Wednesday 24 March 2021

Surprising beauty: Hildegard von Blingin's Bardcore cover-version of Creep, by Radiohead

Music is a surprising art form... 

Here we have a song with an extraordinary provenance that - somehow - works superbly. I find it very beautiful, tender, sweet; indeed listening often moves me to tears from a mixture of nostalgia, emotional resonance and sheer aptness. 

Yet who would have guess it could do such a thing! The song Creep was the one-hit of a one-hit wonder pop group called Radiohead; and this parodic cover-version was done by an anonymous Canadian young woman with a joke-name (albeit possessed of a voice of crystalline clarity, lovely tone, and perfect intonation), from her bedroom at home with the help of her brother - using sampled sounds of 'medieval' instruments. 

('Bardcore' is the name of this recent genre: intentionally amusing pseudo-medieval arrangements of modern pop and rock classics.)

The song itself was, apparently by chance - since it was never replicated by the band - built on a repeating sequence of four chords Cmaj, Emaj, Fmaj, Fmin - which has for me an extraordinary wistful, suggestive, yearning quality. 

This was a common early-baroque means of composition - termed a chaconne and found in the lies of Buxtehude, Purcell, Bach; but uncommon in pop music!

In the original Radiohead version, the song is rather messed-up and obscured by its arrangement - or, at least, it fails to reveal the extraordinary, burning intensity which Hildegard v B extracts from it.  

The lyrics (with their archaic modifications by HvB) are exactly expressive of the real experience of being helplessly, hopelessly, love-struck; for an idealistic and romantically-inclined young man (such as I once was - and, apparently, still am; apart from the 'hopeless' bit). 

Anyway, from these rather unlikely ingredients we get a perfect lyrical gem. Everything comes together; everything works. Who would have thought it possible! 


Francis Berger said...

Radiohead a one-hit wonder band?? I beg your pardon!

Anyway, this version of Creep is among my favorite bardcore songs. I included it on my blog as well back in October. You provided some insightful comments about von Blingen and the bardcore genre in general there.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - Well Radiohead are a one hit wonder band from my POV! It seems they accidentally stumbled on this gem of a song, but did not know what they had - and thus came close to desecrating its beauty with profanities and an intermittent wall of overdriven fuzz guitar: an act of cynical 'reductionism' that was much closer to real (but self-) parody than the cod-Medieval 'thees and thous' of Miss Blingin's rendition!

Mainstream modern people are often embarrassed by beauty - even/ especially when they create it themselves - and respond by trying to despoil it with facetiousness, irony and mockery.

Francis Berger said...

@Bruce - Yes, yes, point taken. It took Von Blingen to discover the diamond within the song, while all Radiohead saw was a lump of coal . . . which they then proceeded to douse in petrol and light on fire.

I suggest you avoid Radiohead's non-hits like "Just" and "Karma Police".

It really is remarkable how embarrassing most moderns find beauty. Perhaps the embarrassment lies in the unacknowledged intuition that beauty can indeed save the world?(together with truth and goodness, of course).

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Rick Rubin tried very hard to convince Johnny Cash to cover this. Never happened.

I agree with the one-hit wonder assessment. I made a few desultory attempts to dig Radiohead back when that was a thing, but it never took.

No, wait, that was Teletubbies. Sorry, I always get those two confused!

Nathanael said...

radiohead were not a one-hit wonder haha!