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Martin Adam Pavlík
November 11, 2022, 11:30am
Reading time: 9:14

The Pretty Reckless: Outrageously Sexy Concerts, Anti-Christian Clips Full Of Erotica And Shocking Lyrics.

Alt-rock band The Pretty Reckless: from eccentric gigs to heavy trauma

Martin Adam Pavlík
November 11, 2022, 11:30am
Reading time: 9:14
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The Pretty Reckless: Outrageously Sexy Concerts, Anti-Christian Clips Full Of Erotica And Shocking Lyrics.
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Nothing sums up their performances more than a sexy hard rock show. The Pretty Reckless is characterized by the image of dark "goths", youthful ferocity, rebellious and anti-Christian video clips full of eroticism or anarchy and mature, harsh texts in a slightly nihilistic dress, from which you can feel frustration, anger, cynicism or strong socio-political criticism.


Eccentric band leader Taylor Momsen playfully and subtly combined Kurt Cobain's phlegmatic speech with the falsettos of Chris Cornell. We must also mention the similarity with Courtney Love from the band Hole or the legendary Joan Jett.


It is not by chance that music critics refer to The Pretty Reckless as a band playing post-grunge. Although another significant influence is hard rock, yet the most appropriate genre for this New York band is alternative rock, defined in their strong LP debut called Light Me Up.


Source: Getty Images/Katja Ogrin/Redferns


Sweet seventeen and a bag full of trauma

Perhaps you too got to know The Pretty Reckless during high school and were immediately drawn to their "emo" look and unique demeanour in front of the cameras. Strong Momsen make-up, black clothes, constant debates about depression or death. As if they didn't even enjoy life. Several teenagers with mental problems could relate to their music and the band quickly gained a following of loyal fans.

Everything was strengthened by the fact that at the time of the release of the first album Light Me Up, in 2010, the singer Taylor Momsen was only seventeen years old. She started creating music and lyrics with contemporary guitarist Ben Phillips and music producer Kat Khandwal. However, they also hired other musicians for performances, while the band was initially called only The Reckless.


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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa Taylor Momsen (@taylormomsen)


To understand the image and moods of Taylor Momsen, it is necessary to mention her background and past. Momsen started out as an actress, writes the music channel Heavi. Her parents drew her into the world of show business when she was only two years old. Modeling, shooting TV series, films and commercials brought her fame, many interviews and the constant attention of cameras, and the singer herself revealed, that this is why she never had a normal childhood or friends.


Fame at an early age was this responsible for some of her traumas, which she later needed to cry out through her music. You could remember Taylor Momsen, for example, from the  Christmas story Grinch, where she appeared alongside Jim Carrey, or from the war drama We Were Soldiers, where she played Mel Gibson's daughter, but also from the popular series Gossip Girl. There she portrayed a nice, decent, smiling girl, while on the stage, she turned into a devil, not to be trifled with.


Source: Rock for People/The Pretty Reckless


Boldly controversial video clips and first hits

“Never was a girl with a wicked mind, but everything looks better when the sun goes down, and every time I look inside your eyes, you make me wanna die, taste me, drink my soul, show me all the things that I shouldn't know," sings Momsen in the band's first single, Make Me Wanna Die, which was first released on the debut EP called The Pretty Reckless and later on the first LP Light Me Up in the same year.



It's immediately clear what direction the band will take. In the music video for the song, Momsen walks through the dirty streets of New York, gradually shedding her clothes. We soon find out that she travels to the cemetery, where, already completely naked, she starts to burn.


The first hits included the emotional songs Zombie (released on the first EP), Miss Nothing, My Medicine and Just Tonight. Thanks to them, the band achieved huge commercial success. Great sales were complemented by positive reviews from, for example, the New York Times or Kerrang magazine. Music video for the song Miss Nothing has raised the eyebrows of all conservatives again.

In a scene reminiscent of Christ's Last Supper, the dressed clad singer crawls across a table full of food and throws it on the floor, making a mess or smashing a glass bottle over another band member's head. At the end, we see her in the inverted pose of the crucified Christ on the table.

Comments about porn, taped nipples and wild concerts


Taylor Momsen, still only 17 at the time, attracted the attention of the public and the media not only with video clips and texts, but also with various comments in interviews on sensitive topics. In an interview for Revolver, for example, she admitted that she watches porn and masturbates. She also allegedly saw the sex tape that Tommy Lee made with Pamela Anderson.


"Guys can masturbate. So why can't girls? Why isn't it talked about?" the singer asked the editor during the interview. She also posed for the music magazine's cover with a fake gun wearing only underwear, thigh-high stockings and high heels.


Momsen continued to enjoy provoking and inciting debate and controversy. As Contactmusic writes, in 2010, during a concert in New York, she rolled up her shirt and revealed herself to the audience. She was without a bra and her nipples were covered only by the black tape in the shape of an X. The singer went even further a year later at a concert in Barcelona.


Father, would you mind if I took my clothes off?


In Spain, during the song Going Down, she invited enthusiastic fans to the stage, who happily joined her in only bras. Subsequently, she began to dance seductively with them and hug them, while after the end of the song she started kissing and hugging them (this became a habit, as she did something similar at other stops in the tour, for example in Argentina or Paris).


"Hey there father I don't want to bother you, but I've got a sin to confess, I'm just sixteen if you know what I mean, do you mind if I take off my dress, I don't know where to start, so let me get to the good parts, you might want to cross up your legs, e could go in the back behind all, these stacks of bibles and get out of this cage,” Momsen sings in the song.


"There was this boy who, tore my heart in two, and I had to lay him eight feet under ground. Now all I need is someone to save me, 'cause I am going down," the sly provocateur sings on the chorus.


