American Idol contestant Christian Guardino has an ache to his voice that few are able to harness and execute well. It’s this talent that secured the Long Island singer the second Top 14 vote of the evening with his rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” on the April 18 episode.
Videos by American Songwriter
The 1992 track is a difficult song to cover despite being a popular go-to song. Many struggle with leaving their own mark on the song, and they especially struggle with the famed high notes of frontman Thom Yorke yelling the lyrics, Run, run, run, run. But Guardino brought his powerhouse vocals to the performance and the ache from his own experiences. These factors helped him bring a new “wow” factor to the already high-emotion song.
Guardino was born with the degenerative disease Leber Congenital Amaurosis, which affects his vision. The singer said that it is inevitable he will go blind at some point due to the condition, but the progression has quickened in recent years. At some point, he was faced with a very real decision of losing his eyesight or receiving experimental treatment—both offering the fear of the unknown.
“I was so, so worried it was only gonna go darker, darker until I had nothing left,” he said.
The singer received experimental gene therapy to help with the progression of the disease, and the life-saving treatment allowed him to see things again that we take every day for granted: snowfall, the sunset, the moon, and stars.
Guardino has a spirit that won’t let him descend into darkness, however. It’s his fighting spirit and a deep understanding that he does belong here that led to his choice of “Creep.”
“I really relate to that song,” he said. “I feel every word of that song. When I hear that, ‘I don’t belong here,’ it makes me think ‘Hell yeah, I belong here.’”
Watch Christian Guardino’s riveting performance of Radiohead’s “Creep” below.
Photo Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless