Celebrity Skin at 20: Courtney Love’s exposé of Hollywood’s seedy underbelly

After becoming the bastions of the ‘no sellout’ grunge set, Hole moved to LA to live out a celebrity nightmare – and make one of rock’s greatest records

In 1994, Hole released their second album, Live Through This. It ends with Rock Star, a vicious kickback against the riot grrrl scene and the “no-sellout” ethos that mingled uneasily with the 90s alternative rock explosion. “We look the same, we talk the same,” sneers Courtney Love, before her disdain unravels into a bark. “Make me real? Fuck you.”

The template for its sequel, Celebrity Skin, which turned 20 this year, was set early on. In 1995, Love said she already had the title, a reference to a soft-porn magazine (and “’cos I touched a lot of it”). Three years later, Celebrity Skin was a rebirth for a band who had weathered so many storms that the album’s dedication – “To all the stolen water of Los Angeles and to anyone who ever drowned” – could have applied to any number of their associates. It was a record that threw off the policed “authenticity” of their musical peers and instead embraced a radio-friendly, Fleetwood Mac-inspired pop-rock that prettified a band who had, up until then, been anything but pretty.

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