The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun
|"The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun"|
|Song by Julie Brown|
|A-side||"I Like 'Em Big And Stupid"|
|Released||November 9, 1983|
|Genre||pop and comedy|
|Songwriter(s)||Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, Ray Colcord, Terrence E. McNally|
"The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" is a song by American singer–comedian Julie Brown. It appeared as the B-side to her 1983 single "I Like 'em Big and Stupid". Brown's satire of valley girl culture also parodies 1950s-1960s "teen tragedy" songs.
The song and its music video begins as a satire of a 1950s' doo-wop song, recounting the homecoming dance in which her best friend, Debi, is crowned queen. Once that happens, the tone changes to 1980s synthpop as Debi unexpectedly pulls out a weapon and begins indiscriminately killing classmates and teachers at the parade (the singer, in keeping with the Valley Girl stereotype of being oblivious and self-absorbed, shows remarkable lack of sympathy for the deaths of the entire glee club and the math teacher). In the end, the police fire a warning shot at Debi, which proves unexpectedly fatal; the singer runs to Debi's side and asks her why she went on the killing spree. As her last words, Debi confesses that she "did it for Johnny", leaving her friend to ponder who she meant, as the only person named Johnny in the class was a nerdy classmate who always had food stuck in his braces. The friend compares the mystery of "Johnny" to one in classic cinema: "It's like that movie Citizen Kane, you know, where you later find out that 'Rosebud' is his sled? / But we'll never know who Johnny was, 'cause, like, she's dead!"
A censored version of the song changes the line "I almost wet my jeans" to "I almost ripped my seam", "It's like the whole school was totally coked or something" became the non-rhyming "I mean, like, it made me really proud to be a teenager!" and "Are you having a really bad period?" became "You'll get suspended if you don't quit it".
The song first appeared as a B-side to Brown's 1983 self-released single "I Like 'em Big and Stupid", and took off after frequent play on The Dr. Demento Show led to radio airplay around the US. It would become what music critic Jonathan Taylor called "one of the most delightfully silly singles and videos of the past few years."
"The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" was re-released (along with its A-side) on Brown's 1984 EP Goddess in Progress on Rhino Records (RNEP610). It also appears on the novelty label's subsequent release – the compilation Teenage Tragedies (RNEP611) – packaged with nine other songs, original '50s and '60s "death discs" of the type her song parodies. It also appears on the 1991 Rhino compilation Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection. A re-recorded dance version appeared as a B-side to Brown's 2005 single "I Want to Be Gay".
In October 2008, Brown released a re-written version, "The Ex-Beauty Queen's Got a Gun," parodying Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin during Palin's bid for election with John McCain. Available digitally only, the low-budget recording has Brown singing new lyrics over a previously released karaoke version of the original song. As such, the prerecorded backing vocals sing words that do not match the new lyrics.
At least one reviewer cited the song as evidence of a sea change in novelty songs, observing: "The songs got sicker and more nihilistic. In 1960, a pretty girl wore an 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini'; in 1985, a pretty girl in Julie Brown's cult classic "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" grabs a machine gun and does a Rambo on most of the senior class."
The song was ranked No. 488 in the KROQ Flashback 500 of 1988 and No. 324 in the KROQ-FM Flashback 500 of 1996. It was included in a special by the Australian national radio station Triple J on school songs in 2001.
Brown admitted in a July 2000 interview that after the Columbine High School massacre she no longer felt comfortable performing "Homecoming Queen", even though the circumstances of the song were quite different from the real-life events, and it had been comic at the time of its debut. "I can be very sensitive about whether I am doing something that will hurt people," Brown said. "So you are always drawing the comedy line of what you will or won't do."
- Joe Cobb. "Sounds" (album reviews column), Boston Globe, February 14, 1985, Calendar section, page 7.
- Don Edwards. "'50s not all 'Happy Days' for Bo Diddley", Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, July 8, 1985, page C3: "For a second [Diddley] watched a Home Box Office video, a sadistic parody of 1950s' rock 'n' roll with a song that went: 'Everybody run - the homecoming queen's got a gun ...' Then he turned the dial ... ."
- Rick Bentley. "Mall mining: strip malls are a rich comic vein for Julie Brown's new TV series," Fresno Bee, June 22, 2000, page E3.
- Calvin Gilbert. "More jazz, gospel themes on Poetic Champions" (album reviews), The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), October 2, 1987, "Fun" section, page 2: "Julie Brown is more about comedy than music. The best song title, 'The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun,' is not much more than a 'valley girl' description of what happened that night at the prom."
- Jonathan Taylor. "Insiders, outsiders can learn the business at music symposium," Daily News of Los Angeles, L.A. Life section, page 22.
- "Teenage Tragedies". Discogs. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- Joe Brown. "Girls just wanna rock on (album reviews)," Washington Post Weekend section, January 25, 1985, page 43.
- Phil Kloer. "Tracking -- record reviews -- novelty," The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, November 23, 1985, L28.
- "KROQ Flashback 500 (1996)". Rocklists.com. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "KROQ Flashback 500 (1988)". Rocklists.com. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "Triple J Music specials - J FILES: School Songs". Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J. Retrieved 2008-05-07.