Source: Getty Images/Katja Ogrin/Redferns

Hit me like a man, love me like a woman

With the Hit Me Like a Man EP from 2012, the band lived up to its reputation. The lyrics to the title song cut deep under the skin: "I am strong, love is evil, it's a version of perversion that is only for the lucky people, hit me like a man, love me like a woman, love me like a woman"

In the same year, Momsen sang a duet with Marilyn Manson during his song The Dope Show at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards, who grabbed her breasts or slapped her ass during the performance. Paradoxically, the singer did not protest at all, and at the end of the song, she and Manson even kissed.

In 2014, The Pretty Reckless released their second successful studio album, Going to Hell, with twelve songs. From the five singles released before the album, it was already clear that the band had grew even darker. The recording included more massive riffs, faster tempos and a more aggressive performance by Taylor Momsen. She, by the way, went bare for the album cover, with a large cross painted on her back with an arrow pointing downwards.


At the same time, Going to Hell was far more experimental and playful in terms of compositions. Not to mention that the band also worked on video clips. They seemed more serious, professional, imaginative and original. In addition to the title track, Heaven Knows and Fucked Up World are definitely among the biggest hits of the album.

A conceptual dark album without significant hits

The band also showed significant progress on the record Who You Selling For from 2016, even though the more prominent hits with catchy choruses, characteristic of earlier albums, were absent. However, the leader of the band has a clear answer to that. As she told Teen Vogue, it's very much a concept album, where it depends on the order in which you play the songs.


The singer also explained the writing process in the interview. "Writing a song can take ten years or five minutes... I personally need to isolate myself from the world while writing and be alone for a while, just with my thoughts. At the same time, I need to keep an open mind, because you never know where inspiration can come from."


She opened up even more to Cosmopolitan, revealing that it's a fairly dark record. In the formative phase, Momsen was lost, desperate and confused. At that time, the 23-year-old singer also remembered a more stormy period and her most challenging outfits, with which she intentionally provoked. Apparently she was just a child then, and today she wouldn't tape her nipples or wear a corseted dress with stripper heels everywhere.


Allegedly, it was a phase that she does not regret. She also put her attitude towards religion in perspective. In the aforementioned interview, she said that although her parents raised her as a Catholic, she does not identify as such. When asked if she is a believer, she said that she is a spiritual person, but does not recognise any God. She believes in good, decency and morality.

The most outstanding track on the third album Who You Selling For was definitely Take Me Down, which beautifully combines classic rock and roll with blues and, surprisingly, gospel elements. The band even incorporated keyboards to the distorted guitars. However, the energetic burner Oh My God, which is reminiscent of Soundgarden's best works, undoubtedly got the blood pumping the most for the fans at the concerts.

Overwhelming tragedies and a plunge into the void

It was with Soundgarden that The Pretty Reckless went on tour in the spring of 2017. However, the bands played only twelve of the eighteen planned concerts. After the performance in Detroit, news came that shocked the whole world. The frontman of the legendary grunge band Chris Cornell was found dead in a hotel room on May 18. He allegedly committed suicide.


It was a huge blow not only for Cornell's family and bandmates, but also for the members of The Pretty Reckless, as they were among the last people to see him alive, hang out with him, and last but not least, he was a huge musical and personal role model for them.


The Pretty Reckless immediately canceled all planned concerts, as Taylor Momsen was not at her best mentally and was unable to perform. Another tragedy came a year later. Longtime producer and friend of the band, Kato Khandwala, died in a car accident in Los Angeles. Two unexpected deaths of close people suddenly had a heavy impact on the stagnation of the band. Momsen closed in on herself and isolated herself from everyone around her.


The singer recalled the dark period for People magazine in 2021. “Opening for Soundgarden was the most important thing for me, so how suddenly it all ended was devastating. We were there the night Chris died and we talked. Waking up to the news that he was gone was a huge shock. I wasn't ready for that."


The subsequent death of the band's producer was said to be just the nail in the coffin for her. She fell into total depression and struggled with addiction. Fortunately, she was able to get out of the deep abyss and transformed all the sadness into another album called Death by Rock and Roll. “The band and I have been through a lot and the healing process is by no means over, but we're definitely on the right track. I want people to know that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and a reason to keep moving forward," added Momsen.


Source: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

A beautiful tribute to rock and roll and their late friends


The Death by Rock and Roll album was released on February 12, 2021, and the band named it after a statement Khandwala made. As Momsen explained, they dedicated the entire album to deceased friends they had lost over the past few years.


As a tribute to Cornell, The Pretty Reckless recorded the song Only Love Can Save Me Now with his Soungarden bandmates Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil. Another guest on the album is Tom Morello, who played with Cornell in the "supergroup" Audioslave. You can hear his easily recognisable style in the song And So It Went.


Momsen performed with Morello and members of Soundgarden in 2019 in Los Angeles at a tribute show for Chris Cornell called I Am the Highway. The Pretty Reckless' fourth album can be called their most mature record. To feel on her that the band went through all kinds of things during its time, but it didn't bury it, but on the contrary, it strengthened it.


The Pretty Reckless also released the album Other Worlds, in which they brought to the fans previously unheard and new versions of already recorded songs, one remix or covers of Soundgarden's songs Halfway There and Loud Love from Soundgarden or a cover hit (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding by Elvis Costello.


As the band's singer Taylor Momsen revealed to Kerrang magazine, the musicians decided to create this small experiment based on a huge load of positive feedback on their acoustic performances. In this softer form, you can now listen to the songs 25, Only Love Can Save Me Now or Death By Rock and Roll.


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