While initially criticized for being ‘too depressing’, the 1990’s song “Creep” by Radiohead remains to be the band’s top hit single. This song is famously known for its melancholic, and self-loathing themes about feeling inferior and unworthy. However, it is also about lead singer and guitarist Thom Yorke trying to reconcile his masculinity as a man in the ‘90s. The song captures his intense and obsessive feelings for a mysterious woman he never met officially. Having apparently followed her previously, he was mortified when she appeared at one of his concerts. The song is ultimately one of self-deprecation, a hit to one’s self-esteem, but also speaks to an evolving sense of one’s masculinity, depression aside. According to guitarist-keyboardist Jonny Greenwood, it’s about “recognizing what you are.”
The slower heartfelt outpour of emotion desperately echoed in Yorke’s voice are met with Greenwood’s thunderous guitar riffs. This sharp contrast is reminiscent of internal battles men often face when it comes to vulnerability and perceived self-worth. The contrast reflects the need for a bold reminder of undisputed masulinity after a period of vulnerability. As if such raw emotions could only be tolerated for so long. During the 1990’s acknowledgment of such feelings were deemed ‘effeminate’ a label many often dodged and criticized during this time.
Over time, this song has resonated with many who feels like an outcast. The song made its official on-stage return in 2016 during Radiohead’s Moon Shaped Pool tour in Amsterdam after being practically excluded from live shows due to over-popularity. No longer haunted by the pressure Creep once brought the band the song’s nostalgic return was undoubtedly a welcome one, and for many die-hard fans was long overdue.
Feature Image: Daniele Dalledonne, On Flickr, Creative Commons