The best—and the weirdest—cover versions of Radiohead's 'Creep'

Radiohead's 'Creep' has been covered dozens of times in a range of musical styles.

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

@hallebailey

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)

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

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