“Celebrity Skin” by Hole (1998)

I’ve toggled back and forth on my rating of “Celebrity Skin” since…well, at least since we were in the “C”s. I think my final decision is that it belongs here with the rest of the songs that I consider perfect. It’s a kick ass three minute rock song with a killer guitar riff, a wink-smirk title¹ (which is not uttered once for the entire song) and Courtney Love’s unique vocalese. One thing I love about her singing (or at least I did during the time when I considered myself a fan of hers) is that it sounds debauched. Her public image hasn’t helped this, but even if she wasn’t a well-known shit show, songs like “Celebrity Skin” sound like drugs. Whereas the songs on Hole’s previous album, 1994’s Live Through This, sounded like cheap booze and smack, “Celebrity Skin” sounds like it’s been filtered through mounds of Jack and coke–no, not Coca-Cola; cocaine. Lines like “when I wake up/In my makeup/It’s too early for that dress” almost make me feel hung over. Give credit to Courtney (and the song’s co-writer Billy Corgan) for perfectly marrying punk rock aggression with pop sheen here.

¹-Celebrity Skin was the name of an ’80s-’90s porno mag that primarily trafficked in (as you might surmise from the title) pics of nude or semi-nude famous people (and were often grainy screen caps from TV or movie appearances).

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