she missed the point instead of considering that she was making a different point. i mean, johnny cash didn't miss the point of the raw anger in NIN's hurt, he (and rick rubin) just saw something different.
posted by nadawi at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


I was all meh until the last third of the song, where they basically drop into a very interesting, menacing place. Anyone expecting it to be much like the original is kind of missing the point, IMO.
posted by swift at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like it when bands really own a cover. This group owned it.

Like when the dog licks your ice cream cone.
posted by Mayor West at 11:07 AM on April 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think most Radiohead songs should be covered on lute.

Last year when we were doing the aforementioned OK Computer challenge over on MeFiMu I started putting together a renaissance cover of Electioneering. It's pretty hard to pull off well and I abandoned it for those reasons.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:08 AM on April 24, 2013


This is gorgeous. Thank you!
posted by kellylink at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2013


I listened to it without the video. I agree it's something different. It seems though that they could have chosen any Radiohead song and it would have been no better or worse.

In my opinion the best is Toots and the Maytals' cover of Let Down.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:25 AM on April 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well this is all right but just so you know, The Bad Plus did the best cover of Karma Police of all time.
posted by jeffj at 11:33 AM on April 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think this cover of Kid A into Wayside by the Punch Brothers is worthy of attention, but I am not unbiased.
posted by gilrain at 11:46 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I forgot, they also did Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box.
posted by gilrain at 11:52 AM on April 24, 2013


Very, very difficult song to cover. I didn't like it much either, fwiw.

I think Ke$ha covered it best.

Actually, what am I saying?! The best cover of any Radiohead song is always in Rodeohead.

I am totally biased, but stuff like these covers just show how uniquely Radiohead Radiohead's music is. Cee-Lo's Reckoner cover is fantastic, but check the original. Too, too good.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:55 AM on April 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


... and speaking of the Punch Brothers ...

a very lovely cover of Tourist vs. the original. Can't beat Radiohead.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


For sure, can't beat Radiohead at their own game. The homages are fun if you're very familiar with their sources, though.
posted by gilrain at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2013


First, as mentioned above, the Cee-Lo version of Reckoner is the best Radiohead cover of all time. Second, also mentioned above, a little background/insight into the the band/vocalist/political statements of the video would be great.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:04 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best cover of any Radiohead song is always in Rodeohead .

I don't hate him like a lot of people do, but honestly I think Hard n Phirm is still the best thing Chris Hardwick's ever been involved in.
posted by kmz at 12:09 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I skimmed this post too quickly and was expecting a cover of Karma Chameleon. Was really confused.
posted by jnnla at 12:15 PM on April 24, 2013


according to the kickstarter and youtube pages, this was a silly cover idea that grew to a full arrangement and then grew to a video. googling around i don't see any overtly political involvement from rotem shefy or leat sabbah. much like radiohead on the original, it seems like a something that started as a joke and transformed into something beautiful.
posted by nadawi at 12:27 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I skimmed this post too quickly and was expecting a cover of Karma Chameleon. Was really confused.

Jill Jackson.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on April 24, 2013


Seems like they're all Israelis and she sings with a strong Arab accent. There's a lot of hate in the YT comments about it, mostly in Hebrew. I guess it's not a done thing. I liked it very much, being a bit biased when it comes to middle-eastern arrangement. But then again, my opinion is completely irrelevant.
posted by surrendering monkey at 12:33 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked it very much, being a bit biased when it comes to middle-eastern arrangement.

Same here. I think it's both fun and very enjoyable. Everything should always have oud.
posted by Bektashi at 12:37 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


the youtube comments are also filled with idiots blathering on about a horse pulling a cart and how thom yorke should sue them since they condone animal cruelty. before this derail goes too much further, there is a metatalk thread.
posted by nadawi at 12:38 PM on April 24, 2013


Damn that Cee-Lo version is epic. It's like he's singing from the center of the earth.
posted by diogenes at 12:48 PM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah the Cee-Lo cover of Reckoner is as good if not superior to the original... it's a rare thing like the violent femmes cover of crazy
posted by NiteMayr at 1:01 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best cover of any Radiohead song is always in Rodeohead.

Another novelty version.
posted by ovvl at 1:34 PM on April 24, 2013


Wait. Gnarls Barkley = Cee Lo + Danger Mouse? How did I not know this?!?

I used to know some shit about music. Then I had kids.

Grumble, grumble....
posted by rbellon at 1:35 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with swift -- the first two thirds is just okay, adding a little accent and altered instrumentation to the original, but the last third they just own. I do hate the idea that only the original ever counts -- music, by its nature, is meant to be repeated, reinterpreted, and different every time. It's a performance art for pity's sake.

