Musicography: 2002

2002: “Take It Off” (The Donnas, Spend the Night)

With a few notable exceptions, the term “girl group” tends to bring to mind this squeaky clean image that’s sort of inherent when using the term “girl”.  It implies cute, innocent, pre-sexual young women who sing happy, poppy tunes without anything more salacious on their minds than holding hands and maybe a goodnight peck on the cheek.  So to call the Donnas a girl group isn’t exactly fair, because The Donnas have had five or six beers and want to bounce you around the bedroom for the rest of the night.

And you wouldn’t call The Donnas “cute” either.  Not that they’re unattractive, but there’s nothing dainty or girl-like about them.  There’s none of the edge of jail bait kink that the Runaways brought to the table, even if they are all dressed up in cute pajamas and ready for a slumber party on the cover of Spend the Night.  Make no mistake: these are women.  They’re going for the rowdy kind of sexy, that gets in your face and beats you over the head with the smell of cheap beer and smoky bars.  Not slutty, at least not totally, but also assertive and confident with just the right streak of recklessness.  That sexiness carries over to the music too.  Just look at some of the song titles on the album.  “Take It Off.”  “You Wanna Get Me High.”  “Please Don’t Tease.”  “Take Me to the Back Seat.”  None of those would be out of place on an old Poison or Motley Crüe album.  But The Donnas don’t pull any punches, rocking just as hard if not harder than their crotch-thrusting male counterparts.  How hard?  Their original drummer had to quit because of tendonitis.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am indeed.

Of course, that attitude it probably why The Donnas never became a mainstream success like their more submissively sexy colleagues.  Oh, we’ll embrace the occasional Madonna or Lady Gaga, but for the most part, we prefer our musical vixens less up front about it.  The braggadocio is for the men; best if the ladies wrap it up in innuendo or faux innocence.  So while The Donnas probably deserve a much bigger audience than they’ve managed up to this point — beyond the sexuality, their songs are just damn fun — at least they’ve gotten where they are by being brazenly unapologetic about wearing their lust on their sleeves.


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