“What’s up with what’s going down, in every city and every town…”
Catching up on a few articles of SPIN Magazine online recently, I got hit with the fact that Pretend We’re Dead, the signature song of all-girl rockers L7, is officially twenty years old. How about that? I was all of a toddler when the song was dropped, and here we are 20 years later and I know the track like the back of my hand. One of the most anthemic tracks of its time, L7 assisted in keeping grunge alive on a not-so-mainstream basis. One of the other things I love about Pretend We’re Dead, however – leading us to today’s blog – is just how defining the video itself is.
From my extensive watching, I feel like I can pretty neatly separate the majority of grunge clips from this era into “artsy” and “rocking out.” Artsy clips are ones like Black Hole Sun, Heart Shaped Box and Jeremy. Watch them and you’ll get what I’m talking about. Rocking out clips, however, are more like My Wave, Lithium and Alive, to keep with those respective acts. You know the types – lots of thrashing about on stage, stagedives, crowd surfing, etc. All in slow motion, of course. Often in black & white, too. Pretend We’re Dead managed to combine the best of these two to create another bold statement on American teen apathy. The grainy shots of the city and walking the streets are met with vocalistDonita Sparks preaching the lyrics both on-stage and off.
Has Pretend We’re Dead aged? Has it, fuck. Gracefully, of course. It’s a complete product of its time, and that’s why it’s still such an interesting video to watch after all these years. For an extended interview with Sparks on the song and the context surrounding it, head over to SPIN online. Before that, though, enjoy this grunge masterpiece.