Pretend We’re Dead

“Pretend We’re Dead”  is a 1992 song by grunge band L7, from the album Bricks Are Heavy.  The song was written and sung by Donita Sparks.  The song peaked at #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and just missed out on cracking the UK Top 20 Hit Singles, stalling at #21.  The song has a ‘dirty’ sound synonymous with the grunge movement; distorted, industrial-punk influenced guitars.  However the song has a crossover appeal with a typical 90’s keyboard sound, that made the song radio friendly, even on conservative stations such as the BBC’s Radio One.  This is underlined by the immediate and infectious chorus, despite a heavy rock, punk attitude and sound.  (More from Wikipedia)
However, that certainly was not true of all of the female musicians in that time period.  Though I was slow to get the details, I was starting to hear about the rumblings of the “riot grrrl” movement, a female offshoot of punk rock; about all I had actually heard in the early days is the 1992 hit “Pretend We’re Dead” by a band called L7 (slang for “square”).  Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker was in Heavens to Betsy, one of many early riot grrrl rock duos.  The fact that only two people could create such a big sound was a revelation and led to a slew of other two-member rock bands in the years to come.  Classically trained pianist Carrie Brownstein (also a vocalist and guitarist) met Tucker in 1992 and was so inspired by her and other early riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill that she started her own grrrl band, Excuse 17.  What began as a side project between the two of them became a full-fledged band with the addition of drummer Lora MacFarlane; MacFarlane was replaced by the third album with another drummer, Janet Weiss.  The arrival of Sleater-Kinney’s lo-fi–looking first album in 1995Sleater-Kinney (appropriately released on a label called Chainsaw Records) quickly established them as one of the finest feminist punk rock bands of that period.  Each album brought them greater fame and a more widespread fan base; by the beginning of the new millennium, Sleater-Kinney had enough mainstream appeal that Time magazine named them America’s best rock band in a 2001 issue.  Their 2002 album, One Beat is one of my very favorite albums of the 2000’s decade. 
(January 2013)
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One track on the L7 album Bricks Are HeavyPretend We’re Dead received a lot of airplay and MTV exposure; the song peaked at #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts. 


(December 2013)


Last edited: March 22, 2021