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Teenage Whore

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"Teenage Whore"
Hole - Teenage Whore single cover.png
Cover artwork of 12" single
Single by Hole
from the album Pretty on the Inside
B-side "Drown Soda" (CD, 7", 12")
"Burn Black" (CD, 12")
Released September 24, 1991 (1991-09-24)[1][a]
Format CD single, 12", 7"
Recorded March 1991 (1991-03)
Studio Music Box Studios in Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Length 2:59
Label City Slang
Hole singles chronology
"Teenage Whore"
"Beautiful Son"

"Teenage Whore"
"Beautiful Son"

"Teenage Whore" is a song by American alternative rock band Hole. It is the first track on the band's debut studio album, Pretty on the Inside (1991), and was released as a single in the United Kingdom on the European label, City Slang in September 1991. The single was released in both compact disc as well as 12" and 7" vinyl, with "Drown Soda" and "Burn Black" as b-sides. Though it did not chart in the United States, the single gained popularity in the United Kingdom upon its release, peaking at #1 on the UK Indie Chart in September 1991.[1][2] The song later appeared on the soundtrack of the 1994 film S.F.W..[3]

Recorded in March 1991 during the studio sessions for Pretty on the Inside, the track featured production by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Gumball frontman Don Fleming. The song's lyrics, written by frontwoman Courtney Love,[4] narrate a dejected teenaged prostitute who has been abandoned by her mother. Heavily influenced by noise rock and grindcore,[5] the band's musical arrangements on the song feature rapid string muting, tritones, and a noted "sonic uncleanliness."


Recording and composition[edit]

"Teenage Whore" was written by bassist Jill Emery, lead guitarist Eric Erlandson, drummer Caroline Rue and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Courtney Love in 1991 and was one of the first songs written by Hole's second line up, featuring Emery, after the departure of original bassist Lisa Roberts and additional guitarists Mike Geisbrecht and Errol Stewart.[6] It was recorded over a period of four days in March 1991 during sessions for Pretty on the Inside at Music Box Studios in Los Angeles. It was produced by Sonic Youth musician Kim Gordon and Gumball frontman Don Fleming.[7]

The musical composition of "Teenage Whore" follows the status quo of Pretty on the Inside, which is most often noted for its extreme abrasiveness,[8] though it is also noted for its sophisticated use of melodic structure which is buried under arrangements. Spin addressed this, saying: "at first [the song] comes across like a ranting noisy rage, but underneath is a surprisingly lush melody."[9] The song's main verse riff follows an E-G-F chord progression, with the bridge composed of a layering of diminished fifths and muted strings,[10] evoking a "sonic uncleanliness."[11] As with the majority of the band's songs, the lyrics to "Teenage Whore" were written by Love, and deal with a negative self image and real or imagined perception of oneself as a "whore", which is reinforced by the narrator's mother.[4]


"Teenage Whore" was issued as a single through Hole's European label, City Slang, in September 1991 to promote Pretty on the Inside, and entered the UK Indie Chart at number 1. It was available on 7" vinyl on pink, clear and transparent green vinyls, with "Drown Soda" as a b-side, and on 12" vinyl and compact disc with "Drown Soda" and "Burn Black" as b-sides (both of which had been recorded during alternate recording sessions, at Fun City Studio in New York City, and Radio Tokyo in Los Angeles, respectively).[b] This marked the band's first CD release, as all of their prior singles had been released solely on vinyl.[c]

"Burn Black" had previously been issued as a b-side on the band's previous single, "Dicknail", which had been released on Sub Pop Records[12] in March 1991, when the band began recording Pretty on the Inside. On The Chart Show, the song's title was censored, with the word "whore" being replaced with dots.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Music columnist Everett True referred to "Teenage Whore" as "the most unsettling thing I've heard since Patti Smith uncovered "Piss Factory" ... only it's way more personal."[13] In the 1995 book The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll, music scholars Simon Reynolds and Joy Press reflected on the track, writing: ""Teenage Whore" turns the lowliest member of rock society, the groupie, into the ultimate (anti) heroine. Love rasps out an unclassifiable alloy of growling defiance and retching disgust, while Hole's torturous music grinds out her humiliation and hatred with a creakiness that betrays how long this howl has been lurking in the back of the throat."[14] Cultural theorist Jan Jagodzinski also reads the song as the narrative of a groupie and representing a "desublimated ugly aesthetic of the abjected mother."[15] In The Rough Guide to Rock, the song is noted as "coercing the listener into Love's anguish" as well as representing the band's early stylistic choices and aesthetic, characterized by "drone" and featuring "poetic turns of phrase."[16]

