Radiohead’s a band that’s almost defined by how much they change (but I could talk extensively about how they really haven’t!). Creep is pretty famous outside of Radiohead’s fanbase as the only Radiohead song they know/like, and inside as a song that Radiohead disowned because of how popular it became! I’m a fan, though, and it’s fun to look how radiohead does “creep” over the years.
1994 - blond thom
The first thing to notice is that Thom is a beautiful man. The second is that he’s not holding a guitar. Radiohead’s earlier work frequently abused the fact that the band has three guitarists, and it’s a rare performance where Thom isn’t holding one. He’s really melodic in this performance, and it reflects how the studio version of song sounds. You can tell that Thom still isn’t mature in his vocal performance, though, and he uses some sounds that are relegated to Pablo Honey. But the bridge (“she’s running”) is super intense! Jonny Greenwood’s lead into the chorus (the “chuh chunk” part) is really noisy and fun in this version. The band takes a lot more liberty with noise and drone.
Now let’s take a look at the song in 2009:
The difference in Thom’s singing is extraordinary! He takes an incredibly “lazy” approach to this song, something he was a lot more willing to experiment with in the later years of the band. I have half a mind to think he’s taking the piss out of the song, but they certainly weren’t pressured into playing it, given the vast body of their later work. Other “later” versions of Creep have the same lazy vibe. Also, I’m really digging his 2009 hair (not a fan of the leather jacket, though!). He really belts it out during the “she’s running” bridge, but it doesn’t sound at all like the studio version. Still, an emotional performance.
Both performances are fantastic. While I think that the 1994 version is more impressive, the 2009 one definitely fits in with Radiohead’s contemporary sound. It’s fun to hear Radiohead’s later version of Creep, because I don’t think I’ve heard any covers of the song that take as many liberties with it as Radiohead does.