Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Kind of Love That Fits Hand in Glove

We've all been there, or at least passed the off-ramp: when it's nearing midnight day/week/weekend that may have been pleasant and productive enough, but for whatever reason you remain just a bit...restless, just short of satisfaction, unable to fully shut down or harboring the slightest nagging feeling about something yet left undone, often complicated further by a lack of another sentient being in the vicinity from whom you could feasibly solicit assistance in resolving the issue. It's a damning little nuisance of a conundrum, and one that, I'd boldly venture to guess, is hardly an uncommon occurrence for a large portion of the population. What to do?


Apparently this kind of less-than-ideal circumstance discriminates not by class, wealth, or fame, a sort of great equalizer between celebrity and plebeian. And seeing as commonplace personal conflict supplies such a generous amount of material for contemporary pop music artistic creation, it makes sense that the topic shows up in the repertoires of some of the medium's biggest (usually female) artists, as much as the nature of the matter dictates the unique indirectness with which it is approached. Herein we compare and contrast a few of the more prominent recent examples of such serenades on self-fulfillment, because after all, if we don't do it ourselves, who will?
"She Bop" Cyndi Lauper (She's So Unusual, Epic Records, 1984)

Five years before Madonna got a gospel choir to help her sing about blowjobs, her one-time rival for the Queen of Pop title (and original front-runner, believe it or not) scarred the first of the overprotective Generation X parents with her third single from her debut album She's So Unusual. In case you ever wondered why cd cases now come emblazoned with parental warning labels like cigarette cartons, here's one of your culprits: "She Bop" was one of the offending items on the infamous "Filthy Fifteen" list compiled by the new censors...sorry, I mean the National Parent Teacher Association...in support of their efforts to control their precious children's access to anything having to do with the act with which they were created.
Sample lyric:

They say I better get a chaperone
Because I can't stop messin' with the danger zone.
No, I won't worry, and I won't fret
Ain't no law against it yet.
Subtlety: B-
Musical Achievement: B
Suggested Penance: Minimal (maybe just brush your teeth)



Lady Gaga - "So Happy I Could Die" (The Fame Monster, Streamline/Konlive/Cherrytree/Interscope, 2009)

By the time Lady Gaga's extended re-release of her 2008 debut album The Fame (as The Fame Monster), everyone was pretty familiar with the new pop icon's penchant for riding disco sticks and bad romance in her rear window. This down-tempo, glammed up electro-pop number, the penultimate track of the eight new offerings on The Fame Monster, follows tracks referencing anal sex, anonymous liaisons, and one devoted entirely to a particularly well-endowed paramour, almost as reassurance that the Gaga is indeed capable of giving herself a hand on the seemingly rare occasions one isn't already being offered. Which is good, because we were a little worried.
Sample lyric:

I am as vain as I allow
I do my hair, I gloss my eyes;
I touch myself all through the night.
Subtlety: C
Musical Achievement: B+
Suggested Penance: For this track alone, two Hail Marys and some antibacterial soap. For entire EP, fifteen minutes quality time at confession.



Bernadette Peters - "Making Love Alone" (Saturday Night Live 1981/Sondheim, Etc. Live From Carnegie Hall, Angel Records, 1987)

 In 1981, the frizzy-haired Broadway star showed up for a guest hosting gig at 30 Rockefeller for the relatively new late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live, and performed this belly laugh-inducing ode to manual labor (surely the ancestor of the recent output by fictional SNL group The Lonely Island). She reprised her performance six years later for an appreciative high-class crowd in her first concert outing at Carnegie Hall in a night otherwise devoted to notoriously droll songwriter Stephen Sondheim (after apologizing to the ghosts of the famed concert hall). Sample lyric:
 
Who can describe the special sweetness of knowing the speed that you're going is right?
And is there anything as thrilling as trying to keep the book open to page 24 all night?
Subtlety: D-
Musical Achievement: B+
Suggested Penance: A forced viewing of either The Love Guru or A Night at the Roxbury.



Britney Spears - "Touch of My Hand" (In the Zone, Jive Records, 2003)

The girl who once declared (without discernable irony) her intention to remain a virgin until marriage must have gotten one hell of a sexual education during her Camelot-like romance with fellow teen pop idol Justin Timberlake, because as soon as the then 22 year old pop princess largely took over creative control on her fourth album, 2003's In the Zone, it was pretty clear that she'd had her first taste of the forbidden fruit and boy did she ever want more. Perhaps the bluntest example of her refreshing newly discovered sexual freedom was the cooly sensual candlelight electro-ballad "Touch of My Hand," a feat of self-love to rival any single by Jay-Z (albeit in a much less egotistical manner). Sample lyric:
 
And I just discovered
Imagination taking over.
Another day without a lover,
The more I come to understand
The touch of my hand.
Subtlety: B
Musical Achievement: B
Suggested Penance: Scraping the candle wax from all bedroom surfaces and airing out the smell of incense and lubricant.


Pink - "Fingers" (I'm Not Dead, LaFace Records, 2006)

On this now almost impossible to find bonus track to her 2006 album I'm Not Dead, not only does pop rocker Pink let us in on her nighttime mischief-making, she leads us on an all-access tour of the whole filthy scene. With a killer beat, knowingly naughty tone and full audio performance of a semi-stifled orgasm to finish things off, "Fingers" is easily the filthiest and sexiest track the dynamically fun pop bad girl has yet delivered.  
Sample lyric:
Rewind and you will see 
Why in the morning I'm happy 
Right there on the tv screen 
Me vengo, me vengo!
Subtlety: D-  
Musical Achievement: A  
Suggested Penance: A thorough cold shower!


Now go take that shower.
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