Creep (Radiohead song)
|Single by Radiohead|
|from the album Pablo Honey|
|Released||21 September 1992|
|Format||7", 12", CD, cassette|
|Genre||Alternative rock, grunge|
|Writer(s)||Radiohead, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood|
|Producer||Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie|
|Radiohead singles chronology|
"Creep" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. Radiohead released "Creep" as their debut single in 1992, and it later appeared on their first album, Pablo Honey (1993). During its initial release, "Creep" was not a chart success. However, upon re-release in 1993, it became a worldwide hit. Attendees of Radiohead's early gigs often exhibited little interest in the band's other songs, causing the band to react against "Creep" and play it less often during the mid-to-late 1990s. In 1998, halfway through their OK Computer tour, the band dropped the song from set lists altogether. "Creep" was not played live again until 2001, but it has since reappeared several times on the band's live sets.
Background and recording
According to Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, Thom Yorke wrote "Creep" while studying at Exeter University in the late 1980s. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood said the song was inspired by a girl that Yorke had followed around who showed up unexpectedly during a show by the band.
In 1992 during rehearsal sessions with producers Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie, Radiohead spontaneously performed "Creep". Yorke described "Creep" to the producers as "our Scott Walker song"; Slade and Kolderie mistook the singer's remark and believed the song was a cover. After tension arose due to unsatisfactory attempts at recording other songs, Slade and Kolderie tried to improve morale by requesting Radiohead to play "Creep" again. The band recorded the song in a single take; after the performance everyone in the room burst into applause. Once the band assured Kolderie that "Creep" was an original song, he called EMI to tell them to consider the song as Radiohead's next single. While the recording had minimal overdubs and the band did not intend to release it, the producers were impressed with the song.
Due to similarities to "The Air That I Breathe", a song recorded by The Hollies in 1973, Radiohead was successfully sued for plagiarism. Consequently, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood are credited as co-writers of "Creep". "Creep" uses a chord progression used in "The Air That I Breathe" in its verse and a melody from "The Air That I Breathe" in the bridge following the second chorus.
Composition and lyrics
The G–B–C–Cm chord progression is repeated throughout the whole song, just alternating between arpeggiated chords in the verses and last chorus and loud power chords during the first two choruses. In G major, these may be interpreted as "I–III–IV–iv". According to Guy Capuzzo, the ostinato musically portrays "the song's obsessive lyrics, which depict the 'self-lacerating rage of an unsuccessful crush'." For example, the "highest pitches of the ostinato form a prominent chromatic line that 'creeps' up, then down, involving scale degrees – ♯– – ♭....[while] ascend[ing], the lyrics strain towards optimism...descend[ing], the subject sinks back into the throes of self-pity...The guitarist's fretting hand mirrors this contour".
When the song shifts from the verse to the chorus, Jonny Greenwood plays three blasts of guitar noise ("dead notes" played by releasing fret-hand pressure and picking the strings). Greenwood said he did this because he did not like how quiet the song was; he explained, "So I hit the guitar hard—really hard". Ed O'Brien said, "That's the sound of Jonny trying to fuck the song up. He really didn't like it the first time we played it, so he tried spoiling it. And it made the song." During the song's outro, Jonny Greenwood plays a piano figure. Kolderie forgot to add the piano part during the final mix until the end of the song, but the band approved of the final result.
According to Yorke, "Creep" tells the tale of an inebriated man who tries to get the attention of a woman to whom he is attracted by following her around. In the end, he lacks the self-confidence to face her and feels he subconsciously is her. When asked about "Creep" in 1993, Yorke said, "I have a real problem being a man in the '90s... Any man with any sensitivity or conscience toward the opposite sex would have a problem. To actually assert yourself in a masculine way without looking like you're in a hard-rock band is a very difficult thing to do... It comes back to the music we write, which is not effeminate, but it's not brutal in its arrogance. It is one of the things I'm always trying: To assert a sexual persona and on the other hand trying desperately to negate it." Jonny Greenwood said the song was in fact a happy song about "recognizing what you are".
The version issued for US radio play replaced the line "So fucking special" with "So very special". The group was worried that issuing a censored version would be a "bit of a sellout" according to Jonny Greenwood, but they decided it was acceptable since their idols Sonic Youth had done the same thing. Nonetheless, Greenwood noted the British press "weren't impressed" by the action. During the recording session for the censored lyrics, Kolderie convinced Yorke to rewrite the first verse, telling him he thought the singer could do better.
