My wife, bless her heart, is something of a Maroon Five fan. (Like I can talk, right?) The other day she was listening to "Animals," which begins thus and continues in more or less the same vein.
Baby I'm preying on you tonightHunt you down eat you aliveJust like animals, animalsLike animals-mals
And I thought, "You know, this is like what 'The Bad Touch' would be in an alternate universe where Jimmy Pop was -- as Bugs Bunny might have put it -- a maroon." The same basic idea, minus the wit.
So I got up YouTube and listened to "The Bad Touch." Then I listened to it again, and again, and -- oh, probably about a dozen times in two or three days. And I thought, "What am I doing? What on earth is making me want to keep listening to this vulgar, sophomoric dreck?" And then I realized that what was driving me was an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for a more wholesome time.
Let me repeat that: This crass-to-the-max four-minute dirty joke about doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel filled me with nostalgia for a more wholesome time. How I wish I could go back and report this observation to the people of 1999! What could they possibly make of it? "The Bad Touch" must surely have seemed at the time like the nadir of music's descent into garbage.
I say "must surely" because I wasn't there, not really. I was a homeschooled Mormon kid who grew up in the country, and when we occasionally dusted off the TV it was only to watch PBS. In 1999, when "The Bad Touch" was released, I was a missionary in Utah and didn't know anything about it. So my nostalgia's not for this song specifically, as if I used to listen to it all the time in junior high or something. Pop culture nostalgia's not really a thing for me. I never even watched the Discovery Channel! It's just a feeling that the culture that produced it was a much more wholesome culture than the one in which we now live.
Trying to understand that feeling, I zeroed in on the line "You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals." The message of the song, while evil, is at least organic -- the natural man, return to monke. It is like a modern song in that it makes no pretense of being about "love" (except "the kind you clean up with a mop and bucket"), but conspicuous by its absence is any hint of the robot/alien/androgyne aesthetic, any overt reference to Satanism or blood sacrifice, any winking allusions to secret societies or MK-ULTRA mind control. It's just some dudes being jackasses -- being mammals -- and having fun. When was the last time mainstream evil was fun?
|"You and me," baby? Speak for yourself!|
(Incidentally, remember when every pop song was about love? Didn't it seem like that was something that would always be true? Even Aldous Huxley didn't imagine a dystopia without that.)
Scrolling through the comments on YouTube for "The Bad Touch," I find that a lot of them are saying how a song like this could never be released today, that people would find it far too offensive. Someone even said the lyrics "would make Cardi B blush" -- you know, Cardi B, who sings "Wet-Ass Pussy." Keep in mind that "The Bad Touch" is much less explicitly obscene than contemporary music, and that the only word they had to bleep out in the "clean" version was "doggy." But it's still true: people would be offended if it were released today. Doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel has too much of nature in it, too much of creation. Evil has moved on. Ahriman is the flavor du jour.
Of course, it's even more obvious that "The Bad Touch" could never have been released in, say, the 1950s. It represents a particular stage in the development of evil, in the gradual unfolding of les fleurs de mal. It came, it went, and it's gone. There will be no return to monke. Sorath is the future.
"Me and you do the kind of stuff that only Prince would sing about" -- in retrospect "Party Like It's 1999" has taken on a whole new meaning.