In popular culture[edit]

The song was later featured on the official soundtrack of the film S.F.W. (1994).[3] The song is also mentioned playing on a car stereo in a scene from the play Slipping by Daniel Talbott, featured in Awkward Stages: Plays about Growing Up Gay (2015).[17]

Comedian Jen Kirkman references the song in her book I Know What I'm Doing–and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction (2016).[18]

Formats and track listings[edit]

7" single (04070-40)
1."Teenage Whore"2:59
2."Drown Soda"
  • Love
  • Erlandson
Total length:7:51
12" and CD single (SLANG 011/013)
1."Teenage Whore"
  • Love
  • Erlandson
  • Emery
  • Rue
2."Drown Soda"
  • Love
  • Erlandson
3."Burn Black"
  • Love
  • Erlandson
  • Emery
  • Rue
Total length:12:47

Credits and personnel[edit]



Art direction

  • Michael Levine – photography


Chart (1991) Peak
UK Indie Chart[1] 1


  1. ^ The single debuted at number one on the UK Indie Chart on September 28, 1991; the charts are run on a weekly basis, placing the release of the CD single in the United Kingdom on September 24, 1991.
  2. ^ Liner notes from the 1991 City Slang Teenage Whore single (SLANG 011/013) list the following recording locations on the back cover sleeve:
    • "Teenage Whore" recorded at Music Box Studios in Hollywood, California
    • "Drown Soda" recorded at Fun City Studio in New York City, New York
    • "Burn Black" recorded at Radio Tokyo in Los Angeles, California
  3. ^ Hole's previous two singles were issued only on 7" 45 RPM records— "Retard Girl" through Sympathy for the Record Industry (SFTRI 53), and "Dicknail" through Sub Pop (SP093).


  1. ^ a b c d "Indie Charts: September 28, 1991". The ITV Chart Show. September 28, 1991. Channel 4.  {{YouTube|
  2. ^ "Hole". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "S.F.W. – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Ditmore 2006, p. 410.
  5. ^ Lankford 2009, p. 77.
  6. ^ Love, Courtney (1995). "Flipside Interview from issue #68, September/October 1990". The First Session (Media notes). Hole. Sympathy for the Record Industry, Flipside Magazine. 
  7. ^ "Love's Labor". Spin: 90. 
  8. ^ Love, Courtney (January 1991). "Spotlight: Hole". Much Music (Canada). It's a lot of violent stuff on top, but there's a lot of melody underneath it. You know, we made this record, and all of a sudden people are like, "It's so extreme, it's so violent", but we didn't really know. We just thought we were making a pop record with an edge ... we live in LA, the metal capital, so there's really nobody that relates to us. 
  9. ^ Von Furth, Daisy (October 1991). "Hole Lotta Love". Spin (Oct. 1991). p. 32. 
  10. ^ Whiteley 2000, p. 208.
  11. ^ "Frontman". Musician. Amordian Press (195–99): 162. 1995. 
  12. ^ Azerrad 2002, p. 446.
  13. ^ True 2001, p. 229.
  14. ^ Reynolds & Press 1995, p. 261.
  15. ^ Jagodzinski 2005, p. 202.
  16. ^ Buckley 2003, p. 499.
  17. ^ Talbott, Daniel (2015). "Slipping". In Clum, John and Sean Metzger. Awkward Stages: Plays about Growing Up Gay. Cambria Press. ISBN 978-1-60497-908-4. 
  18. ^ Kirkman 2016, p. 71.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]