"Don't Stand So Close To Me"

It's no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like that old man in
That book by Nabokov

It's nice when others do my work for me. Though I must add three things:

1) The cartoon character is being dense; everyone knows this is a reference to "Lolita" (probably the greatest novel ever written).

2) My bigger criticism is that it's an awkward and dumb way to reference "Lolita". Better than "Just like that old guy in that thingy with the, you know, pages and writing and stuff, by that Russian dude", but not much.

3) No, I was not beaten by a songwriter as a child.


Back to back
Spineless movement
And a wild attack

"Rapture" is most famous for being the first number one song to feature rapping since Lorne Greene's "Ringo". However, clumsy rhymes (even by the old-school standards of the day) about a disco-era Purple People-Eater somehow failed to bring rap into the mainstream; it was also the last number one song to feature rapping until Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" ten years later. And of course rap took after that.

To a ten-year-old boy like myself, this was just about the coolest song ever. A man from Mars! Eating cars! And bars! And guitars! What's not to love? I especially enjoyed imagining the guitar player fighting with the Man from Mars during the solo at the end. Yet I never gave much thought to what Debbie Harry was singing in the rest of the song. So I looked it up. And... huh?

According to Wikipedia,"the sacroiliac joint is the joint between the sacrum, at the base of the spine, and the ilium of the pelvis, which are joined by ligaments. It is a strong, weightbearing synovial joint with irregular elevations and depressions that produce interlocking of the bones." Well that's even sillier than a club-hopping alien who ate your head.

It's a strange word to have in a song that's not a mnemonic tune designed to help med students in their anatomy classes. ("The hip bone's connected to the sacroiliac bone...") It's even stranger that the word is just hanging there as if it were a common interjection, like "Spleen!" or "Pancreas!". A sentence is called for, or at least a phrase.

Perhaps "Total Eclipse Of The Sacroiliac"? (Can one turn around with an eclipsed sacroiliac?)

"Blinded By The Light"

Blinded by the light
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night

You might have once wondered why anyone would sing a song about there being a "bathroom on the right". Perhaps you've gotten an interesting mental image upon hearing "she's got electric boobs, a nowhere suit". And most certainly, you had to have thought that "excuse me while I kiss this guy" is an odd way to introduce a smoking guitar riff.

Usually, when told of the correct lyrics, it all makes sense. Or at least we stop hearing the wrong ones (I still don't know what "electric boots" are). Usually. For no matter how many times I have to remind myself of the real lyrics, there is no way Manfred Mann is not singing "wrapped up like a douche". I'm not clear on what that even means, but then again I'm not clear on "revved up like a deuce", either. Something about cars, I've heard. But it doesn't matter, because it's clear as day: "wrapped up like a douche".

(Also, he clearly sings "another roller in the night", but it's more funny to riff on "douche".)

Fisher-Price Amazing Animals Sing and Go Choo-Choo

Polar bears live where it's cold
Lions like it hot!
Tigers can run very fast
And hippos can not

If you have a child around the age of one, you can almost certainly sing along. This is quite a popular toy from Fisher-Price, which specializes in adorable toys that belt out annoying songs. I once wanted to buy their tiger-and-cub toy for our baby daughter (>go Tigers!), until I touched the darn thing and set it to singing. Two-and-a-half seconds was all it took to convince me that I really didn't want that in my house.

Our daughter got the train for Christmas. Turned off, it's rather cute. Turned on, and you have to endure very loud and insipid songs when the right buttons are pressed. The main song invites us to hop on board the animal train, because learning about an-i-MALS (yes, emphasis on the last syllable - the Fisher-Price demons have truly thought of everything) is "really lots of fun!!" Or so they say. The half-shouting, half-pleading tone of that line makes it sound like they're trying to convince themselves as much as they're trying to convince our children.

So what sort of fun learning do we get from the toy? Another song tells us that polar bears live where it's cold, check. Lions like it hot... well, it's hard to say whether they truly like it or if they just endure it, but okay. Tigers can run fast, no question. What about hippos (or hip-POS, as the song goes)?

A side note: songs for children do get lots of lyrical leeway here; I know they shouldn't be judged in the same way that a normal pop song can be.

And yet, this is a toy that purports to be somewhat educational. It should not be getting basic facts wrong. Especially when said wrong information can get our daughter killed! If you happen to find yourself amongst a herd of hippopotamuses one day, don't let your memories of this song (if you have the toy, it will be burned into your brain) lull you into a false sense of security. Despite what the song would have us believe, hippos can run really fast! Not as fast as tigers, but certainly faster than you. And they'll take full advantage of that speed; by many accounts they're the most dangerous animal in the world.

Fisher-Price should not be so cavalier with our children's safety. Here's hoping for a massive product recall (please?)

"Making Love Out Of Nothing At All"

I can make the runner stumble
I can make the final block
And I can make every tackle at the sound of the whistle
And I can make all the stadiums rock

Of all the crazy things kids do in college, singing "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" to annoy your roommates is probably the lamest. Nobody remembers exactly who started it or why, but we all remember that it became our room's unofficial theme song, we sang it so much. We even once called in a song request to a local adult contemporary radio station (STAR 104.5). Remember kids that this was in the days before you could steal any song you'd like over the internet. If the local record store didn't have what you wanted to hear, you'd have to hope you could get through to the local radio station and have a deejay take pity on you. Because we sure as heck weren't going to ask our friends if they had this song so we could tape it from them.

The deejay at STAR 104.5 did take pity on us - well, he was quite cool about it. He laughed at our unusual request and said he'd be willing to play it, but he'd have to check with the manager. When we called back a half-hour later, the deejay gave us the manager's response: "Are you *kidding* me?" So no song for us - the station was pretty soft, but apparently not that soft.

So I do have a soft spot for this song, as it reminds me of my wild college days. Some may describe the song as creepy and pathetic, but there are some pretty, if melodramatic (what Jim Steinman song isn't?), lyrics in there. The ones I quote above aren't those.

Certainly, I have no issue with the guys from Air Supply playing football (or presumably, Australian Rules football). One can sing sappy ballads without being a total wimp (see also James Blunt). I'm not on board with their stadium-rocking ability, however. It doesn't seem like their forte.

The song was originally written for Meat Loaf (as was "Total Eclipse of the Heart", by the way) - you can totally see him singing it, right? - so the lyric would make a little more sense coming from him. Not coming from a band who was deemed too soft to play on STAR 104.5.