Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Question.

A blip of a momentary interim post. I apologize again for my endless hiatus, but really: you try chasing after children 8 hours a day—sometimes even for an Overnight (I shudder at the memory)—& see how eager you are to pluck the keyboard strains.

There is, however, something that has been plaguing me. It's been gnawing at the edges of my consciousness since I first heard the offending song played over earbuds in the subway, then on every subsequent listen-through (though, for obvious reasons, there haven't been many)—& really, whenever my brain has the time (& volition) to take a break & turn to pop. It has befuddled & confused, perplexed & dare I say bamboozled—& now, it's time to exorcise my demons:

Why, for the love of all that is holy, does the Britney Spears song "3" list Peter, Paul, & Mary as its three threesomely names?

I mean, of course, after listening to the song at all—or viewing this lifeless excuse for a video—most of the words in that question seem to fall away, leaving one big looming "WHY?" Really now: there are about 157 problems with this song—the amateurish deep voice echoing in the background, the trashy-lewd premise, the insertion of a moan in place of "sex"—but most egregious & most careless is the lyric issue: the issue being, they are painfully stupid. As if Faith Hill hacked up a hairball, or Ryan Seacrest blurted them out during his conversion therapy. So. Fucking. Dumb. As to boggle the mind. I mean, really now, let's take one of the more ridiculous lines to task:

Living in sin is the new thing.

Is it, Britney? Really? Because there are several hundred thousand corpses left over from the Spanish Inquisition who may beg to differ. Perhaps if we hop forward a few hundred years, we could talk to some Antinomians. Maybe even zoom ahead to the underground clubs of the '80s & '90s—results of the sexual revolution that flowed right alongside your three favorite folksingers. My point is not that a pop song need be a history lesson, but that every source in which words are spoken should stray from asinine generalizations, no matter how alliterative. (Also, how sick is it that in the edited version—the one showcased in the video above—this already frustrating line was altered to "living like this"; that someone in marketing thought a mere mention of "sin" would tank the song's sales. Someone, please—I dare you to deny we're slipping into a theocracy.)

But back to my main point—that is, the naming of '60s folk trios—because this one is an easy fix. Three names. That's all you need: in a threesome, there are three people, & therefore three names. Any three names would, in fact, have been better than Peter, Paul, & Mary: they sang "Leaving on a Jetplane," for fuck's sake! "Blowin' in the Wind"! "Puff the Magic Dragon"! They are perhaps the least inherently sordid human beings possible—& not even really in an interesting or ironic way.

What I mean is, if she (oh, who are we kidding: her various publicists & lyricists) were interested in sullying the sacred—perhaps to live better in sin, as I hear it's the new thing—why not pick three biblical characters who didn't sing folk songs, who actually interacted in a way that could be spun lewdly? (The Three Kings, anybody?) & honestly, if you're going down that road, you have THE FREAKIN' HOLY TRINITY staring you right in the face.

There is, of course, the distinct possibility that the people who barfed out this song at coke o'clock on a Tuesday just couldn't think of another trio ending in "-ee" to fit the syllable count. I have taken the past minute & a half to come up with some examples:

"Athos, Porthos, Aramis" (If pronounced Frenchly.)

"Heaven, Hell, Purgat'ry"

or, the perfectly innocent: "Jack, Jill, & Britney."

Any of those—or, really, anything at all—would have been better than what stays, etched into the fiber of so much cheap plastic. Because really, Peter, Paul, & Mary are just awkwardly tepid—not sexless, but not sexy—& therefore an exquisitely poor choice.

That is all.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll—Hunx & His Punx.

I am obsessed with this song—& its video. Not only does it combine every pop culture facet I adore—cheeky, punky (in the original sense), straight out of a John Waters movie—but it's also catchy as all calamity, while being simple & basically perfect & speaking the motherfucking truth: You don't like rock 'n' roll, & I don't like you, indeed.


  1. It's at least possible that the lyricist thought it hilarious b/c cleverly ironic to refer to people engaged in threeway sex by the names of three squeakily wholesome folkies from the sixties. I mean, the idea of those guys in a sexual threesome is kinda funny. What I think is interesting about choosing those names, though, is that they implicitly fly in the face of the kneejerk, heteronomative, homosexual-panic-structured picture of the threeway sex scene as composed of a guy & two bi-curious girls. Britney seems to want to suggest that she's into seeing two guys be together. mmmm, indeed. :)

  2. I absolutely get where you—&, I imagine, Ms. Spears's lyricists—are coming from, but it just doesn't quite work for me. Maybe because I inevitably think of super-aged, reunion-tour-mode Peter, Paul, & Mary, & that's just not pleasant, let alone sexy by anyone's standard. Also, I just... It's not like they were particularly unsexy. Or, well—squeaky clean, I guess, but I think the irony could be more potent.

    Still, I do agree that the subversion of the traditional "hawt threesome" dynamic is fairly excellent.

  3. Also of note: Mary Travers, the aforementioned "Mary," died a mere 13 DAYS after this song was released....?!?