Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Mixed Emotions: Say Anything’s “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 25, 2007

Even The Good Dr. occasionally has trouble making up his mind

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy about four years ago for me to review for Stylus if I liked it, even though I was pretty sure (from the name and my then current anti-emo inclinations) I would hate it, which of course I did. In retrospect, I’d probably still hate it if I heard it today, but I probably should give it props for predicting the success of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco in its sprawling, overwrought nature and self-loathing but narcissistic lyrics. In any event, despite my friend’s assurances that they were gonna be big, I was fairly convinced that they were too ridiculous to ever get seriously popular.

I was sort of right. VH1 tried pimping their awful “Alive With the Glory of Love” for a while, but it peaked at a scant #28 on the Modern Rock chart.I appeared vindicated, however, I recently caught the video for their new single “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” and now I’m thinking of changing my tune. The song’s almost as overwrought as Is a Real Boy, and if at all possible, it’s even more ridiculous, but like their emo brothers in arms Fall Out Boy and The Academy Is, Say Anything have taken the sure path to mainstream success–disco.

It’s bizarre that 2007 is shaping up like this, but emo bands are going disco left and right. For whatever reason, these guys are doing away with their music’s punk roots and embracing their inner hi-hat. Not to say that “Wow, i Can Get Sexual Too” sounds like The Village People or anything, but it does sound a whole lot like Phoenix, which is weird enough to begin with–in fact I can’t really listen to the sleek groove of “Sexual” without being reminded of “Long Distance Call.” It’s definitely a good thing, but a decidedly disarming one.

Say Anything definitely do not take Phoenix’s lead when it comes to lyrics, though–the song seems almost pandering to its core audience, doing everything but namechecking MySpace (“And for eternity I lay in bed / in my boxers, half stoned / with the pillow under my head / I’d be chatting on the interweb”). And the song’s chorus consists of the kind of despicable lyric that makes so many people hate emoers with a passion–“I called her on the phone and she touched herself / she touched herself / she touched herself.” I’m amazed that MTV deems it playable, but I guess if Panic! At the Disco is possible than just about anything is.

Still, that groove. It’s a bold pop move in a year already full of ’em, and it’s one extremely emphasized in the song’s equally star-reaching video, which is equal parts “Drop it Like It’s Hot,” “Rock Your Body” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” It’s surreal to see a genre once so associated with introspection and shyness become so extroverted all of a sudden, these videos have more in common now with Limp Bizkit and Blink-182 then Dashboard Confessional or Taking Back Sunday. Henry Winkler even makes an appearance for no particular reason, giving viewers the pleasure of seeing The Fonz lip synch “she touched herself” repeatedly. Strange times for certain.

It’s one of those songs that’s unbelievably frustrating, because as soon as you decide that you definitely like it, a cringe-worthy lyric comes around to make you second guess yourself, and every time you decide that it’s actually not that great, you get sucked back into the groove and think maybe it’s not so bad after all. I’m still not sure exactly where I stand, but I’m pretty sure that my initial prediction will eventually be proven wrong–I really can’t see any way that this song won’t get utterly massive.

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6 Responses to “Mixed Emotions: Say Anything’s “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too””

  1. I am similarly divided about this song – part of me finds it really catchy, and the rest of me is too busy cataloging the ways in which the combination of self-loathing and entitlement is everything wrong with emo, and everything scary about what it might represent.

    Great video though – that’s an awfully hot nun, and the random Henry Winkler appearance is key.

  2. Jonathan said

    Come on guys, give in! This song is hot! Although, in saying that, I think that the combination of self-loathing and entitlement that Ian identifies is exactly everything right about emo.

    When I hear this track, though, I’m not so much hearing Phoenix or disco or anything so much as the Dismemberment Plan. That’s a classic D-Plan groove right there, and while Travis Morrison wouldn’t have lyrics quite so… um… overtly emo, I could see him heading in that direction.

  3. I’d be a lot more comfortable saying that the mix we’re talking about is everything right about emo, if, like the macho-ness of 300, I wasn’t so sure there are a shockingly large number of people taking it way too seriously.

  4. Jonathan said

    Point taken, I guess, but I’d be more likely to pay it if comedy wasn’t such a big part of Say Anything’s M.O. I mean “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” has some fairly blatant jokes, but it pales in comparison to something like “Every Man Has a Molly,” an earlier track which contains the lyric, “You goddamn kids had best be gracious with the merch money you spend/ cause for you I won’t ever have rough sex with Molly Connolly again.” I’m pretty sure the audience gets that this isn’t meant to be taken 100% seriously.

    Indeed, the whole modern emo genre has such a strong ironic streak that it seems to me there’s quite obviously a sense of self-awareness that wasn’t in, say, the Billy Corgan or Kurt Cobain-penned mopers I was listening to when I was fourteen.

  5. Amber Burgess said

    Jesus Christ, give up the labels. Why does everyone have to label something “emo” or some crap and decide that’s why the don’t like the song. Screw the fact that it is catchy and funny – I’ve heard people call it “emo.” Who cares? It’s good music, it doesn’t matter what it’s labeled.

  6. Heather said

    OMG, I love this song. I think it is so funny. The first time I heard it was on MTV music videos. I have always thought it was hilarious! As soon as the music video was over I had to go to my computer and download it, ever since I listen to it all the time…I love how it starts out…It is so comical…With the title being “Wow I can Get Sexual Too” is seems quite sarcastic, which is just too great! I hope Say Something goes far and is around for a long time…good luck with everything!

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