13 May 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 32 - Voodoo Queens - Supermodel Superficial


Who: Voodoo Queens
What: Supermodel Superficial (b/w "Chocolate (Melt in Your Mouth)")
Label: Too Pure
When: 1993
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Cost: 50p

"Whose role models do you really think you are?/ YOUNG GIRLS WHO MAKE THEMSELVES SICK!!!"

For the brief period of time that the Riot Grrrl movement in Britain hit the mainstream press (and it could probably be measured as being a matter of two or three months) it was really Huggy Bear and the Voodoo Queens who dominated most of the headlines. The former refused to talk to the press, and released radical feminist fanzines in order to get their points across. The latter, on the other hand, spoke to Smash Hits, seemed happy to be courted by the NME, and released songs about fancying Keanu Reeves. A slight difference of technique to get the message across then - I've sometimes contemplated whether or not they had some kind of running bet in operation with each other.

"Supermodel Superficial" is obviously a very aggressive, clattering swipe at the Kate Mosses of this world, and I've never been able to make up my mind whether it's particularly worthy lyrically or not. It's easy to blame the models themselves for creating a culture obsessed with leanness and trimness, but one can't help but wonder if the fashion industry itself, or even the editors of glamour and gossip magazines, would have been far better targets. Models don't really peddle propaganda, they just stand to one side pouting a bit whilst decisions are made behind their backs. In fact, given the overwhelming encouragement of diets and drug use amongst the fashion industry, it's almost tempting to argue that they are also unwilling victims in the entire mess, having usually been naive teenage girls placed in a preposterous and potentially damaging environment. The ones who go on to make huge money in the business may be worthy of the odd sideswipe, but - to coin a cliche - if Kate Moss didn't do it, another skinny blonde girl from Croydon almost certainly would.

That said, the Voodoo Queens apparently frequently complained that nobody ever focussed on the music whilst they were around, and it's safe to say that this is a mean little single in terms of punk riffage, filled with menacing guitar riffs, a brilliantly dischordant guitar solo, and an energy which sounds so spontaneous that I can only assume it was a one-take wonder. Therefore, I've always been prepared to overlook the slightly simplistic politics in order to bounce around merrily to the general hissiness of the entire thing.

The B-side "Chocolate (Melt in Your Mouth)" takes blissed out, almost shoegazey melodic turns, and is a quite unexpected yin to the A-side's yang. In all, then... worthy of a listen, I think, and by no means a waste of this week's fifty pence piece.

Download it here


Cocktails said...

oooh, haven't heard that song in a while. I used to play it quite a lot once upon a time...

I think that the Voodoo Queens were ahead of their time in a way. To me, the song is more about how young girls don't need to aspire to be something as crap as a supermodel, rather than being a serious attack on the models themselves. Sadly the aspirations of teenagers seem lower now than they were in the early 90s.

Did you see the article Everett True wrote a year or two ago in the now sadly defunct Plan B magazine about how HUGE and influential the Riot Grrrl scene was? I don't think I particularly noticed this at the time other than those couple of singles by Huggy Bear, Voodoo Queens and Bikini Kill. Did I miss something there do you think?!

23 Daves said...

Not necessarily, but I think the amount of women who picked up guitars (and other musicial instruments) after Riot Grrrl is evidence that the movement had some kind of impact. I've met numerous women since who said that Riot Grrrl inspired them to join bands where previously they'd held back from involvement.

I didn't see True's article on this, actually - I'd be quite interested to read it.

Cocktails said...

I just unearthed the article only to discover although it is True's magazine, he didn't actually write the article - he was interviewed in it! The piece is only 4 pages but still pretty interesting

I don't have a scanner, but can photocopy and post it to you easily if you're interested. Just email me from my site. It really is no problem.