Radiohead's "Creep" has had an interesting journey during its 30-year lifespan. The song wasn't a big hit when it was first released in 1992, only reaching No. 78 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The BBC actually banned it for a while, basically because it was too emo for the early '90s. (We were all about the angst in the early '90s. Actual sadness and loneliness, not so much. It also had the f-word in it.) But after it became a hit in Israel, its popularity spread, and when it was reissued in the U.K. in 1993, it reached No. 7.
Die-hard fans of Radiohead don't like the song much because they don't think it reflects the band's true sound. The band itself has some mixed feelings about playing it and in their song "My Iron Lung" even expressed resentment of the way "Creep" had pigeonholed them. But its popularity has stuck and crossed generations, spawning multiple cover versions from a wide variety of artists.
Personally, I'm a fan of the song and always have been. "Creep" came out the year I graduated from high school and makes my Gen X heart go pitter-patter. It's also just a good song—different, yet entirely recognizable. The simple, two-beat guitar riffs just before the chorus are tidbits of genius. The lyrics explore feelings rarely expressed out loud. It has amazing contrast between the lilting verses and the grungy chorus. Here's the original if you need a refresher:
Radiohead - Creep www.youtube.com
It's also a song that covers actually do justice to, for the most part. Here is a handful of what I think are the best versions—and definitely one of the weirdest.
Let's start with the weird. The YouTube channel "There I Ruined It" shared a honky-tonk version of "Creep" that's every bit as WTF as it sounds. But the video is meticulously edited to make it look like both Radiohead and some honky-tonk stars are actually singing it, so even though the song is a bit of an assault on the ears (unless you love honky-tonk, in which case more power to you), the video is worth watching purely for the wow factor.
Honky-tonk "Creep" from There I Ruined It
Amazing, right? I mean, I kind of hate it—sorry honky-tonk fans—but I'm also genuinely impressed. The matchup of the backup vocals with the video clips is perfection.
If you need to wash that out of your ears, more pleasant-to-listen-to versions are plentiful. Halle Bailey (of Chloe x Halle twin fame) recently shared a stripped-down cover version on TikTok with just her voice and an electric guitar and it's lovely.
Generation TikTok "Creep" from Halle Bailey
my version of creepppp this song was in my head all day i had to sing it to get it out ! 🥰🤣
Halle Bailey is only 21, but she's not even the youngest performer to make "Creep" her own. In 2019, sisters Mimi and Josefin, ages 15 and 13, sang the song for their blind audition on Germany's "The Voice Kids." The audience and judges were so impressed with their performance, they sang an encore. The harmonies are what make this rendition particularly fun to listen to.
The Voice Audition "Creep" from Mimi & Josefin
Some of the best covers are the simple acoustic versions with just a singer and a guitar, like this one from Daniela Andrade.
Mellow acoustic "Creep" from Daniela Andrade
Ever heard an entire choir sing "Creep"? Check this out:
Creepy "Creep" from the Scala & Kolacny Brothers Choir
Scala & Kolacny Brothers is a Belgian girls' choir and their version is more haunting than anything else. It's the creepiest of the Creeps for sure, but very cool.
My personal favorite is the Vintage Postmodern Jukebox cover featuring Haley Reinhart. The big band sound is so unexpected for the song, the vocals are stellar, and it's just hands-down the best version I've come across.
Vintage big band "Creep" from Postmodern Jukebox
Sorry diehard Radiohead fans, but "Creep" isn't going anywhere anytime soon. People young and old love it and if musicians keep making it their own, it's probably going to outlast us all.
(Final note: It seems remiss not to include the 2021 remix of "Creep" released by Thom Yorke of Radiohead himself. It's not on my list of favorites, but it's interesting to see how he's interpreting the song three decades later.)
Thom Yorke feat. Radiohead - Creep (Very 2021 Rmx)
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