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 passÁ© 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.

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