Release and reception
Despite initial reluctance, staff at EMI ultimately grew enthusiastic about "Creep", and the label decided to issue it as a single. "Creep" met with little success in the UK when it was first released in September 1992. Radio 1 found the song "too depressing" and refrained from playing the song. "Creep" reached number 78 on the UK Singles Chart, selling only 6,000 copies. The band soon moved onto a second single, "Anyone Can Play Guitar", to promote the album Pablo Honey, and released a non-album single, "Pop Is Dead".
Towards the end of 1992, DJ Yoav Kutner played "Creep" incessantly on the Israeli radio. He had been introduced to the song by a local representative of EMI. The song soon became a national hit. Radiohead quickly set up tour dates in the country to capitalise on the success. "Creep" had similar success in New Zealand, Spain, and Scandinavian countries. Around the same time, the San Francisco, California radio station KITS added the song to its playlist; and soon other radio stations along the American west coast followed suit. A censored version of the song was made available to radio stations, and by the second half of 1993, the song had become a hit nationwide. By the time Radiohead went to the United States, they were surprised by the success of the song. Yorke told Melody Maker in 1993 that many journalists misunderstood the song, asking him if it was a "joke".
Radiohead initially did not want to reissue "Creep" in the United Kingdom, but eventually relented. Bassist Colin Greenwood said that "after doing so well in America, there was this tremendous pressure from radio people, the press, the record company, even our fans, to put it out". The 1993 reissue reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart. The release was bolstered by a September 1993 Top of the Pops performance, which drew criticism from the music press and fellow artists: Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher opined that Radiohead were willing to appear on the show and alter the lyrics to reflect the clean edit of the song "because it made them more money". In December 2007, the song was ranked at #31 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's". In June 2008, "Creep" reentered the UK Singles Chart at number 37 after its inclusion on the compilation album Radiohead: The Best Of.
After mid-1998, Radiohead did not play the song live at all until the final encore of a 2001 hometown concert at South Park, Oxford, when they played it in a seemingly impromptu decision after an equipment failure on the organ just after the start of "Motion Picture Soundtrack". Thom Yorke commented that they would be playing a "slightly older song... I think." To date, the last major performance of the song was at Reading Festival 2009, where it opened their set.
In April 2008, Prince covered "Creep" at Coachella. This version was captured on a video from a concert-goer's mobile phone, and uploaded to YouTube. However, it was quickly taken down at Prince's request. After finding out about the blocking, Thom Yorke was quoted as saying, "Well, tell him to unblock it. It's our song."
- The Pretenders released an acoustic version in 1995.
- Frank Bennett released a crooner version in 1996.
- Filipino rock band Parokya ni Edgar released a parody of the song in 1996 in their album Khangkhungkherrnitz, called "Trip", about the narrator's special siopao in a "Shaolin house" that he really likes eating.
- Nu metal band Korn performed the song at their MTV Unplugged performance in 2006.
- In July 2010, the trailer to the American drama/biography film The Social Network included a cover of "Creep" by Belgian choir group Scala & Kolacny Brothers.
- Christian rock band Anberlin covered this song for AOL Sessions Under. The song was eventually released on their compilation album Lost Songs, which was released in November 20, 2007
- Singer-songwriter and actress Carrie Manolakos launched her debut album, Echo, in April 2012, with a concert at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. She ended the show with a cover of "Creep", which went viral days later, when it got picked up by Gawker, under the title "Eargasm."
- Macy Gray released a version of the song on an album of all covered songs titled "Covered" in March 2012.
- The Brazilian actor and singer Wagner Moura, recorded a version of "Creep" to a soundtrack for the movie O Homem do Futuro.
- Tripod covered the song in a performance at the NSC in August 2006.
- Metal band Sentenced covered the song in the re-issue of Frozen album in 2007.
- The song was covered by Dean Geyer and Lea Michele on the 2013 Glee episode "Guilty Pleasures".
- Steampunk band Abney Park also covered this song in their album Taxidermy in 2005.
- The Pride of Arizona marching band of the University of Arizona performed an arrangement of "Creep" as the second part of their 2012 show titled "Radiohead 2.0" arranged by director Jay C. Rees.
- "Creep" was covered on the Damien Rice album "Sounds Eclectic: The Covers Project."
