Creed at 15: Pretty Tolerable Without Music Videos

Categories: Talking Shit
Clockwise, from upper left: "One Last Breath," "Take Me Higher," "My Sacrifice," and "What If."
Creed's debut album, My Own Prison, will be 15 years old in 2012. To celebrate, the band's playing the record and follow-up Human Clay in full as part of intimate two-night engagements around the country in April and May. Hand-wringing and eye-rolling ensued among those with whom County Grind discussed this development.

Still, a blend of postgrunge riffage and spiritual references alone doesn't earn any group multiple "shreds" parody clips. But add the blitzkrieg of ego in Creed's music videos that remains even when the music's on mute. My sacrifice: Watching every single fist-clenching moment in every Creed music video ever made to figure out where it all went wrong.

A Creed Refresher

Although it's a fun knee-jerk exercise to take little jabs at Creed's ability to repel wolves, Scott Stapp's "Marlins Will Soar" debacle, the group's lyrical content, Stapp singing Christmas carols, and umpteen metal horns sightings during recording sessions for the band's fifth album, this band is far from universally reviled. In spite of several damaging moments from Stapp's personal life, the Tallahassee act was one of the most commercially successful bands during the late '90s. Plus, controversy and run-ins with the law daily befall our other musical heroes -- Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Britney Spears, to name a few -- so that's hardly enough of a reason to make Creed out to be so bad.

But in 2011, it's impossible to think of Creed without that amalgam of Jesus Christ poses, wind machines, and grimaces that Scott Stapp began honing 15 years ago.

My introduction to Creed was painless. During a very brief romance my freshman year of college, a girl lured me back to her dark dorm room on a few occasions and hit shuffle on her Aiwa ministereo, and awkward making out commenced. The trays held the first Creed and Days of the New albums, and in those days, those bands were pretty much interchangeable. For a good while after that, when I'd hear Creed's "My Own Prison" at the bowling alley, it didn't make the bile inside me climb the rungs of my esophagus, but I might scratch my head and wonder which Alice in Chains album the song came from.

Days of the New's "Touch, Peel and Stand"
Days of the New frontman Travis Meeks clearly had a bit of a fascination with Chris Cornell's unkempt beard, wild eyes, and shirtlessness -- and who could blame him in 1997. But he can't quite pull off the Soundgarden frontman's massive range. The "Touch, Peel and Stand" clip from the Louisville act -- perhaps the only band signed by R.EM. producer Scott Litt to once feature Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger as a touring member -- takes us through a tour of quickly cutting scenes from, semiblurry, fish eye effects, someone wearing Birkenstocks, and a dude shaving his head. Meeks throws some furniture around a dirty house the way Stapp would eventually in real life, but this is just a dated, mediocre video.
Martyr poses: 0

The My Own Prison Era

Onto the blue-tinted flair of Creed's first video, released a few months after "Touch, Peel and Stand." Directed by Stephen Scott (Shelby Lynne, Ron Sexsmith), the clip includes Stapp experimenting with lip-curling as he sings, "No appeal on the docket today, just my own sin." 

Creed's "My Own Prison"
This actually isn't that bad, though. The pencil-pushers in a gloomy, futuristic office spend almost as much time on screen as Creed does, and Stapp's reverberating jaw is mostly shown at a distance. It's not quite humble but certainly not among the egotistical atrocities that would befall the band in years to come.
Martyr poses: 0

By the time we move to Creed's third single from My Own Prison, the Matchbox Twenty-ish "What's This Life For," things have rapidly slipped into theatrics that the band would never be able to live down. This Ramaa Mosley (Five for Fighting's "Superman," Tonic's "If You Could Only See") showcase (she later directed "Higher") is the moment Stapp was exposed for who he has always been, and the signature "arms wide open" pose makes its debut.

Creed's "What's This Life For"
Strangely, this is the only Creed song to contain a use of profanity. He is not, however, cursing the sand getting chucked in his face, because the band willingly decided to perform in the desert during an obviously man-made sandstorm (and later some seriously inclement weather). Not for nothing, but did he have to pick such a reflective microphone to use in the blazing sun?
Martyr poses: 2.5

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Chris R
Chris R

It really is a good question why so many other artists can get into trouble and no one bats an eyelash, but if it's Creed it's the worst thing in the world. I'll admit I've been a Creed fan since 1997. My brother and I actually traveled to central FL. to see them after we heard them on Zeta Goes Local. The band has always put on an arena rock show, even when they were still unsigned. Great stage presence, and a tight live performance that really made you wonder, 'why is this band not signed yet?'. In targeting Creed and Days of the New you really forgot to point the finger at other bands that came to rise thanks to Creed, such as Full Devil Jacket, 3 Doors Down, Nickelback, Staind, Dust For Life, Shinedown, Seether, etc. Sure it's fun to pick at some Creed videos, but have you taken a look at post Creed-band Alter Bridge's videos? Their first one, "Open Your Eyes" is literally bits and pieces of the songs "Higher" and "My Sacrifice," and has just as goofy a video. Plus vocalist Myles Kennedy sounds castrated with those wannabe Robert Plant vocals. Most bands on rock radio the past 12 years or so owe their sound to Creed, especially guitarist Mark Tremonti who basically crated a template for modern hard rock. By the way, the video for "Higher" was shot at House of Blues in Orlando. The video for "My own prison" is inspired by the movie 12 Monkeys, and there are two different videos for "What's This Life For." People can pick at the video for "With Arms Wide Open" for how goofy it is to today's standards, but when it came out it was a crossover Number 1 song and video. They even started a foundation in association with the Hard Rock where proceeds went to various foundations.

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