Posted by: dougery | February 15, 2012

Thoroughly Unnecessary Song Explication File #127: Britney Spears “I Wanna Go”

Welcome back to the Thoroughly Unnecessary Song Explication Files!

This one is kind of a throwback, at least in terms of Pop Culture Time (PCT). PCT is like dog years only instead of 1 dog year equaling 7 human years, 1 PCT year works out to be roughly 7 billion human years. In other words, this song is old, yo! But I love me some Brit so forgiveness?

[Verse 1]

Lately I been stuck imaginin

Oh, what a singularly cruel fate. To be left in the prison-like void of a pop starlet’s Imagination. Shadows abound. Rats (all named ‘Baby’) skitter down the halls. Glitter on the cell bars…

What I want to do and what I really think

This is some deep shit, strictly speaking. Brit is opening up a philosophical can of worms with this line. Do I, as an acting agent, every really do ‘what I want to do,’ or is everything merely a performance and somehow different from ‘what I really think?’ Mind. Blown.

A brief aside. My wife once likened Britney’s career to that of an adorable yet clumsy turtle. You see the adorable but clumsy turtle trundling along and you want that damn turtle to succeed. But occasionally the turtle falls over and gets stuck on its back. And by that I mean kind of goes bonkers, shaves its head, walks barefoot through the gas station and flashes its junk when exiting the car. But you never give up hope for the turtle and sure enough it rights itself and awkwardly dances back into the spotlight.

Time to flow out

Gross.

Be a little inappropriate

I am wondering what ‘a little’ inappropriate amounts to these days. Showing off too much ankle at the pool? Texting while driving? Checking the time on the glowy screen of one’s smartphone while at the movies?

‘Cause I know that everyone is thinkin it
When the lights out

Things I think about when the lights go out:
1. Hey, who turned out the lights?
2. What a pain in the ass, now I need to blindly stumble over to the light switch in the dark and *tears ACL on coffee-table*

[Bridge]

Shame on me (whistly thing)

Yes, Britney, shame on you for using the tried and true ‘whistly thing’ in your pop song, thus insuring it will be a mega-hit. Seriously, music cliche-wise it ranks right up there with hand-claps, saxophone solos and that underwater transition that big techno dancehall bangers use when ramping back up toward ‘the drop.’

To need release (whistly thing again, this time with a giggle)

Britney playing the part of the coquette isn’t new, and if you tallied up the mileage she’s gotten out of this role you’d have one of those crazy numbers that statisticians then extrapolate with the phrase ‘from here to the moon and back.’ Like “if you stacked up all the Oreos Americans will eat it in 2012 it would reach ‘from here to the moon and back’ six times.”

Uncontrollably

But this word downshifts us from coquette right into straight nympho territory. Are you really suggesting that you need release to an uncontrollable degree? Because nymphomania might not even be an accurate term at that point. Hold on, let me go grab my DSM4…

[Chorus X2]

I I I wanna go-o-o all the way-ay-ay

At this juncture I’m sure everyone listening is well aware of this fact.

Takin out my freak tonight

This was a real bummer when I looked up the lyrics online. I’ve heard this song a bajillion times on the Jeep’s FM radio and every single time I thought she was imploring someone to ‘Take me off my feet tonight.” I would never call Britney’s vocals particularly good, but she can turn a phrase and make it sound sexy from time to time and the double entendre of ‘take me off my feet tonight’ (i.e. ‘Lift me up out of this mundane existence and a) onto the dance floor or b) into your bed”) is pretty damn sexy–at least I thought it was until I discovered the line was actually ‘takin out my freak tonight’ which I’m not sure what that even means.

I I I wanna show-ow-ow
All the dir-ir-irt
I got running through my mind

Perhaps its because I recently watched it, but this line makes me think of Sucker Punch. The main character Baby Doll is basically a suped up (and by that I mean younger, pig-tailier, Catholic school girl skirtier) version of Brit anyways. Anyhow, the ‘plot’ of Sucker Punch is basically repressed girl with vivid imagination gets locked inside insane asylum and ‘defeats her enemies’ by dancing. In that while she is dancing (in real life) she is fighting steampunk nazi zombies (in her head). And while she is dancing her fellow patients steal stuff from the guards, etc.

Woooooow

That is the official lyric above, but in reality it sounds like “Whoa-oh-oh.” Not a stretched out ‘wow.’

[Verse 2]

Lately people got me all tied up

Bondage Britney is perhaps my least favorite Britney. You can do better than that, B.

There’s a countdown waiting for me to erupt

Volcanoes erupt. Civil unrest erupts. When discussing the human physiognomy you might say a bad case of acne can erupt. But I’m finding it difficult to sexualize the verb erupt here. Perhaps you mean…

Time to blow out

Time to blow up, Britney. Blow up. You see that could scan as another double entendre, in that your song will blow up and rise to the top of the charts as well as the blow up one naturally assumes you are referring to, la petite mort, etc. Blow out makes me think you are gassy or incontinent.

I’ve been told who I should do it with

I’m going to assume (pretty safely) that we’re still discussing your sexual urges. So someone has been telling you who you should be with? That’s kind of a drag.

To keep both my hands above the blanket
When the lights out

What are you, 14 years old and making out with your boyfriend to reruns of That 70s Show in your parents basement? Are really suggesting that as a 30 year old grown ass woman you are still told to keep your ‘your hands above the blanket’?

[Repeat Bridge]

[Chorus X2]

[Modified Bridge]

Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Shame on me (whispered reply: Shame on me)
T-T-T-T-To need release (to need release)
Un-Uncontrollably (uncontrollably-lably-lably-lably-lably)

All you need to know here is that Brit is sort of talking dirty to herself I guess? Also, she has developed a case of the stutters. First it is just the ‘call’ part of the ‘call and response’ that has the stutter problem. With the ‘call’ being all chirpy followed by the whistly thing on top of ‘response’ which is lower pitched, throaty and even more over the top than before. But eventually the ‘response’ part is impaired as if it too finally caught the stutter STD. That ‘lably x 5’ is awfully silly sounding.

[Original Chorus X2]

We close things by having several Britneys sing the chorus staggered one on top of each other, reinforcing the schizophrenic, vaguely institutionalized persona at work throughout the song. But hey, the album has found an unexpected amount of critical success, everywhere from Spin to the Av Club. And  sold like 750,000 copies so, hurray for ‘sexy’ psychological disorders?

Reading: Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

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Responses

  1. Feel free to suggest future TUSEF songs in the comments!

  2. “She Wolf”? (I love these posts.)


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