Valley Girl (song)

"Valley Girl" is a song by American 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 his sole Top 40 hit. Though Zappa intended it to be a mocking satire of San Fernando Valley teen culture, the success of the song inadvertently popularized the "valley girl" stereotype and its associated mannerisms.

"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
Recorded1982
GenreComedy rock, new wave, novelty
Length4:59 (album version)
3:47 (single version)
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)

BackgroundEdit

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
time signature with the exception of the 7
4
groove at the very end.

Commercial releaseEdit

"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 on the Billboard Hot 100 during September 1982, although he had charted hits in other parts of the world. The song was also included on the 1995 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.

Terry "Motor Mouth" Young's suspensionEdit

In July 1982, "Valley Girl" was stunted over Philadelphia's "Hot Hits" formatted station WCAU-FM for a short period of time during Terry "Motor Mouth" Young's evening shift on the station (7:00-8:00 PM Eastern). Young was the most popular radio disc jockey in all of the Philadelphia radio market at the time. The song was played around ten consecutive times without any commercial interruptions, despite a weather forecast being simulated by Terry himself before sneakily playing the song again. Apparently drowsy after the final play, Terry drunkenly commented on the wrong song ("Abracadabra" by The Steve Miller Band) before the station manager entered the studio and angrily intervened, telling Young to "get out and stay out" before shutting the door on him.

Young received a brief suspension from the station, but returned to the studio soon afterward and stayed for four more years until 1986.[5]

Cultural responseEdit

Though intended as a parody, the single popularized the valley girl stereotype nationwide.[6][7][8] 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".[9] 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.[10]

A parody, entitled "Valley Dudes", was recorded in 1982 by The Straight A's.[11][12]

ChartsEdit

Chart (1982) Peak
position
Canada RPM Top Singles[13] 18
US Billboard Top Tracks[14] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 32

ReferencesEdit

Citations
  1. ^ Lowe 2007, p. 177.
  2. ^ a b Kozak, Roman (28 August 1982). "Zappa zaps European tours - Too Expensive, Violent". Billboard. pp. 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. ^ "Terry Young suspended after Valley Girl stunt". Airchexx. July 1982. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  6. ^ Demarest, Michael; Stanley, Alessandra (September 27, 1982). "Living: How Toe-dully Max Is Their Valley". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012.
  7. ^ Donald; Kikisawa; Gaul; Holton (2004). "Language". In Goggans, DiFranco (ed.). 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.
  8. ^ Moley; Muir; Phillips; Smith; Williamson (1985). "Update". Newsweek. 106 (1–9): 8.(subscription required)
  9. ^ Lowe 2007, p. 178.
  10. ^ https://www.lambiek.net/artists/p/pond_mimi.htm
  11. ^ "Straight A's – Valley Dudes". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  12. ^ http://www.madmusic.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=10875
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1982-09-15. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  14. ^ a b "Charts and Awards for Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
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