Wings

Girlfriend

Song Review by

Wings’ London Town album had a few memorable rockers but devoted most of its time to laid-back balladry that keeps listeners hooked with its slick sense of pop songcraft. One of the best examples of this skill is "Girlfriend," a soul-tinged pop tune that would later be popularized by McCartney’s friend, Michael Jackson. The lyrics strike a playful tone as they present a self-styled romeo telling his romantically-involved object of desire how it’s going to be: "Girlfriend, I’m gonna show your boyfriend/Show him the letters I’ve been saving/Show him how you feel inside/Then our love can’t be denied." McCartney wraps this wistful tale in a dreamy melody that alternates airy verses that float around on high notes with a soulful, earthy bridge that adds a nice bit of emotional grit. Wings’ recording of "Girlfriend" gives the song a radio-friendly arrangement that slickly blends pop, folk, and soul flavors into one tight package: acoustic guitars anchor the sound but sweet string arrangements add extra texture and there is also a surprisingly sharp electric guitar break in the middle. McCartney tops it off with a slick vocal that utilizes a glossy falsetto for the main melody but dips into an impassioned baritone for the bridges. These diverse elements blended beautifully to make a song that seemed like a sure-fire hit but McCartney never issued "Girlfriend" as a single: instead, he gave it to Michael Jackson to re-record for Off The Wall. Jackson’s version added more of a straight, soul-styled gloss to the song (complete with sax solo) that fit it like a glove, thus making "Girlfriend" a standout on two albums.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
London Town 1978 EMI Music Distribution 4:41
Wingspan: Hits and History 2001 Capitol / EMI Records 4:44
Pure McCartney 2016 Hear Music / Virgin EMI 4:42