I’m addicted to the ’80s station on my XM satellite radio, which (like so many of my vices these days) I justify as research for my novel. The combination of too-happy beats and kinky, alienated lyrics never fails to provoke my creativity. Also in the name of research, today I switched to the ’90s station to refresh my memory of what bands my Generation-Y heroine might have enjoyed.
As I listened to the lyrics of Jennifer Paige’s hit “Crush“, it seemed to me that I was hearing something new, a genre that really only took off in the 1990s and beyond: the feminist anti-love song. Not a breakup song (like “I Will Survive”), but a girl bragging about her lack of emotional investment in a relationship she still intends to enjoy. Jennifer sings:
It’s raising my adrenalineOther popular examples are Britney Spears’ “Oops! I Did It Again”, and Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women”. In the latter song, from the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack, the trio challenges their potential mates:
You’re banging on a heart of tin
Please don’t make too much of it baby
You say the word “forevermore”
That’s not what I’m looking for
All I can commit to is “maybe”
So let it be what it’ll be
Don’t make a fuss and get crazy over you and me
Here’s what I’ll do
I’ll pay loose
Run like we have a day with destiny
It’s just a little crush (crush)
Not like I faint every time we touch
It’s just some little thing (crush)
Not like everything I do depends on you
Question: Tell me what you think about meDespite the hundreds of hours I’ve spent rediscovering the guilty pleasures of Belinda Carlisle and Laura Branigan, the only analogous song from the ’80s that I can think of is the Eurythmics’ “I Need a Man,” which is a little different because it sounds like it’s being sung by an experienced older woman, not a teen girl. And even there, you can tell that Annie Lennox really needs that man. She’s not taunting him that he’s slightly less important than her new shoes.
I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings
Only ring your cell-y when I’m feelin lonely
When it’s all over please get up and leave
So, gentle reader, am I right — is this a new way of being a girl? What does it mean? Is it possible that we’ll be looking back on the decade of Madonna’s cone-shaped bra and saying how innocent it all was?