Monday, January 07, 2008

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #40 - Bouffant Headbutt by Shampoo

Claire: In the way that a far more tedious list than this (hi Toby!) would obsess over such boring things as lineage and creative debts, the only thing we probably will care about in this list is the origins of the phrase "Girl Power". Girlfriend said it in 1992, Helen Love said it 1993, and of course, the sensational Spice Girls put it on a T-shirt in 1996 and trademarked until the second Geri left (at which point, they trademarked Lame Power, but that's another argument). However, the true holders of Girl Power, with a song with the same title, came from Plumstead and would smack you in the face if you tried to mention trademark or copyright issues. It's hard to imagine someone making a line of crisps with these girls on the packet - in the best possible way, this entry is dedicated to the Sex Pistols (after all, just as "contrived") of bubblegum, a band who would never engage in bonding sessions on Channel 5.

Shampoo, the creative sneering creation of Jacqui and Carrie, lived entirely in their own world, and are in many ways the single greatest pop band in the history of the word. Unapolagetically trashy, rude, and desirous of your very heart to burn, they are also fantastically funny, witty, bratty and entertaining on and off record. Of course, there is an act at the heart of it all, but as they gloriously slaughter everything that is sacred in mid 90s Britain in a far more insightful and genuine way than Blur ever did. Long before Avril Lavigne, Shampoo were doing trashy bubblegum pop punk and making an album called "We Are Shampoo" which is unstopabbly perfect. That this is a cruel world, such genius and such dedication to NOT being a two dimensional easy to pin down dumb bimbo while still bringing the wonderful tunes and changing their mind mid interview on which bands they liked group meant they were never the world straddling band they should have been. In the best possible way, Shampoo were kitsch, plastic and oh so very mighty.

Just ask them, they'd tell you. Is that not inspirational?

Bouffant Headbutt, often listed as the girls debut release (no one seems to remember Blisters and Bruises) and of all things released on an independent label set up by St Etienne, would be on here simply of the strength of being a Shampoo song from the mid 90s even before the greatest chorus of all time kicks in ("When we get you outside/your fucking dead" - who can't appreciate that?). Chanted over and over again like a spell, it was no surprise that the film clip featured a shot of a Barbie doll with a firework up it's arse. In fact, in a wonderful piece of lineage, in the 1960s, on the (actually fantastic) song "Nobody Taught Me" by Barbie and Ken, Barbie sings of the virtue of learning how to "sew and cook". It's unlikely anyone dared try and teach Shampoo the same girly virtues. There is not a single second of "Bouffant Headbutt" that isn't absolute perfection, as guitars chime, vocals chant, and the seconds tick by until some unfortunate baby girl or bastard male gets a "platform in the face".

And the world seems a better place in the cab home. They should have statues built to them...


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