Hail to the Thief suddenly has all kinds of new meaning.
Radiohead has a burgeoning beef with Prince over the Purple One’s refusal to allow fan video recordings of his cover of the alt-rockers’ seminal 1992 hit, “Creep,” to be shown on YouTube.
Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke tells the Associated Press that he has no problems with Prince’s label, NPG Records, taking down clips of the artist performing his own tunes because of copyright concerns.
But when it comes to Prince’s version of “Creep,” Yorke says he and his mates are ticked not only because they didn’t get to see the acclaimed rendition but also because it’s their song.
“Really? He’s blocked it?” asked a surprised Yorke. “Surely, we should block it. Hang on a moment…well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our…song.”
Prince unleashed his retooled take on “Creep” while headlining last month’s Coachella festival.
Fan-recorded cell phone videos soon flooded YouTube but were quickly yanked after NPG unleashed cease-and-desist letters. The Minneapolis-based Prince is known to be extremely protective of how his image and music are disseminated online.
Radiohead, on the other hand, takes a less restrictive approach.
The band offered a digital version of its latest album, In Rainbows, for whatever listeners chose to pay for it, even if it was nothing.
And Radiohead often encourages devotees to become more interactive with the band’s music, for instance releasing the single “Nude” in a format that allowed amateur and professional mixers to create their own mash-ups. No surprises either that Radiohead also has its own popular YouTube channel.
While Prince was one of the first artists to embrace digital distribution, offering his 1997 four-CD set, Crystal Ball, for sale online, he is adamant about keeping control of his content.
After announcing earlier this year that he planned to sue YouTube, eBay and fansites for posting music and videos without permission, he faced a huge backlash.
In a bid to placate peeved fans, Prince’s camp has since eased off the legal threats and attempted to work out a compromise.
There was no immediate comment from Prince on Radiohead’s remarks.
Meanwhile, we can sit back and wait for the band to cover “Let’s Go Crazy” for YouTube.