Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, February 2, 2007 6:59 am

Aural virus for Feb. 1*

Filed under: Aural viruses — Lex @ 6:59 am

Another new category: aural viruses, which are songs that get up in your head without so much as a by-your-leave, then sit around eating your brain cells. Sort of like an annoying in-law, only slightly more responsive to yelling. I get these almost every day, often in the shower (which is only one of many reasons why I’ve never bought a shower radio). Whether it’s because of a mental disorder or my misspent youth in the music/radio bidness, I can’t say.

Today’s is actually not a bad one by the standards of the virus genre, and because it’s not so bad and therefore elicits a reaction beyond brief and harsh emesis, I’ll write about it in a bit more detail than you’ll probably be able to expect on upcoming subjects in this category. It’s “Kiss the Girl,” written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and performed by Samuel E. Wright in the 1988 animated Disney movie “The Little Mermaid” as a kind of calypso piece. It was later covered by, among others, Soul II Soul, whose version I haven’t heard but might like to. More recently, it has been covered as a more straight-ahead pop-rock number by another Disney creation, Ashley Tisdale, and I’ve been exposed to it because it’s in heavy rotation at Radio Disney, which my kids like to have on in the car. Her version isn’t bad either, except for the faux-ethereal ooo-ing and ah-ing in the intro and bridge.

I can think of two versions that haven’t been recorded that I would like to hear. One is by the late, great North Carolina band The Pressure Boys. Their heavily ska-ish sound, flavored with trumpet, trombone and sax, strikes me as a potentially interesting variation on the calypso tune.

The other would be an arrangement and vocal interpretation by Sting. Sounds weird, but think back 25 years to “Every Breath You Take.” What made that song so striking was the contrast between the sunny lyrics and the underlying emotion — it turned an ostensible love paean to a creepy stalker anthem. “Kiss the Girl” is vulnerable to even more extreme interpretation. Consider these lyrics:

Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
It’s possible she wants you too
There’s one way to ask her
It don’t take a word, not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl

Is the narrator just playing Cyrano, suggesting how the guy (or, for that matter, girl) he addresses might spark some romance? Or is he (or, even more creepily, she) trying to solicit a sexual assault by proxy?

Given that that third line could be honest speculation or self-delusion, and betrays a sense of entitlement all too common in rapists and abusers, I guess it’s all in how you sing it.

*Yesterday’s virus, but I didn’t get to write the post until today. Haven’t had a virus today, but haven’t had a shower yet, either. See Paragraph 1.

(UPDATE: Minor edits for clarity; comments now enabled.)

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2 Comments

  1. Funny you should write about this now. My wife and I watched “The Commitments” the other night, and I’ve had “Destination Anywhere” on the brain for two days. At least it’s a good song (from a great movie).

    Comment by Blair — Saturday, February 3, 2007 2:14 am @ 2:14 am

  2. What I want to know is why I can’t contract “Dark End of the Street.” Probably because it’s too beneficial to be considered a virus.

    Ditto, in the “Commitments” soundtrack genre, pretty much anything by Solomon Burke.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, February 3, 2007 2:49 pm @ 2:49 pm


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