Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Say Anything: Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 16, 2007

“I wish it could just be simple, like a retro pop song, ‘I Want You to Want Me.’ Boom. End of story. We all live happily ever after. But it is never really like that, is it?”

The 1979 Power Pop classic, which languished in obscurity until it had the good fortune to be covered by Letters to Cleo on the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack. Here goes nothing:

  • I want YOU…to want…ME!” I always thought this was a particularly ingenious way to introduce the song, emphasizing both the title/hook’s simplicity and the urgent importance of the sentiments contained within. Then I actually listened to At Budokan, and I realized that this is just the way Robin Zander introduces pretty much all their songs (“BIG…EYES!!!” “NEEDYOUR…LOVE!!”) Oh well.
  • Does that opening drumbeat remind anyone else of Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”? Whenever I hear it, I half expect Robin to start going “Are you ready Rick? (Yes, Robin) Are you ready Tom? (Yes, Robin) Are you ready, Bun E.? (Yes, Robin). Well all right then….LET’S GOOOOOOOO!!!!
  • Speaking of which: Bun E. Carlos–greatest name in the history of rock drummers? Or at the very least, most appropriate? (That’s him, third from the left in the pic above, as if you even needed me to tell you).
  • Speaking of which: Why does everyone preaching the greatness of Cheap Trick always seem to point out that they had two pretty boys and two ugly dudes in the band, as if that spoke to some brilliant tension in the band’s music, based on their two factions of warring attractiveness? “I dunno Rick, that hook sounds a little too pretty to me, let’s ugly it up a little, huh?” “Oh, Bun E. Carlos, that’s your solution for everything!
  • Most underrated section of the song by far: The “Shine up my old brown shoes, put on a brand new shirt” part, which does a brilliant job of providing the transition between the song’s two more unforgettable choruses. The bass dropping on the “If you say that you love me” line gives me chills, or at least it probably would if it was cold outside and I wasn’t wearing a jacket. The “come home early from work” line always struck me as highly irresponsible, though–c’mon guys, we’re not all millionaire rock stars who can skip out on our nine to fives at a moment’s impulse.
  • What’s with the Japanese audiences shrieking out “RUHHH, RUHHH, RUHHH!!!!” after every “Didn’t I didn’t I didn’t I see ya cryin’?” at the Budokan performance? Is that supposed to correspond to something musical in the song? Is it like a “Sweet Caroline” “BAH BAH BAHHHH!!!” audience participation thing? What do the Japanese know that we don’t?
  • Speaking of which: Is it really as easy as it seems to get big in Japan? Based on this album, as well as one of the best scenes in my all-time favorite non-fictional mockumentary, DiG!, it would appear that the answer is yes. But does that mean that bands that start out and stay popular in the US never make it over there? Have they ever even heard of Pearl Jam, for instance? Or is Japan just the great consolation prize of pop music?
  • “FEELINALLALONEWITHOUTAFRIENDYAKNOWYAFEELLIKEDYIN!!” How long did it take you to figure out what they were saying in this part of the chorus? It’s like they wasted all the rest of the song’s space on repeating the song’s two main hooks, so they had to cram all the rest into one measure. If it wasn’t for doing the song karaoke, I probably would still have no idea.
  • Lindsay Lohan’s cover of this song: surprisingly decent. Though I fail to see how it qualifies as either A Little More Personal or (RAW).
  • Speaking of which: Have you ever heard the original version of this thing? It’s fuckin’ WEEEEEIRD, man–all temperate and piano-y and with haromies and a terrible fadeout and such. Kinda endearing in its own way, though, and certainly worth a listen, I says.
  • Why, oh why, do versions of this song only exist with either the “I want you…to want…ME!” intro or the “This next one…is the first song..ON OUR NEW ALBUM!” outro (brilliantly sampled by them crafty BBoys for the beginning to “Jimmy James”), but never both? Might be time for some more Adventures with Audacity…

3 Responses to “Say Anything: Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me””

  1. “Languished in obscurity” is a joke, right?

  2. Rkye said

    Not if you listen to wikipedia. Which you must.

  3. Brian said

    The audience sound is mimicking the echo effect from the studio version.

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