Jan 12

The Runaways: “Hollywood”


Despite their best efforts to shimmy up the strings of the giant guitar, the Runaways were ultimately overtaken by the Pink Fog of Death.

I recently saw that Runaways movie with Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, and although it was by no means a great movie, it wasn’t half bad. Maybe a quarter bad. And seeing former cute child actor Fanning rocking Currie’s lingerie stage outfit was a little disturbing somehow. But the one thing the movie did accomplish was to make me want to listen to more of the original music, which I have to admit I haven’t previously done all that much.

The Runaways only recorded two studio albums while Currie was in the group, although based on what you might typically hear via the standard music channels, you might assume they only had one song: “Cherry Bomb.” But both albums pack a punch, finding the common ground between the New York Dolls and KISS — some punk, some heavy metal, quite a bit of glam rock. Not much of a distance between those two bands, granted, since the Dolls were a big influence on KISS, but with some T. Rex thrown into the mix, it describes the sound pretty well. While they may have been in large part a fabrication of Kim Fowley’s (no more than the Sex Pistols were by Malcolm McLaren, though), they were certainly an influence on many punk rockers to come.

“Hollywood” is a cool tune from the Runaways’ second album, 1977’s Queens of Noise. It has a clean distorted guitar riff that feels a bit like something from a Queens of the Stone Age song (or maybe more like Josh Homme’s other band, Eagles of Death Metal) — and hmmm, is that connection between band name and album title merely a coincidence? Could be, could be not. Anyway, Joan Jett sings lead on “Hollywood,” and the song’s combination of her tough, punky vocals and the melodic backing harmonies works oh so well. It’s definitely the kind of song that later led the Donnas to pick up where the Runaways left off.

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