Here’s Why Radiohead Rarely Plays "Creep" Live and Why They Despise the Track
It's not uncommon for famous musicians to loathe their most popular songs after a while. Back in the day, MTV played Peter Gabriel's stop-motion animated music video for "Sledgehammer" so much that he reportedly requested they stop. To this day it remains the channel's most played music video.
Sometimes this continuous play can lead artists to loathe their own songs, and some are more vocal about it than others. Radiohead, for example, famously hates their hit song "Creep" very, very much. But why?
Why does Radiohead hate "Creep"?
Even if you can't name a single other song of Radiohead's, there's a really good chance you've heard "Creep."
There's a strong argument to be made that the track is the anthem of the '90s alt-rock scene. It was written by Thom Yorke when he was a student at Exeter University in 1987 as an acoustic track.
When questioned about the song in a 1993 interview, Yorke said, "I have a real problem being a man in the '90s. … Any man with any sensitivity or conscience toward the opposite sex would have a problem. To actually assert yourself in a masculine way without looking like you're in a hard-rock band is a very difficult thing to do. … It comes back to the music we write, which is not effeminate, but it's not brutal in its arrogance. It is one of the things I'm always trying: to assert a sexual persona and on the other hand trying desperately to negate it."
Yorke went on to say that the song is basically about being in love with someone but always feeling as if you weren't good enough for them. "There's the beautiful people and then there's the rest of us," the musician stated.
And while "Creep" helped make Radiohead a household name, for Yorke, its massive success and widespread airplay ultimately stunted their growth as musicians for two years after the track blew up. Band member Johnny Greenwood said, "We were like paranoid little mice in cages. … We were scared of our instruments, scared of every note not being right."
Johnny said it was also frustrating to play large shows in front of folks clamoring for "Creep" who would then leave the concert after they were finished with the track.
"We seemed to be living out the same four and a half minutes of our lives over and over again. It was incredibly stultifying," Johnny remarked.
During a performance in Montreal, Yorke responded to chants in the crowd from audience members who shouted "Creep" time and again, stating, "F--k off, we're tired of it."
In 2016, however, the band shocked a live audience when a member of the crowd shouted, "Creep" and Yorke said, "This is for the funny guy shouting 'Creep' in the back. Only to shock you," and the band actually played it live, which they hadn't done since 2009. The crowd erupted.
So an amalgamation of mounting, possibly career-ruining pressure and being defined by a track with a level of success that is difficult to replicate soured Radiohead's perception of "Creep."