Clueless is a perfect film. Between the music, the aesthetic and the catch phrases, it is a masterpiece of its time, and no scene is more emblematic of that frivolous brand of fun than the makeover scene.
When Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) give their new, “totally clueless”, friend Tai (Brittany Murphy) a complete makeover, it is peak 90s teen film. It’s also a scene that demonstrates the power of soundtracking.
Undoubtedly, the makeover scene wouldn’t be nearly as glorious without the sweet sound of ‘Supermodel’ by Jill Sobule energising the whole thing.
In case you weren’t across this little nugget of Clueless trivia, the song ‘Supermodel’ was actually written especially for not just the movie, but this specific scene.
In Entertainment Weekly‘s deep dive into the makeover scenes of romcoms past, the Clueless music supervisor Karan Rachtman explains how the iconic track came to be.
Apparently David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ was originally the temp track for the makeover scene, but Rachtman wanted something fresher. In the end she hired David Baerwald to write ‘Supermodel’, and Jill Sobule to record it.
“He is one of the rare songwriters that will do research and actually write for the picture,” Rachtman says. “The research was Sassy Magazine. That’s where he got lyrical ideas about ‘writing school reports about how much she loves her jeans.’ Even though none of them want to be ‘Super Models,’ the idea of the word made sense.”
Looking back over the lyrics, it now makes sense why the song fits so perfectly into the Clueless universe. The highlights of capturing that teen girl energy are in the chorus’s anthem that “I’m young/ and I’m hip/ and so beautiful.”
The lowlight is definitely the bridge in which Sobule speaks,
“I didn’t eat yesterday/ I’m not gonna eat today/ I‘m not gonna eat tomorrow/ Cause I’m gonna be a supermodel!”
Clueless was of a time before the trivialisation of eating disorders on screen was widely criticised, and this lyric – along with Cher’s guilty admission of eating like a “total heffer” – are an unfortunate inclusion in what is otherwise such a fantastic film.
But 90s content is an all-too-easy target for criticism, and in spite of some disappointing lyrics, Clueless and its musical masterpiece ‘Supermodel’ aren’t going to be ‘cancelled’ any time soon.