|Promotional single by Garbage from the album Garbage|
|Recorded||1994 - 1995
|Label||Almo Sounds (North America)|
"Supervixen" is a 1995 song written, recorded and produced by alternative rock group Garbage, and was the opening track of the band's self-titled debut album. "Supervixen" was titled after Russ Meyer's 1975 violent love-triangle movie Supervixens.
In North America, "Supervixen" was released as an airplay-only single to alternative radio in October 1996. At the time, "Stupid Girl" was still charting highly on the Hot 100, and the band's debut album had been certified platinum by the RIAA for shipping a million units within the United States.
"Supervixen" was written by Garbage in 1994 during sessions between band members Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, Shirley Manson and Steve Marker at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison session musician Mike Kashou performed bass guitar on "Supervixen". Manson fought with the rest of the band over a rap-lite vocal she had ad-libbed in the recording booth ("Now I want it too much, now I wanted to stop, now I'm lucky like a falling star fell over me") that she was particularly fond of. She won out, and the part was looped as a backing vocal towards the end of the song. Another part ("yeah, you worry too much, now it's got to be stopped") did not.
Much of the song was built around repeated silences peppered throughout the instrumental sections. The idea for the silences came when the tracking tape kept slipping during mixing. The band had looped a sustained guitar part consisting of two separate pitch-shifted guitar lines but their tape machine's playback function was faulty - parking instead of synching up both ends of the loop seamlessly. The band liked the way the effect had sounded, even though it originated from an unintentional hardware fault: "Basically it goes to dead air, and in a way it's just silence, but that also becomes a hook", Vig later commented. The effect was utilized by the band throughout the structure of "Supervixen", with some of the sections featuring other elements continuing through the deliberate pauses. To achieve this, the band had to make use of extensive muting to keep the final mix tight. Masterdisk's Scott Hull digitally removed the muted sections during the mastering of "Supervixen" to emphasize the silences.
Lyrically, Manson stated that "Supervixen" "is all about saying 'idolise me, I'm going to give you everything you want, but you have to do something in return'. It's a bargaining song about a relationship. I'm not saying "I'm a wee Scottish lass fae Edinburgh and I'm great". It's actually about this supervixen, this Russ Meyer-type woman." Vig and Manson declared that the song's controlling tone is tongue-in-cheek, but Vig made sure to point out that during the live performances Manson's domination "[was] also kind of becoming real every night."
A slightly shortened (mostly in the middle 8 section) radio edit of "Supervixen" was sent to Modern Rock format radio stations in October 1996 to bridge the gap between "Stupid Girl"'s run at alternative, and the scheduled release of "Milk", the last single from their debut album. It was playlisted by KROQ-FM, "Supervixen" did not register a place on any Billboard charts; Almo Sounds quickly released "Milk" to alternative and CHR, while "#1 Crush" began picking up airplay following its release on Capitol's Romeo + Juliet soundtrack.
Supervixen" received a largely positive response from music critics, many of whom chose to single out the track in their reviews of the Garbage album. The Jewish Chronicle wrote "from the staccato riff that dominates "Supervixen" the scene is set - Eurythmics meets Patti Smith in some Grungy nightclub where bitchy back-biting is the name of the game." Hot Press reviewer Jackie Hayden wrote "The sound drop outs should act as a warning to be on your guard". Kerrang!'s Paul Rees described the song as "a whirlpool of clattering synth stabs that break of in shattered shards", while Paul Yates of Q magazine said that "Garbage's signature lies in songs like "Supervixen", good pop tunes dealt a rough treatment and brazen vocals". Jamie T. Conway, of Ikon, gave a negative review for the album but described "Supervixen" as Pixies-lite and a "strangely appealing" exception. Rolling Stone wrote, "Immediately, as the mangy riffs of "Supervixen" begin to chum through space, Garbage drags you someplace else. As Manson's violet throatiness offers to create "a whole new religion," beats chatter, and delicate acoustic guitar notes and those opening riffs float in and out of the songs gently pounding rhythmic foundations. At times the main riff pauses to halt the music altogether." 
Peter Murphy of Hot Press wrote of "Supervixen" in his biography for 2007's Absolute Garbage sleeve-notes: "The song used silence in a way I'd never heard before. When the music stopped, it wasn't a pause for effect. There was no residual cymbal swish or reverberation or amp hum. That silence was total. It meant business. It was a sort of black hole implosion into which you feared your soul might be sucked."
Credits and Personnel
- McLean, Craig (29 April 2012). "Shirley Manson interview: Breaking up the garbage girl". The Observer. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Dinello, Dan (1995-12-01). "Pop And All That Junk". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on 2001-02-12. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- Watson, Rob. ""Supervixen" US CD". Garbage-Discography.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Supervixen impacting Modern Rock radio. USA: Hits. 1996-10-01. "Supervixen is now playing on KROQ"
- "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-07-16. "GARBAGE; GARBAGE; August 15, 1995; certified July 30, 1996; ALMO SOUNDS; PLATINUM ALBUM"
- Malins, Steve (1996-09-01). "What's Our Problem?". Q (Detroit, Michigan): 50–53.
- "Garbage (CD, Album)". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-07-27. "Credits; Bass – Mike Kashou (tracks: 1 to 3, 5, 8, 12)"
- Kaufman, Gil (1995). "Garbage Rise From The House That Grunge Built". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on 2000-12-08. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
- Shirley Manson (1994). Thanks For the Uhhh, Support (DVD). Warner Music Video/UMe.
- Buskin, Richard (1997-03-01). "BUTCH VIG: Nevermind The Garbage". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
- Vig, Butch. "Supervixen". GearSlutz Q&A. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
- "Modern Life Is Rubbish". The Face. 1996-09-01. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Gardner, Elysa (December 17, 1995). "POP MUSIC : Beyond the Pail : How to turn Garbage into gold". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- Watson, Rob. ""Queer" Spain CD2". Garbage-Discography.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- "Listings for Oct 1996 Modern Rock Radio". Promoonly.com. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- "Single Chart History: Garbage". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Garbage album review. The Jewish Chronicle. 1995-09-30.
- Hinden, Jackie (1995-09-23). Dump It Up. Ireland: Hot Press.
- Rees, Paul (1995-09-29). Sweet, Litter and Twisted. Kerrang!.
- Yates, Paul (1995-11-01). Albums: Garbage. Q.
- Conway, Jamie T. (1995-11-01). Garbage album review. Ikon.
- Hunter, James (21 September 1995). "Garbage Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- Absolute Garbage biography (Retrieved - 2008-02-04)
- Garbage official website
- "Supervixen" lyrics at the Wayback Machine (archived October 8, 2007)
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics