Top Ten Worst Propositions
ost songs are about love: finding it, being awash in it, losing it at the mall. And between conclusions drawn from pubescent discussions with Mom & Dad and a bit of logical finagling, one could just as soon claim that most songs are about sex too. It’s the unmentioned epilogue to every love song and the silver lining to every happily forever after. Some musicians artfully express carnal desire through veiled poetics and slick euphemisms but too many barely make it out of the gate. Figuring out where one begins and the other ends requires all kinds of things getting stuck under fingernails. But there is nothing as transparent as the sexual proposition cum fumbled love song. Pop’s bone yard contains multitudes of these tracks that couldn’t tread the subtle ambiguities of the love/lust binary. Consider this your consumer guide on when to say no.
Bloodhound Gang - Bad Touch
When Cole Porter penned “Let’s Misbehave” he introduced the birds and bees euphemism into the pop canon, “They say the Spring means just one thing to little love birds / We’re not above birds / Let’s misbehave.” Generations later, nature motifs stick and Hambones blast Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch” (you know, “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals” and so on). Soiled mattress biologist Jimmy Pop gets to the bottom of the human experience and obliquely invokes Darwin to conclude that doing it is where it’s always been at, from protozoa since.
Verdict: Not legal in most states.
The Raspberries - Go All the Way
Eric Carmen is your too-hasty boyfriend. This is the backseat of his Dad’s Pontiac. These are his trite, and ultimately unconvincing words “Please, baby, go all the way.” Well, that’s not exactly how it goes in the song, actually, it’s the anonymous she that asks to seal the deal. But things were probably twisted during the songwriting process. This is not Carmen’s perfect world, where women do the propositioning while he wistfully describes his transformation from teenage skeletor to livin’ lovin’ man between coital screams (“Mama, mama yeah yeah!”).
Verdict: The cultural arbiters at the BBC banned the song.
Too $hort - Don’t Fight the Feelin’
Say ho,Too $hort, always the pragmatist, saves everyone eight minutes and gets to the point. But we listen on anyway and find that Cash-Money-Hoes speciousness is always complicated, especially when it goes meta. Too $hort’s unabashedly misogynist verses are followed up by an unnamed Femcee. Needless to say, she isn’t buying and the unfortunate alias Too $hort provides a steady stream of one-liners. But it’s all to no avail. Too $hort calls in reinforcements from fellow dude Rappin 4-Tay. And this being Too $hort’s song, he’s given the last word, which just rehashes his chauvinist agenda.
Can I ask you a question?
You like to fuck?
Verdict: Too $hort: 0 Ladies: 0
Buzzcocks - Why Can’t I Touch It
Fine purveyors of adolescent sturm und drang, Buzzcocks’ awkward frustrations reach their paragon in “Why Can’t I Touch it” and accidentally reveal why they’re so frustrated in the first place. Nerd loving has always been a niche market. And while Pete Shelley’s moans never lack personality, they are bankrupt of panache. Poverty of je ne sais quoi has the same effect across the board: zippers and buttons become impenetrable and overdriven senses eclipse reason. Though Shelley’s repeated cries of “Why can’t I touch it?” only become more delirious and sweated, the song refuses resolution.
Verdict: Lyrical blue balls is not an urban myth.
Beach Boys - Help Me, Rhonda
Painfully glib, “Help Me, Rhonda” buries a failed courtship and romantic dire straits under Al Jardine’s hyper-repetitive plea. While the lyrical account suggests Jardine’s heart has rolled right off his sleeve and onto the pavement, the tune refuses to do anything but lilt. Focal point Rhonda is the rebound girl par excellence—she’s hot and, uh, interesting. And he’s desperate. Playing the emotional lemon, Jardine just complains about his ex and begs.
Verdict: Caroline, No.
Bread - Make It With You
Care Bear friendly lyric “I may be climbing on rainbows” sums it up: this song is not only tawdry but completely improbable. No pyrotechnics, just rhyming couplets, benign strings, and flaccid crooning, yet David Gates seems assured of his ability to make it with you. Lyrics presume that there were graphs and flow charts, Gates listed opportunity costs and, yes, you are the most qualified candidate. Will you be the one to “help him through”?
Verdict: There will be scented candles, but they will be vanilla.
The Beatles - I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
A lust so powerful, it coerces John Lennon into thick-tongued day dreaming, taking ten seconds of song and stretching it over eight minutes of reel. A lust so powerful, it coerces John Lennon into thick-tongued day dreaming, taking ten seconds of song and stretching it over eight minutes of reel. A lust so powerful, it coerces John Lennon into thick-tongued day dreaming, taking ten seconds of song and stretching it over eight minutes of reel.
Verdict: A lust so powerful, it coerces John Lennon into thick-tongued day dreaming, taking ten seconds of song and stretching it over eight minutes of reel.
Michael Jackson - One More Chance
2003’s futile attempt to revive Jacko circa ’90. More splayed allegory than no bones love song, “One More Chance” is Jacko’s fourth quarter, Hail Mary for the hearts and minds of his pop kingdom. The narrative reads easy: he’s out in the cold and it’s raining (bad press). And lightning (subpoenas) looms. Will you, estranged lover (fickle American audience), let Jacko back? Help him “make these mysteries unfold”? But America knew better than to buy into R. Kelly’s leftovers of drippy synths and soul-inflicted boom bap, cementing Jackson forever as a cultural lame duck.
Verdict: (Don’t) Want You Back.
Elvis Presley - Baby Let’s Play House
He’s not talking about the Playskool My First Kitchenette either. With the trademark rockabilly shuffle and pulsated yelps of his Sun Records days, the lyrics of “Baby Let’s Play House” inch towards the bizarre with each successive verse. So he’s been dumped, but hope’s a-glimmering! Surely the King can turn a cloying euphemism and a lyrically staid chorus into success. But Elvis shirks the coy pandering and makes his point clear “I’d rather see you dead little girl / Than to see you with another man.” John Lennon revisits the line for his equally unnerving “Run for Your Life.”
Verdict: Stay the hell away from Elvis and Lennon.
Roy Orbison - Pretty Woman
A three minute string of compliments to said pretty woman punctuated with Orbison’s own insecurities (“Are you lonely just like me,” “Don’t make me cry,” “I need you”). But this beauty is worth all the gurgled growls and mercies! and he begs with every cliché he can muster proving nice guys finish last—better luck next time, Roy. Wait. She’s walking back? Whatever, Roy, you win.
By: Daniel Denorch
Published on: 2007-02-06