- Japanese singer-songwriter Angela Aki covered "Creep" on the album "Songbook" in 2012.
- Argentinian jazz singer Karen Souza has also covered "Creep".
- UK original release
- "Creep" – 3:55
- "Lurgee" – 3:07
- "Inside My Head" – 3:12
- "Million Dollar Question" – 3:18
- (Cassette - Promo)
- "Creep" – 3:56
- "Faithless, the Wonder Boy" – 4:10
- UK re-release (CD)
- "Creep" (album version) – 3:58
- "Yes I Am" – 4:25
- "Blow Out" (remix) – 4:00
- "Inside My Head" (live) – 3:07
- UK re-release (12" vinyl)
- "Creep" (acoustic) – 4:19
- "You" (live) - 3:39
- "Vegetable" (live) - 3:07
- "Killer Cars" (live in Japan) - 2:17
The original versions of "Lurgee", "Blow Out", "You" and "Vegetable" are all taken from the album Pablo Honey.
- Reising (2005), p.210
- Forbes and Reisch (2009)
- Tate (2005), p.137
- Clover (2009), p.82
- Marzorati, Gerald. "The Post Rock Band". The New York Times. 1 October 2000. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
- Kempf, Christi. "The Radiohead Vision Creeps Onto Airwaves". Chicago Sun-Times. 7 June 1993.
- Randall, p. 83
- Randall, p. 83-84
- Sprague, David. "Contagious Creep". Billboard. 15 May 1993.
- Wardle, Ben. "Get off Coldplay's case – similar songs can co-exist peacefully". Guardian.co.uk. 12 May 2009. Retrieved on 22 September 2010.
- "Song info: 'Creep'", AlbertHammond.com.
- English, Tim (2007). Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Stolen Melodies, Ripped-Off Riffs, and the Secret History of Rock and Roll, p.149. ISBN 9781583480236.
- Capuzzo, Guy. "Neo-Riemannian Theory and the Analysis of Pop-Rock Music", p.186–87, Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 177–199. Autumn 2004.
- Capuzzo ibid. Also quotes Ross 2001, 118.
- CD Inlay Archive. 1993
- Randall, p. 98
- Sullivan, Jim. "Creep stumbles onto fame". The Boston Globe. 8 October 1993.
- Randall, p. 99
- Randall, p. 84-85
- Jennings, Dave. "Creepshow". Melody Maker. 25 September 1993.
- Randall, p. 88
- Harry Rubinstein, The Radiohead - Israel connection
- Randall, p. 90-91
- Randall, p. 117
- Randall, p. 118
- Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop. 2003. Bonus interviews.
- 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
- The Official UK Charts Company: Top 100 Singles Chart. 15 June 2008
- "Rapturous return for masters of misery". BBC News. 8 July 2001. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- "Radiohead at Reading Festival - Live Report". Ateaseweb.com. 30 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- "Radiohead News - Yahoo! Music". Music.yahoo.com. 2008-05-30. Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
- Korn Quiet Down With The Cure, Amy Lee For 'MTV Unplugged' MTV.com.
- Roberts, Soraya (15 July 2010). "Social Network' trailer premieres and represents Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as a 'creep". Daily News (New York).
- "Anberlin - Creep (Acoustic-AOL Sessions)". YouTube. 2007-11-23. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- Broadway star's Radiohead cover will blow you away, msn.com, April 22, 2012
- "Radiohead At Ease Macy Gray to release cover of Radiohead's Creep on new album". Ateaseweb.com. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- "Wagner Moura grava música do Radiohead para filme" (in Brazilian). Rolling Stone Brazil. July 27, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Tripod "Paranoid Android"
- Sentenced "Creep"
- Ausiello, Michael (March 21, 2013). "Glee Recap: The Guilty Pleasure Principle". TVLine. PMC. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
- Clover, Joshua (2009). 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About. University of California Press. ISBN 052094464X.
- Forbes, Brandon W. and George A. Reisch (2009). Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter Happier More Deductive. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 0812696646.
- Randall, Mac. Exit Music: The Radiohead Story. Delta, 2000. ISBN 0-385-33393-5
- Reising, Russell (2005). Speak To Me: The Legacy Of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0754640191.
- Tate, Joseph (2005). The music and art of Radiohead. Ashgate. ISBN 0754639797.
- "Creep" single tracklists
- "Creep" Official music video on YouTube
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics