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Body and Soul, They Were Creeps

The fourth single from Stone Temple Pilots’ debut was an acousticdirge called “Creep.” That statement is an anomaly for two reasons.First, when was the last time any album, especially a mainstream rockrecord, broke four singles? U2 pulled it off with All That You Can’t Leave Behind,but I leave U2 out of this argument because A) Bono has managed to turnU2 into a lifestyle, so the songs don’t really matter anymore — sayingyou like U2 now only means that you think poverty is a bad thing; andB) I hate U2, so they’re disqualified anyway.

Getting back toStone Temple Pilots: The other reason that statement about “Creep”seems foreign now is because of the title of that song. “Creep” wasjust one of a long line of spectacular songs that came into beingduring the grunge era, had a rough time during the end of the ’90s, andsaw some sort of ironic death some time after the turn of the century.

Inorder to be considered a creep rocker, the song needed only to be adirge and have a lyric sheet overflowing with self-loathing. If ithappened to be an anthem, so much the better. STP’s creep rocker wasprobably the biggest of the batch (at least at the time), but it wasnot alone. Alice in Chains specialized in creep rockers. Their debutalbums contained “Bleed the Freak,” and their breakout single, “Man inthe Box,” contains enough lyrics about Layne Staley hating himself toqualify. But the best creep rockers had monosyllabic titles, which iswhy Alice’s definitive entry to the genre is “Junkhead” from 1992’s Dirt.

Thecreep rockers marched on: Nirvana (“Dumb”), Silverchair (“Freak”), theVerve Pipe (“Hero”), and, of course, Radiohead, who first made it bigwith a creep rocker titled “Creep.” But once grunge sputtered out andbig rock was taken over by rap-rock and the new aggro, the rage turnedoutward again and the creep rocker fell off. Korn made a bunch of bids,but those songs were rarely slow enough and Jonathan Davis had atendency to blame his parents and not himself. Nickelback doesn’tappear to have made any entries. The less said about Limp Bizkit, thebetter.

The closest thing we’ve had to a creep rocker recentlywas the Strokes’ “On the Other Side,” where Julian Casablancas keepsmentioning how much he hates himself. But you have to assume that it’sout of some sort of New York irony — there’s no way he hates himselfthe same way Scott Weiland hated himself back in ’92 (interestingly,Velvet Revolver’s album contained a creep rocker in “Fall to Pieces,”so maybe Weiland is the genre’s patron saint and savior). Here’s hopingthe forthcoming Velvet Revolver record’s lyric sheet contains plenty of”jerks,” “freaks,” and of course, “creeps.”

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