The story of girl groups

I går talte vi her om Debbie Harry og Blondie, hvis bedste musik groupsskylder ikke så lidt til den amerikanske girl group-tradition fra 60’erne. Pitchfork har lige her her lavet en interessant gennemgang af hele fænomenet fra dengang til nu, gennem en dissekering af hele 45 ifølge dem essentielle girl group-sange. Som appetizer her deres gennemgang af The Crystals’ kontroverseielle og ikke så lidt problematiske ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’…

The Crystals – “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)” – 1962

The Crystals recorded their first hit single, “There’s No Other (Like My Baby),” in prom dresses, having come to the studio directly from that high school dance; a year later, they’d entered the canon of the deeply problematic. “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)” is a fucked-up song, and everyone involved—save, perhaps, homicidal producer Phil Spector—knew it. Husband/wife songwriting duo Carole King and Gerry Goffin had been inspired by a babysitter who’d shown up bruised but still smitten, translating her boyfriend’s abuse as an expression of love. The song flopped tremendously; magazines refused to advertise it, DJs refused to play it. Later, King and Crystals lead singer Barbara Alston both disowned it.

To say “He Hit Me” was too dark for its time feels insufficient; the song is too dark for any point in pop music, present day included. It is anti-pop. But it is that uncomfortable nature—the contradictions at play between Alston’s naive voice, the sickeningly matter-of-fact lyrics, and Spector’s swelling funeral march—that makes it so persistently relevant. Many have dismissed the song for glorifying abuse, but that isn’t quite it; whether or not its creators intended it, “He Hit Me” is a representation of the profoundly complicated and screwed-up realities of womanhood. More recently, pop stars who wallow in these same contradictions have made the song their own: Hole performed it on “MTV Unplugged,” and Lana Del Rey interpolated it in the lyrics of 2014’s “Ultraviolence.” In a 2007 interview, Amy Winehouse spoke of the song with grim empathy: “Most people’d be like, ‘How dare you promote domestic violence!’ But to me, I’m like, ‘I know what you mean. I know exactly what you mean.’” –Meaghan Garvey

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