AV Club: “Glamour Girls”, music choices & the complicated strides of modern Nollywood

A great encapsulation of where mainstream Nigerian filmmaking is

The recently released Netflix film, “Glamour Girls”, is a reimagined follow-up to the classic 1994 Nollywood film of the same name, taking place in the same universe as the original.  It similarly follows a group of escorts as they try to import the glamour mentioned in the title into their own lives.

The new “Glamour Girls” is an interesting creation. It carries on similar themes from the original film, with a group of women trying to make their way in a patriarchal world, using the tools that they have. The character Emmanuella’s arc, in particular, shows us the amount of effort that goes into becoming a success in that industry industry.

Superbly played by Sharon Ooja, Emmanuella starts off barely able to support her siblings on a stripper’s salary. After getting fired from her job, she goes to Donna, a madam who has a day job as an interior designer. After being rejected for appearing too uncouth, she then has to go through a makeover to appear polished enough to attract high class clients. Even after she attracts one such person in Segun and gets a legitimate job as a bank manager, her work as a stripper is used to belittle and humiliate her, even by the man who benefits from her sexuality, as Segun orders her to strip for him in a moment of cruelty.

In these moments, the audience is called to sympathise with the characters as they try to make it in the world. The story is refreshingly non-judgmental towards sex workers, who are often either entirely demonised or typically victimised in Nollywood. In “Glamour Girls”, the escorts are far from heroic, but are still portrayed as people to emphasise with.

Despite similar themes, putting the 2022 film and the original side by side in many ways shows us how far Nollywood has come since the 90s. The high definition shots of luxury yachts and private planes shows a level of production value that would have previously sounded inconceivable.


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The soundtrack also exemplifies the state of modern Nigerian entertainment. The film uses many songs that would be considered ‘alté’. The fact that songs by artists walking the more alternative side of Nigerian music, from AYLØ and SGawD to Seo and Wani, score such a mainstream film shows how much the music industry in Nigeria has advanced in the past few years. The song choices reinforces the aesthetic of “Glamour Girls” as a modern film with a progressive ethos, but those choices also don’t always properly align with the film’s context or fully enhance the scenes they accompany.

For example, when SGawD and Somadina’s “Pop Shit” rings off around the top of the film, it sets a slick tone as we see the bustling city of Lagos. The song is poorly mixed with the rest of the audio however, making it difficult to hear the characters dialogue. This distracting sound design makes the song feel like it goes on for far too long, giving the scene it plays over the feel of an awkwardly made music video, especially as the song swells back in for a few seconds in the next scene, as Donna is on the phone.

Other songs just feel generally misplaced. The triumphant song, “My Time” is played over a scene where Emmanuella storms back into Donna’s office after being kicked out, vouching for herself, in a moment that the soundtrack signals should be very emotional. The issue is, this happens in the first fifteen minutes of the film. It is hard to feel anything apart from mildly impressed for a character we barely know at that point, so the use of such an intense song feels quite premature.

In what should be an iconic moment, “Glamour Girls Jam Mixed” plays over a scene where the escorts, including a freshly made over Emmanuella, go for a night out together for the first time. Unfortunately, the issues with the sound mixing combined with awkward framing makes the scene feel unintentionally cheesy instead.

There are many things that stop “Glamour Girls” from being truly great. Throughout the film, shots with very uninspired framing linger for far too long, making ‘big’ moments come across very flat. The unfocused pace of the plot with many moving parts also makes the story feel very loose and confused. All of this makes the film feel like it should make up the opening episodes in a TV show, as the whole thing lacks a certain cinematic quality.

“Glamour Girls” is a film that shows what impressive progress the Nigerian film industry has made overall. Far more focus is being put into production quality than ever before, and music that would have previously only been for niche audiences are now featured throughout a mainstream production. The film, however, still has a myriad of issues that stop it from being a truly memorable film past being a sign of progress. This is unfortunate, but also just evidence of where the Nigerian film industry is, an industry in which many strides have been made but where there is still a long way to go.