This Beavis and Butt-Head clip is the most perfect critique of 90s alt. rock ever made

A screengrab of Beavis and Butthead talking on a sofa
(Image credit: YouTube)

One of the hardest things about being a music journalist is the need to be succinct. Sometimes you just want to prattle on until the world has run out of pages, and trees from which to make them, about a band or a record you love, but you cannot because your uncaring editor has given you a 100 word count to sum up their/its genius.

All hail Beavis and Butt-Head, then, two animated dorks whose wisdom you may have been underrating, because in a few handfuls of words they can pretty much nail the appeal, or lack of appeal, of every band and well-known song from the '90s. Often with the brutally simple judgement "This sucks."

The clip below, in which our heroes offer their thoughts on Radiohead's Creep, is, perhaps, the apogee of their devastating wit and wisdom.

The clue that something special is about to unfold here is the way that Beavis (blonde hair, Metallica T-shirt) looks expectantly at Butt-Head (Brown hair, AC/DC T-shirt, James Hetfield-esque hur-hur) as the song opens with gently rippling guitar arpeggios.

"What is this?" Butt-Head asks, confused, wondering why Beavis is looking so smug.

"Don’t worry Butt-Head," Beavis assures his pal, "it gets cool in a minute."

"It better start rocking, or I'll really give him something to cry about," Butt-Head moans.

"Shut up... here it comes," says Beavis, hushing him. 


That, friends, is the sound of Jonny Greenwood thumping out the dirty, ugly, jarring guitar slash at the heart of the song - "the sound of Jonny trying to fuck the song up" as fellow guitarist Ed O'Brien later revealed, as Greenwood initially hated Creep - after which Beavis and Butt-Head erupt into paroxysms of unfettered ecstasy.

"Rock! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" squeals Beavis.

The return to a more measured approach somewhat kills the vibe.

"How come they just don't play that cool part through the whole song?" Beavis muses.

The next line, an efficiently brutal takedown of what made rock songs in the 90s so exciting, is this:

“Well Beavis, if they didn't have like a part of the song that sucked, then it's like, the other part wouldn't be as cool". 

It hurts because it’s true. And now that you know it’s true, you also realise that quiet-loud-quiet basically means boring-exciting-boring, doesn’t it?

Come on, no-one is waiting for the quiet bits, unless you’re talking about the really quiet bit in Bullet With Butterfly Wings, but you’re only waiting for that because it gets really loud again straight after. “Oh no, actually Polly is my favourite song off Nevermind, actually” – no, you’re wrong, it’s your favourite song because it’s immediately followed by the crazed noisefest Territorial Pissings. Just give into it – once you accept you’re only putting up with Trent Reznor pissing around for the first two minutes of Nine Inch NailsEraser because you love it when those chainsaw guitars kick in, everything in your life will make more sense.

And come to think of it, “Well Beavis, if they didn't have like a part of the song that sucked, then it's like, the other part wouldn't be as cool" could just as easily be applied to all aspects of life and not just 90s rock tunes. You just need to change "song" for “my child’s school assembly” or “a walk with the in-laws”. 

There's just time for one more nugget from the duo, absolutely nailing the whole alt. rock aesthetic.

"Repeat after me, I am somebody."


You’ve got Beavis and Butthead, two deep-thinkers way ahead of their time, to thank for all this wisdom. Truly, we're not worthy. Oh, wait, that was another pair of metal-loving dorks. But you get the drift.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.