In the spring of 1995, I had a brief but odd obsession with The Brady Bunch Movie. It’s probably because it collided my first pop culture object of whimsy with my then-latest one: an encyclopedic knowledge of The Brady Bunch gained via endless after-school reruns, and a love of cleverly-written meta-humor, respectively. I saw The Brady Bunch Movie three times in the theater, which placed without explanation the groovy Bradys of the ‘70s into the dirty and cruel ‘90s. A lot of the humor derives from the juxtaposition of the flower print aesthetics with the trappings of grunge, even though grunge was quite passé by 1995.
But that sets up one of the movie’s best interludes: 50-year-old Davy Jones of the Monkees shows up to play Marcia’s school dance, because Marcia is” his biggest fan” and wrote him a letter asking him to. (Presumably, he showed up out of flattery and shock that he’d be wanted at a high school dance in 1995.) The dance already has a menacing grunge band playing, but Jones leads them in what’s supposed to be an improvised modern-day update on Jones’ hit 1971 single “Girl.” Marcia, and her teachers, who were Marcia’s age in 1971, flock to the stage. Frothy ‘70s teen pop collides with ‘90s angst rock, the planets align, etc.
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This is all, of course, an extended reference to a 1971 Brady Bunch episode, in which Marcia persuades the teen idol Jones to play her school dance. Featured prominently in that episode: Jones’ hit single “Girl.”
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But “Girl” was never a hit. Not in 1971 before the Brady Bunch episode, not after the Brady Bunch episode gave it a boost, and certainly not in 1995. So much carefully managed manipulation and inference to convince us twice that this was a big hit, or at least a big teen idol hit, and it just wasn’t. In fact, despite being the dreamiest Monkee among teenage girls, Jones' solo career never really took off. He had just one post-Monkees chart appearance, with "Rainy Jane" reaching #52 on Billboard earlier in 1971. (Surprisingly, the only Monkee with a solo top 40 hit was the reluctant one and Liquid Paper prince Michael Nesmith, who hit #21 with "Joanne" in 1970.)
So then it shouldn’t have been too hard for Marcia to get Davy Jones for the dance, either in 1995 or 1971.