tremble clef

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Click Five, "Long Way To Go" (2007)

A question, a confession: why do I find male backing vocals -- especially when they are racuously, shambolically, even fascistically shouted -- incredibly homoerotic? I don't necessarily mean that such tracks give me a huge fat boner, but listening to them always makes me suspect that the lead singer is gettin' it on with his troops, right there in the studio, bow-chicka-bow-wow.

Some songs seem aware of this, and even play to it. The apotheosis is Pet Shop Boys' "Go West," largely because the male choir clearly stands in for the men, described in the song, who have made that trek to what they imagined would be utopia. (Matters were not helped by the way Neil and Chris employed a burly Welsh choir, with each member dressed as a coalminer, to sing back-up at the 1994 Brit Awards. Which was held at Earl's Court.) Of course, since this is the Pet Shop Boys, the gesture ends up being less camp than oddly poignant -- or as poignant as it is camp -- because, in the final reckoning, the men sound like less like they are in an orgy, and more like they constitute the kind of loving, familial community that the song elegiacally figures as already destroyed by an epidemic.

The Click Five's "Long Way To Go" doesn't exactly court such gay interpretations. Well, maybe a little: the power pop song is addressed to some girl (I guess) who loves our narrator, but said narrator doesn't feel the same way. For, you know, whatever reason. "Why would you wanna be with me instead of other guys?/Or make me feel like something special?" he wonders, itching to hand her off to a better man. And so, for the chorus, he sings, "Even though I love you...," whereupon "other guys" join in to yell, "...I CAN'T HELP THINK ABOUT IF I'D BE BETTER WITHOUT YOU!!!" They are presumably speaking for him, rather than as an interested, involved third party. These mates are NOT AT ALL the reason our narrator can't bring himself to love this girl.

But, to me, it sure sounds that way sometimes, and by "sometimes" I mean "every single time I listen to the song." Remember that episode of Seinfeld which satirizes the way straight men irrationally and idiotically get turned on by catfights, because "men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other, there's a chance they might somehow, you know...kiss"? I know I'm totally acting out the homosexual version -- "put a group of men between the antiseptic soundp(r)oof walls of a recording studio, and you're bound to get some hott man-on-man action!!!" -- but what can I tell ya? I am what I am.


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