Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hey There, Unfortunate Girl

Until I began writing this post, I had no idea that the subject — a stupid and rather mean-spirited song the likes of which you’d expect to hear while on hold or while standing in line at the grocery store — had been nominated for an Academy Award. That fact speaks ill either of the award itself or the state of American, British and Australian culture back in 1967.

The song is “Georgy Girl,” by The Seekers.

Surprised? Does it seems strange to you that this ditty — and it is a ditty, and little more — could have nearly earned a little statuette? It almost did, by virtue of its association with a 1966 film starring Lynn Redgrave, Charlotte Rampling and James Mason, who all now regret their involvement with the project, I’m sure. (The film was based on a book, and a later musical stage adaptation was based on the film. Apparently “Georgy Girl” belongs to a expansive pop culture network of references and remakes. Yes, bad news for humanity.)

It wasn’t until KrisDina and I were driving through Australia and New Zealand that I really appreciated what a wonderfully terrible song “Georgy Girl” is. In addition to being catchy as all hell and containing some of the most awkward chunks of syntax ever in a pop song, “Georgy Girl” delivers one of the foulest messages you could imagine: Make yourself pretty in order to be happy, because no one could ever love you now, you disgusting pig. In retrospect, it was less funny and more mean to re-sing the lyrics as “Dina Girl” when Dina was sitting in the back seat. Then again, she seemed to think it was funny. I think.

If you still don’t know what song I’m talking about — it’s the one Homer Simpson once re-sang as “Hey there, blimpy boy,” if that helps at all — watch the video.

And here are the lyrics, with my commentary.
Hey there, Georgy Girl!
Swinging down the street so fancy free
Nobody you meet could ever see
The loneliness there — inside you
Nice how a brief rest helps to punctuate the “inside you” and hammer home the point that the speakers know more about Georgy than she does herself. The way the first two lines set her up as initially happy — “swinging down the street,” fancy free, or not — makes me think that poor uggo Georgy was just innocently walking down the street when some Brit pop-influenced quartet showed up and started browbeating her for failing to please aesthetically — through song, no less. How horrified Georgy must have been.
Hey there, Georgy Girl!
Why do all the boys just pass you by?
Really, they already know the answer to this question: Georgy is fancy-free and lonely inside. Jerks.
Could it be you just don’t try?
Or is it the clothes you wear?
God, please let it be the clothes and not something more fundamentally unappealing about her.
You’re always window shopping but never stopping to buy
So she’d those dowdy feathers and fly — a little bit.
I have to applaud the effort it took to create the in-line rhyme of “shopping” and “stopping.” Also, by this point in the song, I picture Georgy having dropped her bags of chocolate and stuffed animals she bought at the store and fleeing down the street, with the overly critical singers in hot pursuit. Georgy is scream-crying. Her arms are in the air. People are looking.
Hey there, Georgy Girl!
There’s another Georgy deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide
And, oh, what a change there’d be
And by “bring out all the love you hide,” they actually mean “buy new clothes.”
The world would see — a new Georgy Girl!
Same Georgy Girl. Same Cabbage Patch Kid-on-hard-times face. New clothes.
Hey there, Georgy Girl!
Dreaming of the someone you could be
The someone she’d dream to be is probably someone who isn’t being insulted musically.
Life is a reality; you can’t always run away
Nor can she run away from this band, seeing as how they’re still going on about how she sucks.
Don’t be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself
It’s time for jumping down from the shelf — a little bit
Being stuck on the shelf as a metaphor for being unloved: foreshadowing for the song that I picked for my first song of the week?
Hey there, Georgy Girl!
There’s another Georgy deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide and, oh, what a change there’d be
The world would see — a new Georgy Girl!
They’re repeating whole choruses at this point — proof of cruelty. Also, at this point, the “new” Georgy Girl is probably the old Georgy Girl, rendered into a sobbing human puddle at the bus stop, where she was waiting for her only hope of escape, since she’s clearly to lame to own a car.

Pop music at its best.

Previous songs of the week:


  1. There are other reasons to hate this song.

  2. I didn't know what you meant at first, and then I realized at least one of your reasons is fairly similar to why I resent Nancy Drew.

  3. I LOVE this song. And that is how I found this post. By Googling "Georgy Girl" because I love the song so much. Oh well everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    I love the movie, too, btw.