Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, watches as a young teen girl desperately tries to accepted in the cutting "Stupid Girl."
A tumbling bassline and a sample of The Clash's "Train in Vain" opens the single.
Manson notices as she fakes being stoned from marijuana. Like the rest of the girls in the clique, she acts like she's apathetic to the world around her. She thinks having those qualities will make her popular. She finds she's accepted by them and it gives her the self-esteem she desires. "You pretend you're high/Pretend you're bored/Pretend you're anything/Just to be adored/And what you need/Is what you get."
In the b-section, Manson comments that the girl is willing to take any dangerous risk. She's turned her back on the values she grew up with and has become self-destructive. "Don't believe in fear/Don't believe in faith/Don't believe in anything/That you can't break."
Manson sneers that the girl is dumb for destroying any promise she might've had to be popular. "You stupid girl/You stupid girl/All you had you wasted/All you had you wasted."
Manson can tell the young girl enjoys the rush she gets from casual sex and partying hard. Manson advises the drive to be "in" will soon overwhelm her. The girl won herself over to the clique by inventing a different version of herself. "What drives you on/Can drive you mad/A million lies to sell yourself/Is all you ever had."
In the second b-section, Manson says the girl is numb to emotion. She can't open herself up to anyone, she'll be exposing herself as the lie as she is. She also can't actively dislike in the group, otherwise she would lose her status. But the girl now has power and bullies the friends she dumped for not being like her. "Don't believe in love/Don't believe in hate/Don't believe in anything/That you can't waste."
Manson adds in the chorus that she didn't think the girl would become a phony. "You stupid girl/You stupid girl/Can't believe you fake it/Can't believe you fake it."
In the third b-section, Manson says the girl avoids the hurt she feels. She's learned people will value her sexuality, not personality. "Don't believe in fear/Don't believe in pain/Don't believe in anyone/
That you can't tame."
The first and second chorus are sung again.
The sample of "Train In Vain" has a solo. It's telling that the section used is "you didn't stand by me, no way." It's a smart nod, briding the original message of the song (abandonment) with adolescence. It gives it another layer.
Manson says "you stupid girl" to end the single.
"Stupid Girl" remains relevant for discussing a tricky issue without resorting to cliches. Manson's disappointment in the girl is apparent. She's seen the girl grow up to loathe who she actually she is. Manson also makes the point that popularity doesn't matter. In the end, the girl will be ashamed of herself for playing the social games and be betrayed by those same people.
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