Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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OMGWTFLOL: Alvin & the Chipmunks – “Good Girls Don’t” (1980)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 31, 2007

You could’ve swore you thought you heard ’em sayin’…

All right, so I wrote about Alvin, Simon & Theodore pretty recently, but given the general frenzy bound to sweep the states with their movie’s release (or ‘Munkmania, as I like to call it), I figure I gotta get it all in when I can. Anyway, I’ve been curious about their slightly infamous Chipmunk Punk collection for some time now, mostly because in my head I was still picturing an album of Dead Kennedys and Sham 69 covers (I actually think the boys could’ve done a damn good “(There’s Gonna Be A) Borstal Breakout” if they were just willing to dig a little deeper). Unfortunately, the closest the Chipmunks get to actual punk is their cover of “Good Girls Don’t”.

Truth told, The Knack’s original “Good Girls Don’t” was pretty OMGWTFLOL in its own right. It’s doubtful that it ever would’ve even dented the charts had previous single “My Sharona” not been such a cultural typhoon of power-pop–six weeks at #1 at the very height of the disco era, the top song for the 1979 calendar year. Some may have wanted to Nuke ’em, but the rest of the world couldn’t get enough, and so “Good Girls Don’t” was able to make it all the way to #11–despite containing some of the dirtiest lyrics ever heard in pop music to that point.

See, by nature, power-pop is a very innocent genre. It’s a horny one, sure–god knows The Raspberries were more than a little preoccupied with being with you so they could go all the way with you tonight, but they sang about in such a sweet, good-natured way that their hits just sounded like a more realistic way to talk about teenage love and loneliness–nothing you’d have to turn down in front of your parents. Not so with “Good Girls Don’t,” which despite containing some pretty chords and some very nice harmonica, contains explicit references to oral sex, third-base makeouts and just sluttiness in general. Combined with later hit (err, semi-hit) “Baby Talks Dirty” and rumors about the underage inspiration behind “My Sharona,” The Knack’s career practically pushes Gary Glitter territory.

So the Chipmunks, then. First off, turns out that power-pop is a pretty lousy base genre when it comes to Chipmunkizaiton. Nothing really changes about the song except for the vocal (side note: did this album’s creators actually have to go through the process of covering these songs to have soundalikes for the Munks to squeak over? If so, did anyone ever list “played bass on Chipmunk Punk” on their resume?), whose high-pitchedness just sounds ridiculous and unintelligible over the relatively sedate instrumental backing. In any event, Alvin & Co. aren’t winning any Battle of the Bands contests anytime soon.

But you don’t care about this. What you want to know, if you’ve ever heard the song before, is if certain lyrics–one line in particular–have been altered from their original version. And the answer is no, no they haven’t. And by no they haven’t, I mean of course they fucking have–if the words “’til she’s sitting on your face” had ever come out of Alvin’s mouth, or from someone else’s Alvinized mouth, it would have incited revolutions that you and I would almost certainly have already read about in 10th grade History. Just what they change it to is sort of unclear, but I think it’s “’til she’s sitting in your place” (and “wishing you could get inside her pants” has predictably been changed to “get another chance”). Oh well.

In a way, I guess you could consider Chipmunk Punk (and its brother album, the not quite so cutting edge Chipmunk Rock) to be slightly ahead of its time, given the recent Kidz Bop craze, which has caused similar confusion as to how tricky subject matters as the “just want to make you cumma” part in “Hey Ya!” and the general lyrical weirdness of “Float On” should be treated (answers: cut out the part entirely and just add “YEAH!” after every line, respectively). You could say it destroys the soul of the originals, but think of how much it’ll blow the minds of kids raised on this stuff when they eventually hear the originals. It’ll be like the first time I saw Major League on Cinemax after growing up with the basic-cable version.


One Response to “OMGWTFLOL: Alvin & the Chipmunks – “Good Girls Don’t” (1980)”

  1. Eric Melin said

    This is hilarious. We used to cover this song in Ultimate Fakebook, and the lyrics were enough to make our lead singer blush. You know that somewhere in an anonymous editing room, handed down from engineer to engineer, there exists a version with Alvin singing the dirty lyrics: “sticky sweet romance” and “you’re hoping that she’ll give you some tonight”

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