Video Hangover: Massive Attack – “Karmacoma”

Twice a week, we dig in the archives for videos that we find noteworthy, memorable, or just unbelievably stupid. And then, we break ‘em down for you. Why Video Hangover? Because when you watch as many videos as we do, you’re going to feel it afterwards.

“Karmacoma”
Massive Attack, 1995

A few things to consider while you’re trying to figure out who shot Mushroom?


V for veggies and cheese, hold the mayo
We like videos that reference pop culture, but this is a bit ridiculous. Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, The Shining — was “Karmacoma” directed by the same guy who picked the posters for the common area in our freshman dorm? Luckily there are some original images tucked among the spotty Tarantino and Kubrick references. The guy with his finger in his belly button, for example, and the guy with the tongue stud who’s looking to get a little American Psycho on a prostitute. And then there’s our favorite: the freaked-out delivery man trying desperately to get a hoagie to Alan Moore.

Peter, Bjorn, John, and three bottles of Dimetapp
Sometimes a memorable video can redeem a crappy song, and sometimes a great song can make a ho-hum video worth watching. “Karmacoma,” despite all its visual pretensions, falls squarely in the latter category. The forced weirdness, quirky characters, and the borrowed elements of “cool” movies get old quickly, but something about the music makes it hard to change the channel (or close our browser) until it’s over. The unrelentingly creepy backbeat is like a cross between the second half of Sandinista! and a chopped and screwed version of “Young Folks.”

It’s ironic, smoking hydroponic
Tricky isn’t exactly Bob Dylan when it comes to writing memorable lyrics, so we always wondered how the same verses ended on both this track and Maxinquaye’s “Overcome.” DAT mixup? Photocopier error? Extreme laziness? Whatever the cause, it’s one of the only documented instances of a musician getting so stoned that he accidentally covers himself.

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