Radiohead’s “Creep” Performed in a Vintage Jazz-Age Style

Smash­ing Pump­kins’ leader—and sole remain­ing orig­i­nal member—Billy Cor­gan is a man of many opin­ions, most of which I find easy to ignore. But in one of his recent made-for-head­lines quotes, he referred to fel­low nineties alt-rock super­stars Radio­head as “the last band that did any­thing new with the gui­tar.” It is, of course, impos­si­ble to quan­ti­fy this not-espe­cial­ly con­tro­ver­sial state­ment, but I haven’t found it easy to dis­miss either. After Radiohead’s first three albums, we had maybe a sol­id decade of musi­cians look­ing back to a time before elec­tric gui­tars to find an alter­nate path for­ward (as Radio­head them­selves large­ly trad­ed gui­tars for syn­the­siz­ers). That said, in the years since Pablo Hon­ey, The Bends, and OK Com­put­er, Thom Yorke and band’s break­out song, “Creep,” has suc­cess­ful­ly trans­lat­ed to so many unplugged arrange­ments that they deserve cred­it for writ­ing a uni­ver­sal­ly beloved new stan­dard as well as rein­vent­ing rock guitar—even if they’d pre­fer we all for­get their first, angst-rid­den hit.

There’s Mex­i­can actor Diego Luna’s pow­er­ful ren­di­tion, as the ani­mat­ed trou­ba­dour Manolo in Jorge Gutierrez’s Book of Life. There’s Tori Amos’ char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly intense, live voice and piano ver­sion; there’s Aman­da Palmer on ukulele, Damien Rice on acoustic gui­tar, and Korn—believe it or not—in a very taste­ful acoustic cov­er. Now we can add to these the bring-down-the-house swing arrange­ment at the top of the post, with jazz singer Haley Rein­hart, who slides from play­ful vamp to an almost gospel crescen­do, and all, we’re told, on a first take. This jazz-age cov­er comes to us from pianist Scott Bradlee’s Post­mod­ern Juke­box, a tour­ing col­lec­tion of ensem­ble musi­cians that Bradlee assem­bles to re-inter­pret famous pop songs. He pre­vi­ous­ly record­ed a sweet, clas­sic soul cov­er of “Creep” with Karen Marie, above. The list of oth­er Post­mod­ern Juke­box cov­ers ranges from a “Sad Clown with a Gold­en Voice” ver­sion of Lorde’s “Roy­als” to a klezmer take on Jason Derulo’s club anthem “Talk Dirty” (with the song’s 2 Chainz rap in Yid­dish). We pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured a New Orleans jazz ren­di­tion of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” with stage actress and singer Miche Braden. As Ayun Hal­l­i­day wrote of the Guns n’ Ros­es’ reimag­in­ing, the Radio­head cov­ers above are “not with­out gim­mick, but it’s a win­ning one.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Guns N’ Ros­es “Sweet Child O’ Mine” Retooled as 1920s New Orleans Jazz

Pat­ti Smith’s Pas­sion­ate Cov­ers of Jimi Hen­drix, Nir­vana, Jef­fer­son Air­plane & Prince

Lis­ten to a New Album Fea­tur­ing Tom Waits Songs in Hebrew (2013)

Hear 38 Ver­sions of “Sep­tem­ber Song,” from James Brown, Lou Reed, Sarah Vaugh­an and Oth­ers

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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