Valley Girl (song)

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"Valley Girl"
Frank Zappa Valley Girl single.jpg
Single by Frank and Moon Zappa
from the album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
B-side"You Are What You Is"
ReleasedJune 1982
Format7-inch single, 12-inch single
Recorded1982
GenreNew wave, novelty
Length4:59
LabelBarking Pumpkin
Songwriter(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)

"Valley Girl" is a song by the musician Frank Zappa and his then-14-year-old daughter, Moon 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 resulted from the combination of a guitar riff that Frank had composed and Moon's desire to work with her father. According to Zappa biographer Kelly Fisher Lowe, Frank woke Moon in the middle of the night and took her to a studio to recreate conversations that she had had with friends.[1] The lyrics were a deliberate attack on the slang and behavior 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 atypical for Zappa because of its conventional structure compared to his other compositions, and is played entirely in 4/4 with the exception of the 7/4 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 KROQ listener and persuaded the station to play the track during an interview. There was an immediate response from the public, and the song began receiving 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 on the compilation album Strictly Commercial.

In the U.S,. the B-side was "You Are What You Is", but in other territories, it was "Teen-Age Prostitute." Promotional copies contained the album and single versions of the song.

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. In particular, the film Valley Girl capitalized on this cultural curiosity.

Zappa expressed concern that, despite his rich body of music, he was seen as a "novelty" artist because of 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]

Mimi Pond created a comic book about the song, The Valley Girl's Guide to Life, which launched her career. [9]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles[10] 18
US Billboard Top Tracks[11] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 32

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. ^ https://www.lambiek.net/artists/p/pond_mimi.htm
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1982-09-15. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  11. ^ a b "Charts and Awards for Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
Books