Monday, June 13th, 2022

Måneskin – Supermodel

I mean, his hair does shine like the sea…


Jessica Doyle: I will admit that, first, I am the wrong person to ask about ’90s nostalgia, and second, I did smile at “When you’re not looking, she’s stealing your Basquiat.” That said: y’all, unless you’re reading Jimmy Maher’s work, it really was not that interesting a decade. And the supermodel craze was one of the less interesting aspects of it. Moreover, technology has not changed enough to make the era more interesting by obscuring it. You can get the video for “Freedom ’90” on YouTube, in 4K no less. And finally, “Save Tonight” is one of the least interesting songs I have ever heard, and its overlap with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” does not an interesting song make.

Ian Mathers: It’s possible a band like Måneskin could work outside the narrow bandwidth of their first few notable tracks, but it’s not likely — as opposed to their attempt at a character sketch being underwhelming, which is very likely. Take out one “OnlyFans,” and this could have been made any time going back to and through the ’90s. It’d be just as milquetoast then, too. Minus an extra point for the way Damiano David sings the verses.

Tim de Reuse: At its best, “Supermodel” is interesting and strange in the details — I kind of adore the way the narrative is awkwardly crammed into the verse’s three-note melody. If the whole thing was as effortlessly stupid as the rhyme between “good christ-tian” and “new best friend,” it’d gain a lazy, half-assed type of cool. The chorus, however, tries a little too hard for a radio-friendly hook and syncopates itself into the netherworld from which Adam Levine gets all his worst earworms.

Harlan Talib Ockey: I can enjoy this song on both an aesthetic and a conceptual level, but I don’t think it’s truly functional on either. “Supermodel” is more polished than Måneskin’s last couple of singles, thanks presumably to Max Martin. Damiano David sounds at ease singing in English, and the only line that scans as not-quite-fluent is “her boyfriend is the rock ‘n’ roll”. The conventional pop structure is an acceptable experiment after “I Wanna Be Your Slave” (100% hook) and “Mammamia” (75% hook). The “every night’s a heartbreak” pre-chorus, however, is jarring and creatively bankrupt. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’d “Smells Like Teen Spirit” riff is… okay. I appreciate the idea of ripping off two ’90s icons for a song about a ’90s throwback, and “Supermodel” does a solid job of illustrating a character through lyrical references to the era, rather than using them as window dressing. There’s something deeply slimy and condescending about most of the Male Rock Singer Narrates Young Woman’s Disaster Life canon, though, and this is a particularly bad example. The narrator is enough of a presence to express his contempt but not enough to be parsed as an actual character, so it reads like the subject is being insulted for no reason for three minutes. Anyway, I realized while writing this that “Dani California” is a great song after all.

Katherine St Asaph: Any actual ’90s supermodel would recognize the not-even-slightly-subtle “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rip here. She would not recognize this reimagining of herself as a hipster grifter, nor the 2020s nu-indie-sleaze filter layered over a 2010s Maroon 5 filter layered over the song. Also: I don’t exactly expect a bunch of Italian dudes to pay attention to United States news, even if their choice of producers like Max Martin suggests they’re paying attention to the United States market. But the second verse — “Way back in high school, when she was a good Christian I used to know her, but she’s got a new best friend, a drag queen named The Virgin Mary takes confessions” — paired with the half-scolding, half-gawking tone of the song aligns a bit too well, if accidentally, with this month’s right-wing bullshit.

Alfred Soto: I suppose a band can make a tasty hash out of Nirvana and ’90s nostalgia, but unless they’re writing about a young man dating a woman who was a supermodel in the 1990s — now there’s an untouched subject — why bother?

Micha Cavaseno: People who know me IRL know that I’ve been confiding that since the 2010s were only starting to wind down, I have been insisting people who want to make money in music should make “the most cromulent yet conservative rock” in order to service an audience that had been so starved for that familiarity so long we’re now watching bands like My Chemical Romance be treated to their generation’s equivalence of Led Zeppelin. Plenty of bands I saw start to do numbers were scoffed at as making “not songs, but jeans commercials.” Måneskin aren’t too different from that, and acts like them or Mother Mother, The Interrupters or The Struts are just here and happy to provide solid rock that has been sorely missed. Of COURSE it’s blowing up in spite of its seeming effervescence. Now, can I tell you any aspect of this Måneskin song that’s particularly interesting? No! But its role, its value and its ability to get the job done… that’s where the action’s at.

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