Anyway, as per her accent:
Born to Israeli and Moroccan parents, Cellist Leat Sabbah, has performed a variety of musical styles worldwide
posted by dhartung at 2:01 PM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


ONE OF THE GREATEST COVERS I'VE EVER HEARD. And I don't even like Radiohead. Absolutely brilliant and I'm now a huge fan of this group. Excellent post.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:09 PM on April 24, 2013


Made me feel funny things - but then, the song makes me feel weird: it's a really interesting piece of music. I thought this third cover was pretty terrific, by a lot of obviously wildly talented musicians - but the final refrain "This is what you get if you mess with us." I always took that as seriously as a threat from a corner hooligan - if I stay off his block i'll have no problems from him. In their version there was a much different tone, more political, more like the 'us' comprised a lot of people, a huge mass of people who could reach you in your house. (I don't know from sides in the middle east, I leave it at 'more than two') There's a sinister aspect to that which I find ... is not my thing.

The St.Vincent link, she's not doing radiohead but she is doing it really really well.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2013


I enjoyed it. Encountered this shortly thereafter. Clever overlay of the vocals from A Day in the Life over the piano from Karma Police.
posted by aquanaut at 3:03 PM on April 24, 2013


That bad plus cover is awesome.

And speaking of covers that may be better than the original, go check out mefi's own flapjacks at midnight covering the velvet underground. It is in mefi music.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:57 PM on April 24, 2013


Didn't really care for the main cover in question, but I've had an embarrassingly exuberant love of the Easy-Star All-Stars / Citizen Cope version for a while. WHY MUST MY SHAME FOLLOW ME TO METAFILTER

Also, I think Karma Police's "for a minute there..." coda is one of the most inspired sections of a pop song ever.
posted by threeants at 6:22 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a ridiculously hardcore Radiohead fan...and I really really enjoyed this. Thank you.
posted by Windigo at 8:15 PM on April 24, 2013


What you enjoy, I find painful. How dare you like something enough to promote it unsolicited without consulting people who may not agree?
posted by mediocre at 8:29 PM on April 24, 2013


So I'm living in a George Alec Effinger novel now?

I like this. But I liked Ofra Haza with The Sisters of Mercy in the 80s, so what do I know?
posted by jclarkin at 9:50 PM on April 24, 2013


Wow, I really dug that. I think it's best when a band really changes a cover, because they're usually finding some aspect of the original that was unintentional.

But then, I'm in a band doing a pop punk cover of a super slow Nick Cave song, so maybe I'm trying to defend my own perversity.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:46 PM on April 24, 2013


The St.Vincent link, she's not doing radiohead but she is doing it really really well.

No, she's not, but she's in a conveyance so that should count for something. And...isn't she amazing.
posted by Infinity_8 at 6:29 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, hello! Oh, it's alright, its an oud. Ouds are good. Love an oud.
posted by erniepan at 7:59 AM on April 25, 2013


I really liked the instrumental backing, but somehow the over-the-top vocals really turned me off earlier today when I listened to this. I revisited it again just now to challenge myself to understand what I didn't really like about this, and came across the artist's official soundcloud page.

In their own words: "A satirical arrangement recorded with an exaggerated Arabic accent..."

There it is! It sounds like it's mocking the particular style and accent! It's a real shame, because I thought it had great promise. Maybe it's because I don't want to laugh at it; I just want to get into it! It's just that this kind of attitude gets in my way.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 10:03 AM on April 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


It is like Umm Kulthum herself covered radiohead. The results seem more like Johnny Cash covering Danny Boy.
posted by humanfont at 2:56 PM on April 25, 2013


I just want to get into it! It's just that this kind of attitude gets in my way

Okay, but if you had read the kickstarter page in the op, you'd see that "What seemed at first a satirical cover transformed into a full-blown multi-layered middle-eastern arrangement,"

A lot of covers come about like this. One person starts joking around with a song at practice, or jamming with other musicians, then it starts to get good. It's playful. That's a plus, in my estimation.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:38 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It can also be... problematic. I think they are good enough musicians to pull it off, but yeah they are toeing a line with going over-the-top on the Middle-Easterny-ness.
posted by stratastar at 3:52 AM on April 26, 2013


Anyway, as per her accent:
Born to Israeli and Moroccan parents, Cellist Leat Sabbah, has performed a variety of musical styles worldwide
The cellist is the one playing the cello, not the one whose accent is being noted.
posted by Flunkie at 12:32 PM on April 27, 2013


Thanks for this. Never would have heard of them otherwise. It starts out more self consciously, but at about 1:50 it changes, and yeah, they own it; it becomes their song. Joe in Australia has an interesting comment about the style in the metatalk thread that's worth linking here.
posted by gudrun at 7:43 AM on April 28, 2013


Given that they themselves have said it was done in "an exaggerated Arabic accent", I think I don't understand the part of that Joe in Australia comment that says " I very much doubt that anyone in Israel would even think that she was referencing Arabs".
posted by Flunkie at 8:47 AM on April 28, 2013


« Older The world as you know it is a hologram of sound...  |  I was staring at a week and a ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments