Celebrity Skin (song)

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"Celebrity Skin"
Single by Hole
from the album Celebrity Skin
  • "Best Sunday Dress"
  • "Dying" (demo)
ReleasedAugust 31, 1998 (1998-08-31)
StudioConway Recording, Record Plant West (Los Angeles)
Producer(s)Michael Beinhorn
Hole singles chronology
"Gold Dust Woman"
"Celebrity Skin"
Music video
"Celebrity Skin" on YouTube

"Celebrity Skin" is a single by American alternative rock band Hole, released by Geffen Records on August 31, 1998. It is the first single released from their third studio album of the same name and is their most commercially successful single, being the only one to reach the top place on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. In October 2011, NME ranked it the 126th best track of the past 15 years.


Music and arrangements[edit]

The song was written and recorded in 1997, after Hole's reported hiatus the previous year due to frontwoman Courtney Love's burgeoning film career. Love and Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson co-wrote the song with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, whom Love later said provided the main guitar riff.[2]


The lyric "So glad I came here with your pound of flesh" references William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (depicted here by John Gilbert)

The lyrics, written by Love,[3] contain several literary references; the line "Oh, look at my face / My name is might-have-been" is directly lifted from the opening verse of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem, "A Superscription," (and also quoted in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night)[4] while the phrase "pound of flesh" originates from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.[4]

Commenting on the theme of celebrity, Love said: "Once you've stood onstage bleating your schoolgirl poetry, are you going to stay there, when you have the power and ability to give yourself a platform? I mean, here's the celebrity, and we all know it's stupid and ephemeral, but why not foster it? Why not feed it? Because all that it will do is give the thing that has substance – the art – more power."[5] The song's title shares the name of an independent pornographic magazine of the same name showing celebrity nudity, as well as a short-lived punk rock group from Los Angeles that featured ex-Germs drummer Don Bolles. Love joked on Later... with Jools Holland in 1995 that the song was entitled "Celebrity Skin" "'cause [she] touched a lot of it."[6]

Journalist Carrie Bell of Billboard noted in 1998 that the song dissects "the problem of maintaining an image and living in the public eye."[7] Guitarist Eric Erlandson responded to this statement: "Courtney writes what she feels, and this is obviously one of her observations of Hollywood. We used this great hollow city as inspiration for the album."[7]


"Celebrity Skin" was released as the debut single of its eponymous album, Celebrity Skin, on August 31, 1998,[8] reaching the top 10 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.[9] It spent a total of 26 weeks on the chart, peaking at number one on October 10, 1998.[10]

Critical response and legacy[edit]

NME referred to the track's musical elements as featuring a "balls-in-the-air guitar riff the size of Australia, and a production sheen that was the sonic equivalent of looking directly at the sun."[11] In 2011, the same publication ranked the song number 126 on a list of the "150 Best Tracks of the Last 15 Years."[11] James Hunter of Rolling Stone wrote of the song: "Hole are immediately in your face with the cheese-metal riffs and cuddly dissolves," deeming it "a track full of cloudless energy that seems to explode the malaise that has surrounded Love."[12]. The song received two Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song, losing to "Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, losing to "Pink" by Aerosmith.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Celebrity Skin" was directed by Nancy Bardawil.[13][14] The video features the band performing the song on a stage, women wearing pink-purple ball gowns hanging from the ceiling and the women later lifting up their skirts as they amble around the stage. The video design bears resemblance to a key sequence in the Marilyn Monroe film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).[15] As well as performance footage, there are also a number of close-ups of Courtney Love and Melissa Auf der Maur lying in coffins. Patty Schemel, although still a member of the band at the time of shooting, does not appear in the video. Schemel was replaced by a lookalike (Samantha Maloney using red hair to emulate Schemel) and only informed a music video was planned after it was shot.[16] The video was shot in black and white and the footage was colorized by Cerulean Fx in post-production.

Formats and track listings[edit]

All songs were written by Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson, and Billy Corgan except where noted.

Credits and personnel[edit]


Guest musicians




Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

In popular culture[edit]

The song was used in the film American Pie, but did not appear on the soundtrack, as well as being featured in the intro of the video game NHL Rock The Rink, as well as the video games Rock Band and Sing Star as a playable track and downloadable content

It also appeared in the 2011 family film Hop. In 2012, the song was performed by Heather Morris and Chord Overstreet in the Glee episode "Makeover"

A line from the song inspired the alternative rock group Garbage to name their third album Beautiful Garbage.[32]

The song was used in the "lip sync for your life" segment on the third episode of the tenth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, where Love was a guest judge.[33]

In 2018, Love performed the song with Rockin'1000 in Florence being backed by 1500 musicians.

The song plays during the end credits of the 2019 film Captain Marvel.[34]

An edited version of the song is also used in the trailer of the 2020 Netflix film Enola Holmes[35] It also appeared in the fifth episode of The Flight Attendant.

On February 11, 2022, rapper and singer Doja Cat released a cover of "Celebrity Skin" as a part of her Super Bowl LVI commercial for Taco Bell.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patty Schemel, though credited, did not provide the drum tracks on the recorded versions of the song; Schemel was replaced by session drummer Deen Castronovo.


  1. ^ a b "88 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1998". Spin. October 25, 2018. p. 10. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  2. ^ "Courtney Love". Behind the Music. June 22, 2010. VH1.
  3. ^ Celebrity Skin (Media notes). Hole. DGC/Geffen Records. 1998. DGCD-25164.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ a b "Courtney Love's Makeover: "Celebrity Skin"". The 97 Network. September 10, 2014. Archived from the original on March 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Moran, Caitlin (September 1999). "The girl who wanted to be God". Select. p. 92.
  6. ^ Love, Courtney. Later... with Jools Holland on May 5, 1995.
  7. ^ a b Bell, Carrie (November 28, 1998). "The Modern Age". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 48. p. 65. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. August 29, 1998. p. 35. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  9. ^ Bell, Carrie (December 5, 1998). "DGC's Hole Harnessing 'Newfound Energy'". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 49. p. 80. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ a b "Hole Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Schiller, Rebecca (October 6, 2011). "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years". NME. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  12. ^ Hunter, James (September 1, 1998). "Celebrity Skin". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 7, 2020.
  13. ^ ""Celebrity Skin" by Hole | Music Video | VH1.com". VH1. August 13, 1998. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  14. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. San Francisco, California: Miller Freeman. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-879-30607-6.
  15. ^ Kinselia, Ana (July 12, 2016). "Five of the World's Most Fashionable Music Videos". Another Magazine. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Patty Schemel (2011). Hit So Hard: The Life and Near-Death Story of Patty Schemel (DVD). The Ebersole Hughes Company.
  17. ^ "Hole – Celebrity Skin". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 7080." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  19. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15, no. 38. September 19, 1998. p. 11. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  20. ^ "Hole – Celebrity Skin" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  21. ^ "Íslenski Listinn (8.10–15.10. 1998)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). October 9, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hole – Celebrity Skin". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  23. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  24. ^ "Hole – Celebrity Skin". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  26. ^ "Hole Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  27. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography Doja Cat". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  28. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. February 21, 2022. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  29. ^ "Doja Cat Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  30. ^ "RPM's Top 50 Alternative Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Hole – Celebrity Skin". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  32. ^ "Unforthcoming Attraction", written by Peter Robinson, published by NME, October 6, 2001, issue
  33. ^ Yang, Bowen; Rogers, Matt (April 5, 2018). "RuPaul's Drag Race Recap: Fun, Friends, Maybe More". Vulture. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  34. ^ Shepherd, Jack (March 9, 2019). "Captain Marvel soundtrack: All the 90s songs featured in MCU film starring Brie Larson". The Independent. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  35. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (August 25, 2020). "What Song Is In The Enola Holmes Trailer:Netflix releases a full-length for its Enola Holmes movie adaptation and it features the guitar riff from a highly popular alternative rock song". Screenrant. Retrieved August 25, 2020.