Song for the day

Song for the day 23/06/21: Shampoo, “Girl Power”

Half way through the week: it’s time to arm ourselves with knives*, guns** and girl power.

*given that this is 2021 where everything is Serious Business can I just add that I DON’T MEAN THIS LITERALLY

** or this

In yesterday’s Song For The Day post, I mentioned one of the websites I had built in the mid-90s, which was called Syllables Have No Discipline. Inspired by this, I’ve been perusing the files I managed to grab from the Wayback Machine, and have rediscovered my many delightful and slightly unhinged ramblings on the leading lights of the Britpop era. About Shampoo, I wrote this:

Shampoo, like all the greatest bands, seem to be violently despised by at least as many people as worship the taxis they throw up their kebabs in. Or probably not quite as many, if the population of Japan is anything to go by. Shampoo are of course the perfect pop concept – basically, Transvision Vamp with two Wendys, none of the ugly bloke in the background, no token ecological consciousness and many more brilliant tunes. It hardly matters that their records can barely limp to number 25 in the UK, for Jacqui and Carrie certainly DON’T CARE in the most spectacular manner possible, and besides, they have Japan to make their millions from. They may not be the most intelligent, sensitive and articulate role models that could be desired for the teenage girls of the world, but bloody hell! they’re far too much FUN for any of us to have to worry about that. Long may they provide the perfect screaming peroxide vodka-enhanced hotel-trashing antidote to the mind- numbingly dull likes of Cast and Ocean Colour Scene which will always be a blot on the pop landscape.’

(One of these days, I will go back and re-evaluate my youthful disdain for the worthier edge of the Britpop landscape such as the aforementioned Cast and OCS. But today is not that day.)

One of the pages on my site was called ‘The Delicious List’, after the earlier Shampoo song, and this contained a rundown of new tunes that I loved. Due to my move away from Australia and a regular internet connection at the end of 1996, I only managed four entries, and the second of which was for Shampoo’s latest single at the time, “Girl Power”.

Always a glittering joyride of screaming ‘teenage’ thrills, Shampoo’s best tune ever is “Girl Power”, which flushes PC down the loo like a non-biodegradable feminine hygiene product and screams about knives and guns in the catchiest manner possible. A pity that they’re only big in Japan, but then they are Sanrio characters come to life.

Some versions of the song dispense with the knives and guns line in an early example of ‘PC gone mad’, but in the video here you have the full glory of the girls shrieking about smashing your place up just for fun. It’s amazing how subversive it feels to listen to this in “just be kind” 2021 (which always comes with the subtext of “just be kind while letting everyone else be as rude to you as they like”). But perhaps more scarily, what feels really subversive is the opening line ‘I don’t wanna be a boy, I wanna be a girl’, in this era when the attack on girlhood is so severe that many are trying to opt out of it altogether. If only the young girls of today had icons like Jacqui and Carrie to bring them true girl power – the girl power that exists however you look, dress or behave – instead of the simpering, soft-porn pseudo-empowerment of current pop stars and Instagram influencers.

Shampoo proved that you can be glam, brash, silly, clever, dumb, uncouth or even, in fact, everything you damn well want to be, and still be a girl. The only requirement is being born female. How I would love it if they would reform and bring us further knife-wielding***, no-fucks-given pop glory as two monumentally pissed-off 40-something women (because I can attest from personal experience that being a 40-something woman, finally coming to grips with all the bullshit you’ve put up with over the years, and realising that it is still being flung at the young women of today, makes you VERY PISSED OFF INDEED).

Oh, and I never forgave the Spice Girls for stealing ‘girl power’. SHAMPOO 4EVER!

*** metaphorical knives only, of course

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