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Thom Yorke has never been the happiest of campers and nowhere is this more evident than on Radiohead’s breakthrough hit and monumental anthem to self-loathing, “Creep.”

An unexpected hit in America in 1993, “Creep” mined the contemporary vogue for glum,
Song facts
Composer Yorke/Selway/
Genre Rock
Album Pablo Honey
Released 1992
UK Chart 7
alternative rock anthems prevalent in those grungy days and briefly looked like making the band stars in America. But they failed to capitalise on the song's success and for a while looked like becoming one hit wonders before bouncing back with the superlative album The Bends.

This state of affairs wasn't helped by their ambivalent attitude to the song itself. Indeed, the song's finest moment, the massive guitar crunch which ushers in the chorus, arose partly as a result of Jonny Greenwood's dissatisfaction. The guitarist simply turned his rack of distortion pedals up to the max and hit the strings as hard as he could in an act of sabotage.

On one level, Greenwood's reservations are understandable, as "Creep" is fairly derivative. The quiet verse/heavy chorus dynamic shift is reminiscent of Yorke's heroes The Pixies, and was a template adopted enthusiastically by many grunge bands, most notably Nirvana. The softly picked guitar arpeggios recall REM and (interestingly given Radiohead's later prog rock leanings) Pink Floyd's "Us and Them". However, the queasy chord changes and swooning shifts from major to minor as Yorke intones that he wishes he was "so very special" perfectly capture the lyric's atmosphere of ennui.

In the wake of the song's Stateside success, Radiohead embarked on two major tours in the US, supporting Tears for Fears and Belly. They rapidly grew sick of it, with Yorke in particular tiring of his image as another depressed and dysfunctional rock star, claiming that audiences missed his ironic intent. These days the band rarely plays the song and, indeed, has virtually disowned its parent album. But, for many, Creep remains one of the defining songs of British rock in the early '90s and an example of Radiohead's strengths before they went all weird on us.

Other versions
Chrissie Hynde
 The Pretenders version is without the pyscho angsty guitars but Hynde's performance is bitterly felt nontheless.

Depressingly real - this song achingly recreates the sense of inadequacy in an unequal relationship

James, Stoke

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