Courtney Love once swore that if I lived through this with her, she would die for me. And I believed her. Because when it’s 1994 and you’re an ugly 13-year-old girl with braces and glasses but no friends, and you hate school and your parents and everything else in this fucked-up world, following Courtney down the rabbit hole of rock excess sure beats getting stoned listening to Phish or scouring YM for boy-snatching tips like all the other girls in your class.
But now it’s 10 years later, and we’ve both lived through our respective dark periods (well, I know I have). I still believe Courtney Love would die for the surly adolescent inside me who refuses to go away. She’s willing to act out the dream of every teenage brat who ever wanted to have a glamorous, high-profile hissyfit, and she turns those egocentric nervous breakdowns into art. Sure, the art becomes less compelling when you’ve been pulling the same stunts for a decade. But, honestly, is there anybody out there who fucks up better?
America’s Sweetheart is one big, juicy fuckup, and fortunately for Courtney, there will always be little girls who hate being little girls, and are looking for a fairy godmother to show them how to self-destruct. Unfortunately, Karen O, Brody Dalle, and Amy Lee all made cooler records than Sweetheart, and none thanked “Kirsty Ally & the Church of Scientology for helping me not allow myself to be a doormat” in their liner notes.
If Courtney manages to get the attention of today’s angst-ridden youth, they’ll find that her solo debut has much to offer re rousing girl-power anthems, tasty revenge fantasies, and lusty odes to sex, drugs, and r ‘n’ r, all slathered in pink, candy-coated production, the edge gone from everything save Courtney’s feral wail (which sounds as fierce and strong as ever). There are three power ballads safe enough to play when Mom’s snooping around your room; you can distract her while hiding your stash by telling her that the one that sounds like Whitesnake was co-written by Elton John’s partner. And if she laughs and asks you how Courtney Love could possibly be relevant to a teenage girl in 2004, remind her that Frances Bean turns 12 in August.
Joshua Clover reviews the Original Promo Version of Courtney Love’s America’s Sweetheart
Joshua Clover on What Was Lost Between Versions