From The Smashing Pumpkins to Gwen Stefani: 5 artists who have written songs about Courtney Love
It’s fair to say that Courtney Love has ruffled a few feathers over the last 30 years in the music scene. Although the singer does have an army of adoring fans, she also has made a list of ‘enemies’ which includes the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Gwen Stefani and more who have all penned rather unpleasant songs about the Hole vocalist.
Love went on record a few years ago as part of the Anna Farris Is Unqualified podcast to say: “I listen to ‘Lithium’, which is like all of the ‘90s songs and a lot of them are actually about me, which is interesting. There’s so many Smashing Pumpkins songs about me, there’s a Bush song about me.”
This quote got us thinking at the Far Out offices; what other artists (excluding Nirvana) from that era wrote tracks that are *probably* about Courtney? We have been digging deep and doing our best detective work to discover who else Love has pissed off enough over the years for them to feel compelled enough to write a song hitting out at the ’90s icon.
Below is an example of songs that have a breadcrumb trail back to Courtney Love.
Foo Fighters – ‘I’ll Stick Around’
One track that we know for sure was inspired by Love is the 1995 Foo Fighters track ‘I’ll Stick Around’ which was long rumoured before Dave Grohl confirmed it in 2009. Speaking to biographer Dave Brannigan, the former Nirvana drummer said: “I don’t think it’s any secret that ‘I’ll Stick Around’ is about Courtney. I’ve denied it for 15 years, but I’m finally coming out and saying it. Just read the fucking words.” The lyrics from the song don’t make pleasant reading for Love. Take, for example, this close to the bone line: “I’m the only one who sees/your rehearsed insanity”.
The 1999 track ‘Stacked Actors’ is also rumoured to be about the songstress but this has not been confirmed by Grohl or other members of the band. Thankfully, the grudge between the duo seems to be ancient history since the pair reconciled in 2014 when Nirvana were inducted into the ‘Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame’.
Gwen Stefani – ‘Hollaback Girl’
Another song which is almost definitely about Love—although it has not been officially confirmed—is Gwen Stefani’s monster hit ‘Hollaback Girl’.
In a profile with the now-defunct Seventeen Magazine, Love pronounced: “Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.”
This quote lit a fire inside Stefani’s belly who served back an ace in the form of ‘Hollaback Girl’ in 2004 armed with a cheerleading-inspired video.
Tori Amos – ‘Professional Widow’
The next effort is not as certain to be about Love as the previous two tracks mentioned but, if you join the dots, then it is more than plausible so that Tori Amos’ 1996 song ‘Professional Widow’ has a tinge of Love-related influence.
The Hole vocalist is rumoured to have caused a rift between Amos and her friend Trent Reznor who, at the time, Love was in a relationship with during the mid-90s. This theory was refuted by Amos in a 1996 interview, saying the song is “about my own experience. I’ve never met Courtney Love. It’s based on that part of myself that’s Lady Macbeth.”
However, when asked in a 2003 TV interview about the track in question, the host happens to mention that it was inspired by Love to which Amos immediately—and comically—corrects him with a smile and states, “allegedly”.
Nine Inch Nails -‘Starsuckers Inc’
Reznor is also rumoured to have penned a track aimed at Love titled ‘Starsuckers Inc’ which appears to show a character parody the Hole singer at around the 2:28 mark in the song’s official video—you can watch the clip and make your own mind up, below.
The song, as the title suggests, hounds the celebrity culture that Love was surrounded in at the time. Lyrics such as: “My god pouts on the cover of the magazine / My god’s a shallow little bitch trying to make the scene” cut deep.
The duo’s fractured relationship wasn’t helped by a series of public comments by Love in the ’90s including the time she told SPIN: “Don’t call your band Nine Inch Nails if you have a three-inch one,” which understandably won’t have gone down greatly with Reznor.
The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Tonight, Tonight’
Long before Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain were an item, she was in a relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan which didn’t end in the nicest of terms. Although they have now, at last, made a truce.
However, long before they made up, Love was rumoured to be the fuse behind many Smashing Pumpkins songs—although this has been dismissed by Corgan. Reflecting on the topic as part of an appearance on the BBC 6 Music in 2014, Love claimed that Siamese Dream was mainly about her. During that very same interview Love also said that the Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness tracks ‘Tonight, Tonight,’ ‘Bodies,’ and ‘Where Boys Fear To Tread’ are about her with the latter being Corgan’s reaction to her relationship with Trent Reznor.
Corgan has always been coy about the themes behind his work and has never confirmed that what Love claims to be true.