Is there an actor in the universe more ’90s than Jim Carrey? The guy rose from stand-up notoriety to national prominence on the sketch show In Living Color, which premiered in the spring of 1990, and then to international superstardom thanks to flicks like The Mask and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
He finished out the decade with a series of strong dramatic roles—including his turn as Andy Kaufman in the biopic Man in the Moon—but since the turn of the century, he has wavered between the broad stuff he used to be known for (Bruce Almighty, Yes Man) and down-the-rabbit-hole head-scratchers (The Number 23, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Really, the guy might as well be Billy Corgan.
Which is why it makes perfect sense that Carrey’s band played a gig in New York over the weekend and dropped in a pair of ’90s alt-rock covers into the mix. He channeled Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins during his read-through of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” but he really got into the groove during a version of Radiohead’s “Creep,” which you can check out below.
Though Radiohead have evolved way, way beyond it, “Creep” remains one of the most enduring tracks from the ’90s alt-rock explosion, possibly because it just keeps getting covered. Carrey’s rendition is pretty solid, but how does it stack up next to these?
The late-night host copped to loving Radiohead during his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour, and his version (performed as an over-the-top 19th century chimney sweep) became a staple of his live show. It’s funnier than anybody thought a song about self-loathing could be. B
Stripped to its raw acoustic core, the British pop star’s version of “Creep” is a reminder that underneath all that feedback was a gorgeous, floating melody. She loses one point for those sparkly leggings and but gains it back for that cool drum box that comes in at the halfway point. A-
On a long-enough timeline, Chrissie Hynde probably would have written “Creep” eventually. This one is all about her voice (listen to the way she wraps it around the “I’m a weirdo” line), though the strings do undercut some of the bile. B+
Once upon a time, both Weezer and Radiohead released masterpieces within a year of one another (that would be Pinkerton and OK Computer, for those not paying attention), though their directions since then have been quite different. When Rivers Cuomo set up a series of shows for the “Hootenanny” tour in 2008, he invited anybody with a guitar to come along and jam with the band. The “Creep” they whipped off in Portland became the world’s saddest campfire song, buoyed by the warmth of several dozen acoustics. It’s a little sloppy, but also surprisingly sharp in unexpected ways. B+
One of the big selling points of David Fincher’s Oscar-winning flick The Social Network was the trailer, which included a cover of “Creep” as sung by a Belgian girls’ choir. It’s haunting, beautiful, and probably on heavy rotation on Thom Yorke’s iPod. A+
As you can see, it’s very difficult to mess up “Creep”—the melody is both fantastically strong and surprisingly pliable (plus, that “so f—ing special” line always adds a well-timed bit of punch). There’s a reason it gets covered so much (and so much more often than, say, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”).
What’s your favorite cover of “Creep”? And what ’90s alt-rock song should Jim Carrey tackle next? Anyone for “Sex and Candy”?
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