Radiohead’s presence in alternative music over the last few decades can be attributed to their constantly changing sound and pursuit of creative integrity. Yet, for a time at least, the band were considered to be one-hit wonders, cherishing their time in the MTV spotlight.
We’re looking back at the moment Radiohead took their shot at the mainstream with their now-iconic appearance at MTV’s Beach House in 1993 to give a raucous performance of ‘Creep’.
Though Radiohead were touring America for the first time, their postcards home didn’t exactly shout about the Beatlemania that followed them. In fact, quite the opposite. ‘Creep’ had provided the band a platform to perform on but it seemed outside of that America wasn’t quite ready for Radiohead.
Though the slow rise of ‘Creep’ in the charts had been a small slice of success, the group had been struggling to gather any momentum with their live performances with audiences noticeably leaving venues once the single was played. It was a disappointing scene for a band with such heavy credentials.
The single’s success was largely down to MTV’s ‘Buzz Bin’ which had seen the track put on heavy rotation. The song’s message resonated with grunge generation but where Nirvana et al backed up that message with heavy distortion and violent vocals, aside from ‘Creep’s pulsating guitar, Radiohead were a little more purist.
It meant that Yorke and co. disengaged with the American market as a focal point and returned to making music. But before the tour was concluded MTV would come knocking once again to offer Radiohead the chance to perform at their 1993 edition of MTV’s Beach House. With a new single, ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’, due for release, Radiohead just couldn’t turn it down.
That fact means we have a rather juxtaposing set of images to look back on. The bleach blonde Yorke with a ghostly visage and the pain of performing ‘Creep’ once again hidden by dark shades, delivers a powerful and rousing ‘radio edit’ performance of the song that would act as an albatross around their neck for years to come.
After the performance of the new single ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ Yorke would nearly electrocute himself as he jumped in the pool with a live microphone. Whether or not the provocation for the subconscious suicide attempt was, in fact, the shambolic pop scene laid out before him, we will never know.
What we do know is that only one year later Radiohead would write and record ‘My Iron Lung’ a song about the misery of playing a track over and over, despite it being the very thing that gave you life in the first place.
So without further ado, take a look at the inspirational moment Radiohead performed ‘Creep’ at MTV’s Beach House in 1993