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on April 27, 2004
Courtney Love said in an interview she believed this album was a masterwork. That wasn't an empty boast, I believe she's right. These songs have great polish and technical maturity. Yes it's popy rock so some punk rockers will hate it. But I love punk and I love this album, so shoot me. "Live Thru This" was great too. As everyone knows, Courtney is the widow of deceased grunge god, Kurt Cobain. She and guitarist Eric Erlandson are the primary creative drive which has catupulted this group to the top of Stardom Mountain, if we can call fame a place. Hole has learned to walk that fine line between pop and rock called power pop, so they've adjusted themselves to mainstream popular taste, at least with this "Celebrity Skin" album, much to the chagrin of more hardcore fans who preferred her ranting first album better. Courtney has a good voice, but she still doesn't feel comfprtable singing in a popy conventional way where vocal phrasing is concerned, but that's fine with me, I think it usually sounds effective. People who say she can't sing need to open their mind up a bit more.
David Rehak
author of "A Young Girl's Crimes"
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on March 20, 2004
This, Hole's third CD, has more emphasis on accessible, pop music songs than does their second CD, previous to this one,Live Through This. Instead of the screaming grunge of Live Through This, most of the songs on this CD although they display lyrics as complex as ever are musically a world away from the band's prior work. All but a few of the songs on this CD I like and since these and all the rest of the songs are good it is hard to choose my favorite. My favorite song though would probably be ''Boys on the radio'' this loud and noisy but melodic song of melancholy ambiguity could be about any number of things, which is certainly the hallmark of any good song. Another favorite song of mine is the quiet gentle ''Dying'' with the hypnotic whisper of Courtney Love at the begining of the track ''I've had it all forever, I've had enough''. The title song ''Celebrity Skin'' about fading ''somewhere in Hollywood'' has powerful lyrics that stay with you and catchy music. Another song I like is the more grunge ''Playing your song'' about naive appreciation after the fact ''You trusted everything-they sold you out''. ''Northern Star'' is a bleak powerful song which is generally interpreted to refer at least a little to Kurt Cobain. The complex ornate ''Petals'' and the lovely very grunge, ''Use once and destroy'' are both standout songs. If you like this kind of music, this is a CD that you can listen to again and again and still find new meaning in.
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on February 6, 2004
When I first bought this CD, I was so disappointed. I guess maybe it was because I was used to the grungey sound of Live Through This. I knew this CD was going to be more poppy but I didn't know it would be so poppy. Songs like 'Hit So Hard', 'Malibu', 'Boys On the Radio', and 'Heaven Tonight' really turned me off at first. They were so poppy they almost sounded like Avril Lavigne songs (and I really hate Avril Lavigne). Still though, I gave it a chance. It wasn't on heavy rotation in my CD player and every time I thought I was getting into it, I'd listen to Live Through This again and change my mind. After ignoring it for a couple of months I took it out again. And you know what? It's actually pretty good. It stands well on its own. There are some really good songs on Celebrity Skin. The title track is fun with its infectious riff and clever poking fun at Hollywood lyrics. 'Awful' is a fun summer pop-rock song that sounds like the Go-Go's with a sassy edge. The lyrics address the music industry and the issue of selling out (I was punk/now I'm just stupid/I'm so awful). 'Dying' is beautiful, it reminds me a little of 'Miss World'. 'Reasons To Be Beautiful', 'Use Once & Destroy', and 'Playing Your Song' all have resemblance of how Hole used to sound. 'Northern Star' is a lovely folk-pop-rock ballad which sounds like a Stevie Nicks song. Overall it's not the masterpiece Live Through This was but it's still good. Courtney sort of lost her edge here, which did sadden me a bit. But then again, I guess artists have to evolve. Besides in 1998 grunge and riot grrrl were long since dead (both styles of which influenced Hole's eariler albums). Artistic evolution or selling out? You be the judge.
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on February 5, 2004
Unlike Hole's past releases, 1998's "Celebrity Skin" is an album with pop and folk appeal. The CD marked a period when a drug-free Courtney Love traded her unkempt babydoll rags for diamonds and couture gowns. At about the same time, the depressing Grunge movement had run its course, and savvy buyers were eager for something fun and uplifting. Although hardcore rock fans may scoff at "Celebrity's Skin's" glossy guitars and starlight acoustics, it's still an excellent recording that came out at just the right time.
