Valley Girl (song)

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"Valley Girl"
Single by Frank Zappa and Moon Zappa
from the album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
B-side "No Not Now"
"Teen-Age Prostitute"
"You Are What You Is"
"Valley Girl (fade-out version)"
Released June 1982
Format 12"
Recorded 1982
Genre New wave, experimental rock, comedy rock
Length 4:59
Label Barking Pumpkin
Writer(s) Frank Zappa, Moon Zappa
Producer(s) Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa singles chronology
"Goblin Girl"
(1981)
"Valley Girl" (1982) "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou"
(1983)
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch track listing
"No Not Now"
(1)
"Valley Girl"
(2)
"I Come from Nowhere"
(3)

"Valley Girl" is a song by the musician Frank Zappa and his then 14-year-old daughter, Moon Unit Zappa. The song appeared on Zappa's 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch and was released as a single, becoming a top 40 hit.

Background[edit]

The track was a combination of a bass riff that Frank had composed, and a desire from Moon to work with her father. According to Zappa biographer Kelly Fisher Lowe, Frank woke up Moon in the middle of the night and took her to a studio in order to re-create conversations she had had with friends.[1] The lyrics were a deliberate attack on the slang and behaviour of stereotypical valley girls. Zappa stressed that it was not a happy song, and that he hated the San Fernando Valley, calling it "a most depressing place."[2] Moon supplied Frank with much of the content, speaking typical "Valley girl" or "Valspeak" phrases she heard at "parties, bar mitzvahs, and the Galleria".[3]

Musically, the song is one of the most atypical Zappa tunes because of how relatively "normal" it is compared to other compositions, and is played entirely in 4/4 with the exception of the 7/8 groove at the very end.

Commercial release[edit]

"Valley Girl" was picked up by KROQ-FM, who obtained an acetate disc before release. Zappa praised the station's original programming, but feared it would lead to others copying it, adding "I would hate for it to become another service, freeze-dried to other stations".[2] Moon was a regular listener to KROQ, and persuaded the station to play the track during an interview. There was an immediate response from the public, and the track began regular airplay.[4]

The song was Zappa's only top 40 single in the United States, peaking at #32 in the Billboard Hot 100, although he had charted hits in other parts of the world. The song was also included in the compilation album Strictly Commercial.

The single had varying B-sides. Two of them were from the same album as "Valley Girl:" "No Not Now" and "Teen-Age Prostitute." Another B-side was "You Are What You Is." One of the versions of the single had "Valley Girl" on both sides: the A-Side had the full version, while the B-Side had a fade-out version.

Cultural response[edit]

Though intended as a parody, the single popularized the Valley Girl stereotype nationwide.[5][6][7] Following the single's release, there was a significant increase in "Valspeak" slang usage, whether ironically spoken or not (not the least of which was the film, Valley Girl).

Zappa expressed concern that despite his rich body of music, he was seen as a "novelty" artist through songs like "Valley Girl" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow".[8] At the time of the single's release, Moon said "I am not a valley girl, but I guess that is my claim to fame".[3]

Charts[edit]

Song Chart Peak
position
"Valley Girl" Mainstream Rock 12[9]
Pop Singles 32[9]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Lowe 2007, p. 177.
  2. ^ a b Kozak, Roman (28 August 1982). "Zappa zaps European tours - Too Expensive, Violent". Billboard: 8,52. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Valley Girl: No Way Rocker's Daughter Talks Like the Record". The Palm Beach Post. AP. September 2, 1982. p. B12. 
  4. ^ Schinder, Scott; Schwartz, Andy (2008). Icons of Rock 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-313-33845-8. 
  5. ^ Demarest, Michael; Stanley, Alessandra (September 27, 1982). "Living: How Toe-dully Max Is Their Valley". Time Magazine. 
  6. ^ Donald; Kikisawa; Gaul; Holton (2004). "Language". In Goggans, DiFranco. The Pacific Region (Series: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-313-33043-8. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  7. ^ Moley; Muir; Phillips; Smith; Williamson (1985). "Update". Newsweek 106 (1-9): 8. (subscription required)
  8. ^ Lowe 2007, p. 178.
  9. ^ a b "Charts and Awards for Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
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