Home Read Classic Album Review: Hole | Celebrity Skin

Classic Album Review: Hole | Celebrity Skin

Courney Love's superstar makeover is complete on her commercial third album.

This came out in 1998 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The cover pic kinda says it all.

Check out the ’98 model Courtney Love on Celebrity Skin — apparently dietician-starved and (allegedly) plastic surgeon-carved, provocatively posed in a tight, skimpy top (celebrity skin, indeed) with roses in her hair, like the movie star she is.

It’s a far cry from the Courtney of 1991’s Pretty On The Inside and 1994’s Live Through This — the “kinderwhore” with a cigarette stuck in her blood-red lips and a thrift-store tiara entangled in her bleached rats’ nest of hair.

Yep, it’s official — the celebrity makeover is complete. And fittingly, on Celebrity Skin her music has undergone a similar transformation, leaving behind the ragged glory of the band’s powerful earlier work for a slicker, commercial and more controlled sound.

The choppy riffs and lurching drums, the white-hot anger and black-humour lyrics, the razor-sharp hooks — they’ve been replaced by jangly pop, acoustic guitars, flowing vocals, sweet harmonies and full-blown studio production.

Candy-coated Top 40 fare is the order of the day, from the awfully catchy Awful to the Smashing Pumpkins-style orchestral ballad Northern Star (ironically, it’s not one of the five songs Billy Corgan co-wrote). And even when Courtney and co. do rock out, like on the gritty title track, the thumping Use Once And Destroy or the dark Kurt Cobain elegy Reasons To Be Beautiful, it’s with a mere shadow of the garage-band power they wielded in the days of Violet, Gutless and Teenage Whore.

In short, Love has done to her music what the various professionals and image consultants did to her — sanded the rough edges, smoothed the wrinkles and cleaned up the messy bits.

Frankly, you might find that you liked her better when she claimed to be pretty just on the inside.