Because Courtney had to struggle hard to avoid more tabloid scandal, most of her songs are bittersweet in nature. The album's single, "Celebrity Skin," unveils a thin layer of dirt beneath the glamour and glitz of Hollywood stardom. In "Awful," the sarcastic frontwoman makes everyone aware of her former reign as the Queen of Grunge. "Hit So Hard," a track that seems to focus on an abusive relationship, twinkles with a tambourine and a kiss of psychedelia. The tortured "Reasons to be Beautiful" attacks the slick images of fashion magazines, which force women to be flawless just to get a man's attention. The churning bass and drum rhythms of "Use Once & Destroy" resemble a factory's assembly line. This particular song is set in a cold, empty world of machines and bar codes. The record's other single, "Malibu," lets listeners escape into audio euphoria with images of palm trees and sand castles. "Dying," "Northern Star," and "Playing Your Song" were composed at a time when Courtney came to terms with her husband's suicide. With poetic images of frozen angels and tearful vigils, her lyrics express the anger she felt when Kurt Cobain, overwhelmed at how many fans embraced his misery, threw his life away as Nirvana sold millions of records. Courtney was also quite aware that her marriage to Kurt was unhealthy, since both stars fully embraced the highs and lows of herion addiction.
I can only recommend "Celebrity Skin" to the more open-minded listeners. Anyone who enjoys hearing a rock band's natural progression can savor this album's magic. Loyal punk fans, on the other hand, will need to avoid it.
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on October 19, 2003
Celebrity Skin is the final chapter of the Hole story. It is as different from Live Through This (their 1994 effort that was named Album of the Year by many critics) as Live Through This is from their debut, Pretty On The Inside. Hole has now abandoned the quasi-punk/grunge sound for what Courtney refers to as "power pop." I found it shocking and at first was very, very disappointed - some songs here, particularly Awful, sound like the Go-Gos with guitars. The only song on this album that bears a vague similarity to the Courtney I'd come to love is Playing Your Song - that roar of "I had to them you were GOOOONE!!" is the "Go on, take everything!" Courtney I crave. And it was so disillusioning to find that the mid-tempo Boys on the Radio is what has become of the haunting Sugar Coma ballad that Courtney played on the Mtv Unplugged special in 1995. This was the wrong Hole. I thought Courtney had sold out.
But then something happened to change my mind ... Courtney in a leather miniskirt at the Seattle Key Arena on March 3, 1999, performing in the infamous Man/Hole concert tour (the short-lived, and bizarre, pairing of Marilyn Manson and Hole). Standing only 10 feet from her as she slithered, swayed, and screamed, is an experience I'm not soon to forget. I had never seen such a beautiful woman convey such powerhouse rage, a runway model with a vendetta. She was like an apparition, an archetype from Greek mythology, something from another world. Courtney brought these songs to life, in a way they were not when cranked on CD player. The supposed power pop of Celebrity Skin had real rock. Now when I listen to Celebrity Skin I am reminded of Courtney's live performance, reminded of how beautiful Seattle is, reminded of how awesome it was to walk out of the arena and look up to see the Space Needle illuminate the night. I now love Celebrity Skin.
I suppose the moral of the story is to give Celebrity Skin a chance. At first it may be a bit of a disappointment to fans of the first two Hole efforts. But judged on its own, it's actually a pretty darn good album.
Andrew Parodi
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on August 12, 2003
So, this may not be "Live Through This Part 2" but it is still good. The songs are cute, beautiful, painful, and are pop. Good pop, like Fleetwood Mac and Beatles pop. I know the issue of Hole selling out has been addressed in many reviews, but I will bring it up again. Many people think that because a band changes their sound or create a CD that's totally different from their last, the band's sold out. If that were the case then "Live Through This" would be Hole's sell out record. Hole have a very wide variety of influences, all of which are shown in each of their records. "Pretty on the Inside" was inspired by punk, "Live Through This" was inspired by grunge, and "Celebrity Skin" was inspired by pop. Hole seems to get bored with having just one sound, so they change every record and that's refreshing, because most bands anymore keep one sound their entire career and the music gets stale.
Billy Corgan played a big part in the album's creation, the most pop oriented songs seem to be the ones he's laid his fingers on, like "Petals" and "Malibu", but Hole came up with some of the best songs by themselves, like "Playing Your Song", "Awful", "Boys on the Radio", and "Northern Star".
If you're looking for a pop/rock album with venom lining each guitar chord, "Celebrity Skin" is the album to get. It works wonders on teenage angst ("Reasons to be Beautiful") and is just begging to be added to your collection.
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on July 17, 2003
I remember purchasing this album on one rushed listen simply based on my love for Live Through This, which stands (Cobain-influenced or not) as this band's crowning acheivement. This, however... well, what went wrong? On first few listens it's appealing, catchy as hell, and in spots a bit grungy. But give it time and you realize half of the songs are tissue-thin girly pop that doesn't hold up over time. Love's voice, which though nasaly at least had edge to it on Live Through This, seems so forced and fake here that it's hard sometimes to contain your laughter. Only a few songs (Celebrity Skin, Reasons to be Beautiful, Northern Song) manage to hold some depth to them, and showcase the power and evocative qualities of her voice. Otherwise, there's absolute poppy garbage like "Awful," "Malibu," and the leader of them all, "Boys on the Radio," possibly the sappiest sounding song ever penned. Granted, this is an easy album to like, but an impossible one to love. All surface, no feeling.
