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THN’s Guilty Pleasures: Josie & The Pussycats

by Charlie Skeoch

‘Cool’ is the most transient, fickle bugger in the whole dictionary. Officially defined as ‘elegant, sophisticated, esp. in an unruffled way’, cool is in fact to be more likely found in a grotty warehouse puffing rollies, looking very much like Chloe Sevigny and displaying its middle digit at every camera in the room – elegant it is invariably not. ‘Cool’ changes its mind from year to year, it favours the young and mathematically inept, has actually listened to the whole M.I.A. album instead of feebly pretending, and – let’s be honest – can choose from a shortlist of about ten films to adopt as its favourite, if it wishes to keep its reputation intact.

Admit it – when someone asks you your favourite film, a few Cool-Police-approved options ricochet around your head while your palms begin to sweat. ‘THE THREE COLOURS!’, you may blurt. You’re definitely lying. You only watched ‘Blue’ and Facebook stalked most of the way through it, before getting so depressed you drank an entire bottle of plonk and don’t remember the ending.

But if we’re all honest our favourite films are derived from our own, often 13-year-old self brand of cool. I have an unshakable, yet rarely vocalised belief that the coolest film out there – with the most achingly cool protagonists – is in fact (drum roll please) JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. Nope, I’m not being ironically retro pastiche and talking about the TV show, because I’m not a wanker… sorry, hipster. It’s Josie’s 2001 silver screen cousins that make my insides jump around like a 16-year-old listening to House of Pain.

If you haven’t seen JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, you must remedy this sacrilege immediately before the Goddess of crop tops smites you with a pink guitar to the head. But for those of you who haven’t, here’s a quick run-down anyway. Small town rock chick Josie (for whom the height of rock ‘n’ roll behaviour is a bit of light motor engineering – Rachael Leigh Cook), and her two band mates Valerie (the stroppy one – Rosario Dawson) and Melody (the ditzy one – Tara Reid) just want to be signed, like, so much, so they can like totally rock out and get out of sleepy old Riverdale. As luck would have it, an opening for ‘the next big thing’ comes up when super-camp band Du Jour (of which Seth Green and Donald Faison are members) are killed in a tragic plane crash. The Pussycats are signed with music manager Wyatt (Alan Cumming), who makes Rupert Murdoch look above board, and are supersupersupersuper excited (screaming scenes feature prominently throughout). Yet little do they know that Wyatt and his scheming bitch of a boss (Parker Posey) are using their tween-friendly musicians to send subliminal messages into the brains of unwitting teenagers, so they’ll do TERRIBLE things like buy Sketchers and Coke – could we call this satire? Yes, I think we could. Naturally it all works out in the end and Josie and her fellow Pussies gently head-bang off into the sunset. Ahhhhh.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS grabbed me by the pigtails at the most impressionable age: 12-years-old, thinking that anything with a slight whiff of rom-com and innuendo (especially Du Jour’s hit song ‘Back Door Lover’– I quote: ‘Coming up behind with the lights down low‘) thrilled me more than vodka and nipple slips thrill Tara Reid. By 13, I was watching it on repeat with my best friend, playing the soundtrack on our discmans at school and quoting Alan Cumming’s droll one-liners to anyone who’d refrain from slapping us in return. The girls were like the punk-pop teenage version of the Powerpuff Girls, and despite an album full of absolute musical tosh, the single ‘3 Small Words’ actually makes it pretty impossible to resist channelling your inner Debbie Harry (the Disney Channel edition). Nothing will ever be as cool to me as Josie singing at the bowling alley, feet planted wide, feline tail swinging between her flares, screwing up her button nose, singing exactly how I wanted to feel: ‘Five star triple threat, hardest of the hard to get, no one’s little red corvette, ain’t seen nothing like me yet’… Cooler than Chloe Sevigny sorbet, and my most glorious guilty pleasure.

You can see the rest of our guilty pleasures here.

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Isra Alkassi Aug 14, 2012 - 2:46 pm

I also had this on repeat as a kid. Favorite moments include an appearance by Carson Daly, Parker Posey’s girl talk sessions and of course all of the lovely De Jour tunes. Great guilty pleasure!

Dan Bullock Aug 14, 2012 - 11:32 pm

Ha, very entertaining call!

You know, it may have spawned something very specific…we even had songs:




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