Twenty years ago yesterday, Radiohead released the song that put them on the map in a big, big way. Oddly enough, it was an incredibly sullen (yet tersely gorgeous) single about having a gnarled body and a broken soul in a shiny happy society that couldn’t ever in a million years find such features attractive. And yet, here we are, in 2012, and “Creep” is still Radiohead’s most recognizable song, even though the band roundly refuses to play it at their shows. That’s fine, turns out, because everybody and their mom have recorded their own versions. Here, we line up the 10 most famous ones and knock them down or pump them up accordingly.
10. Kelly Clarkson, Bakersfield, 2012
What She Brings: That husky-voiced femininity that Radiohead’s long been lacking. And, um, thundering drums.
Bonus Points: Is that Tom Petty on her left?
Deductions: It should be clear.
9. Moby, Glastonbury, 2003
What He Brings: A far more ’90s-appropriate gruff-voiced quaver, plus some heavy guitars and sweetly soothing strings.
Bonus Points: He really is a weirdo.
Deductions: DJ scratch solos. Not “fresh.”
8. Amanda Palmer, Boston, 2007
What She Brings: A $19 ukelele, reportedly, and a couple pounds of makeup. And, like, irony? Or no? We can’t tell.
Bonus Points: She’s got guts.
Deductions: Crowd-sourced that sing-along.
7. Richard Cheese, album, 2000
What He Brings: Levity, which isn’t to be underrated considering just how sullen and self-pitying the O.G. is.
Bonus Points: “I’ll have that special.”
Deductions: He doesn’t belong here.
6. Damien Rice, Los Angeles, 2003
What He Brings: A real subtlety of delivery that highlights the delicacy of the original, without overly smoothing.
Bonus Points: Ewan McGregor Trainspotting steez.
5. Korn, MTV Unplugged, 2007
What They Bring: A shocking amount of restraint and vocal prowess, some beautiful piano play, and a horse mask.
Bonus Points: WTF? Really? Wow.
Deductions: Being Korn.
4. Weezer, Portland, 2008
What They Bring: About 200 local fans and music-makers to give the otherwise morose song a rare joyful noise.
Bonus Points: Making young people curse.
Deductions: The mustache on Rivers’ face.
3. Homeless Mustard, New York, 2009
What He Brings: Real fucking pain to this real fucking painful song. He is, to most, an actual creep.
Bonus Points: “I want you to notice when I’m not around.”
Deductions: Smell, probably.
2. The Pretenders, London, 1995
What They Bring: Chrissie Hynde, namely, an alt-punk angel who floats like a feather and whose skin makes us cry.
Bonus Points: She is So. Fucking. Special.
Deductions: You shut up. Just shut up.
1. Scala & Kolacny Brothers, The Netherlands, 2010
What They Bring: Everything. It’s amazing, effervescent, peerless. The choir babes crush it, and the piano is perfect.
Bonus Points: When they say “fucking.”
Deductions: Better than Radiohead.