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on July 10, 2003
This album is probably going to [make fans mad] of the earlier, more spiky Hole. However, every Hole fan is going to enjoy and be amazed by this album. It appeals to everyone and it may even snare a different legion of fans because of it's poppy sound. It's overall a sweet album, full of harmonies and surprisingly happy lyrics. (Heaven Tonight, Malibu) There are several more melancholy moments (Petals, Dying, Northern Star) that express Love's grief over her late husband, Kurt Cobain and there is also one seething moment about the industy commercializing Cobain's death (Playing your song).
1. Celebrity Skin: I'm sure, by now, that everyone has heard this song. It's very upbeat, but Courtney still spews disdain on the Hollywood scene.
2. Awful: Very strange lyrics and a catchy sound. Courtney does a great job on this song, urging girls to run away and start riots, the Courtney of more grungier days, as far as lyrics go.
3. Hit So Hard. A surprisingly touching track. The guitars are practically dripping with honey and Courtney's voice is silky smooth. Very nice.
4. Malibu: When I first heard this track, my first impression was "There is no way this can be Courtney Love singing this." It still blows me away every time I hear it. It's so sweet. It does, however, create some interesting imagery.
5. Reasons To Be Beautiful: A lament for Mr. Cobain. Achingly desperate, "Miles and miles of perfect skin, I swear I do, I fit right in," this song is a bit rough around the edges, but nonetheless an essential track.
6. Dying: A beautiful, haunting ballad. Courtney seems to put a lot of feeling into this song and it seems dangerously personal.
7. Use Once and Destroy: A song about Ms. Love's past drug abuse. It's electronic and subtley spiteful. Genius.
8. Northern Star: Proabably the most beautiful song on the album. The lyrics are pure poetry and the music reminds one of a mexican ballad. Very painful and another personal track.
9. Boys On The Radio: A sweet song, rather desperate lyrics, nothing really stands out.
10. Heaven Tonight: I can only smile when I hear this one. A love song.
11. Playing Your Song: Spewing with venom, maliciousness and misery, this is sure to please fans of the earlier Hole.
12. Petals: One of my favorite tracks. Exquisitely beautiful, and altogether wistful, it's a track that everyone must listen to.
In conclusion, this is a Hole album that is to be respected and should defintely be in every music fan's collection.
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on May 13, 2003
On this album it seems we're seeing a band in transition, although I guess ultimately they were transitioning into non-existance. A lot of the songs here are all-out pop tunes with catchy choruses and jangly guitars, but Love seems determined to keep the album from being a HUGE sonic leap from "Live Through This" and there are some attempts at rockin' songs.
The pop songs ARE pretty catchy and fun, but the grungey rock tunes are total garbage. Interestingly, the album is arranged so that nearly all the odd songs are rockers and nearly all the even songs are the fun pop songs. Well, maybe that's not exactly true, but it seems like every song that has a catchy hook is immediately followed by an annoying, dirge-like attempt at rock. In particular, "Reasons to be Beautiful" and "Use Once and Destroy" are horribly boring.
Of course, another way to describe this album would be to call it a Smashing Pumpkins album with Courtney Love singing. That's basically what it is. I think Billy Corgan wrote a little more than half the album.
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on May 7, 2003
this is all one opinion
i have been a fan of courtney and hole from the beginning. pretty one the inside is masterpiece of spitcore youthism. everytime i slip that record in it reminds of what it is to have real rage and emotion in me ... live through this is probably my fave...for all the obvious reasons. i am a woman, and courtney struck every chord ive ever felt i wasnt liable to say (not saying i didnt) on that record.
ive read almost every biography on courtney and nirvana...and i think that for those people that think courtney killed or was affiliated with kurts death should take their heads out of their butts and take it for what it is. i am as big a fan of nirvana as to hole, if not more, and that is saying a lot. and yes, it broke my heart when kurt died, and i of course realized one of the few humans to ever live that knew what it is to be alive (ironically) has killed himself...and my life was over, as it was to millions. think about that, and how many people were affected by this. think about the repurcutions. then think about courtney and frances bean, who by every right felt this the hardest. she did this facing angry fans, cruel media and ignorant people, all the while trying to understand what the hell just happened. its enough to make anyone want to cry. its also enough for someone to re-assess their life, because everything they thought they knew is now a lie. so after thinking about that, and then listening to celebrity skin, decide if you want to call courtney love a sell-out. its not her job to keep ignorant people out there happy, and its not her job to justify what you all think of her. she is human too, and celebrity skin proves just how human she is. if you think she has sold out, just remember that she doesnt care. sell your slow processed opinions people, and buy yourself a clue
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