Creed at 15: Pretty Tolerable Without Music Videos
|Clockwise, from upper left: "One Last Breath," "Take Me Higher," "My Sacrifice," and "What If."|
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