Leave Regular Radio Behind
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

A 'New Girl' Who Combines Old Sounds

Brittany Snow performs a credible throwback that combines multiple strains of girl-group pop.
Evan Agostini, Getty Images Entertainment
Brittany Snow performs a credible throwback that combines multiple strains of girl-group pop.

"The New Girl In Town" is the type of song that doesn't usually win Academy Awards, or even get nominated, but maybe it should be. Performed, within the world of Hairspray, by Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) as her bid for teen-pop stardom on the Corny Collins Show, it does what any good song from a musical should do: It reflects the singer's perspective on the plot at that moment. As an added bonus, it even hits on another underlying theme of the movie, which is the way that the white kids co-opt the music and dancing of the black kids.

But in a way, none of that really matters, since "The New Girl In Town" stands on its own as a nearly pitch-perfect example of the type of music it's supposed to be. The movie-musical brightness of the production notwithstanding, it's a credible throwback that combines multiple strains of girl-group pop. Starting out as a rip-her-to-shreds song, it shifts to I'll-cry-if-I-want-to mode before veering at the last moment into an automotive fatality. In unpacking all three from that moving van while still infusing the song with wit and sass, composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman create the illusion of effortlessness, thus rendering their hard work practically invisible.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Hirsh
Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.