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Radiohead “Creep” Inspired By 1972 Song?

Radiohead “Creep” Inspired By 1972 Song?

Wondering how “ghost song” songwriting exercises turn into  hits?

Radiohead gave credit to the songwriter and song that inspired their hit “Creep”: Albert Hammond’s 1972 hit “The Air That I Breathe.”

Basically, Radiohead used Hammond’s song as their “ghost song” to create “Creep.”

So how do you use the comparison of the two songs to help you create your own “ghost song“?


Songwriting Tip
1  Where are they the most similar?

Melody in chorus? Melody in the verse? Intro licks or accompaniment?


2  Where does the melody line change to create a difference?

Map out the changes using the elevator method:

–  –  –  _ _ ^ ^

Mid-scale note, mid-scale note, mid-scale note, low note, low note, high note, high note.

Or just use your hand!  Extend it flat out in front of you, palm to the ground.  If first not mid-scale put your hand mid-way between your range of motion. As the song plays, go up and down as the notes change (sort of like the bouncing ball on the top of words we’d watch as a kid).

This will give you a feel of where the melody is moving.

Do it for both songs and record it while you do it. Now open open both and watch.


Radiohead “Creep”



Albert Hammond “The Air That I Breathe”



Songwriting Exercise: Ghost Songs

Now try it!

  • Pick a song you like
  • Write a new lyric for the entire song (each verse, chorus, bridge) as is
  • Now take the lyric and write new music (e.g., choose tempo, chords from a diff. song)
  • Take the new song and focus on it, rewriting as necessary


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