Wednesday, July 16, 2014

She Bops; America Blushes

OK, so she's "bopping." What's the big deal? Wait. You mean to tell me she's talking about ... ?


And so, Cyndi Lauper joined the ranks of the Everly Brothers ("All I Have To Do Is Dream"), the Temptations ("Just My Imagination"), Neil Diamond ("Solitary Man"), and Billy Idol ("Dancing With Myself"), and recorded a hit song about ... that funny thing people do.
We-hell, I see them every night in tight blue jeans
In the pages of a blue boy magazine
Hey I've been thinking of a new sensation
I'm picking up a good vibration
Oop she bop

Do I wanna go out with a lion's roar
Huh, yeah, I wanna go south and get me some more
Hey, they say that a stitch in time saves nine
They say I better stop or I'll go blind
Oop she bop she bop

She bop, he bop, a-we bop
I bop, you bop, a-they bop
Be bop, be bop a-lu bop
I don't even understand
She bop, he bop, a-we bop
I bop, you bop, a-they bop
Be bop, be bop a-lu she bop

Hey, hey, they say I better get a chaperon
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
But Cyndi, what are you fretting about? I mean, you wouldn't do anything that could possibly be considered illegal now would you? You're such a good little girl, aren't you? Come here schnoockums, lemme pinch your cheek, lemme pinch your cheek.

"She Bop" is one of those songs that, like the Kinks' "Lola," is just subtle enough, casual listeners might hear it on the radio for years and never quite catch on. Cyndi never comes right out and says, "Hel-lo! I'm talking about masturbation people!" She's a clever one, she is. "I'm picking up a good vibration"? Well, you know, the Beach Boys, those paragons of good Christian white American values, had that song called "Good Vibrations," and the Beach Boys wouldn't sing about masturbation, would they? "I can't stop messin' with the danger zone"? Oh, so now you're gonna tell me Kenny Loggins was talking about masturbation too? Ah, but once it is explained, the listener can never go back again. I love the cosmic shrug of "I don't even understand." Why do people do this? Why do people like doing this? Why are people afraid to talk about doing this? What does it all mean???

I'm not sure the song would really be all that great if it weren't for the chorus. The rest of the single kind of sounds like a slightly uninspired Devo rip-off. But that chorus! I particularly challenge you not to bop your head along when she gets to that little turnaround section of "I don't even understand." I actually prefer the album version over both the single mix and the video remix, but as long as they keep that chorus in there, they can't really foul this one up. Also, according to Wikipedia, "she recorded the song topless in a dark room and tickled herself under her arms." Well, as long as she didn't tickle herself anywhere else.

Anyway, if sheltered '80s listeners hadn't figure out the song's true topic from the lyrics alone, I think the video would have removed any remaining ambiguity. In a world of fast-food automatons, Cyndi steams up the windows of an automobile while thumbing through a copy of Beefcake magazine. Then she imagines she's a contestant on "Uncle Siggy's Masterbingo" (Uncle Siggy apparently being Sigmund Freud). Then she rides a motorcycle into a cartoon world where she finds herself at a gas station with "self service" (wink wink). Finally, there's the showstopping closer, where after a shameful trial, she finds herself banished to a '30s movie set, wearing sunglasses (because she's "gone blind," nudge nudge). Ah, but from offstage, someone throws her a hat and a cane, and she launches into a terrifically choreographed Busby Berkeley dance routine up an endless staircase! I don't even understand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this post through Google and just wanted to say that I'm pretty sure there is at least one or two Brian Wilson songs about masturbation, if not, well I know there is one about getting an enema.