For all its failings, the internet can be a wonderful place. Take this fantastically produced honky-tonk version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, for example. Yes, someone out there clearly thought that the 1990s sad-boy rockers could do with a little cheering up, and this is the result. While Thom Yorke’s original lyrics have been left untouched, the backing has been rearranged to evoke the bawdy romanticism of the Old West.
With its slide guitars, pitch-perfect harmonies, and Nashville twang, there’s something so brilliantly contradictory about this offering from YouTube surrealist ‘There I Ruined It’. When it was released in 1993, ‘Creep’ came to embody the mesmerising adolescent angst and disillusionment that seemed to seep from Pablo Honey’s every pore; winning the hearts of countless teenagers with its melodious navel-gazing. Here, it becomes something quite different.
Written in 1987 while Yorke was studying at Exeter University, ‘Creep’ became a vehicle for the singer to explore his alienation from the rest of society, an estrangement that came to define the group’s image in subsequent years. In an interview following the song’s release, Yorke took the opportunity to stand up for those young men who felt unworthy in the eyes of the world. “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,” he confessed. “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.”
With the arrival of The Bends and OK Computer, Radiohead continued to develop a reputation as some of the most self-effacing and timorous men in rock. That reputation has only solidified over the years, and, today, it’s hard to mention Radiohead without conjuring up images of lonely English introverts blubbing into their breakfast. Juxtapose that image – as ‘There Are Ruined It’ has – with the feigned joviality of the ’50s American variety show and you’re onto a winner.
In this brilliant piece of work, gloomy Thom Yorke becomes a rootin’ tootin’ Nashvillian crooner, while Jonny Greenwood is transformed into some Cuban-heeled Squaredancing champion. If you’re as much a fan of this glorious reworking as I am, make sure you check out the other ill-fitting mashups through the YouTube channel, which include an Octoberfest rendition of NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’, and a swing version of Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’.
Listen to the clip, below.