Day One hundred and twenty three: "Wanna B Ur Lovr" from Poodle Hat
The true tragedy of Prince’s life and career is that he never gave “Weird Al” Yankovic, American pop parodist extraordinaire, permission to parody any of his songs. No, that’s not actually true, of course. Prince’s life was as full of tragedy as well as triumph. Like his contemporary and rival, Michael Jackson, Prince was full of peculiarities.
But where Al and Michael Jackson’s legacy are intertwined to the point that rumor has it Michael Jackson very much intended his final words to be, “I would like to be remembered for inspiring “Eat It” and only “Eat It.” Make sure all my other music gets deleted or burned ritualistically”, Prince famously and stubbornly refused to let Al work his satirical magic on his oeuvre, no doubt worried that the mustachioed accordionist and American legend would improve on it so dramatically that the public would turn on its now-inferior-seeming inspiration with a fury disconcerting in its intensity.
Prince’s sound and vibe pervades Alapalooza’s “Traffic Jam” as well as Poodle Hat’’s “Wanna B Ur Lovr” but this time the inspiration is a little indirect as the slinky sex jam, or rather “slinky” “sex” “jam” is more directly inspired by Beck’s Midnite Vultures. Beck’s tongue in cheek foray into lover man R&B was itself inspired by the baby-making soul of Prince at his most lascivious, as well as Young Americans-era David Bowie.
Beck and Bowie were both very white outsiders to black music treating it with, alternately, no small amount of self-deprecating irony and a distinct respect. Midnight Vultures was Beck goofing on Prince, which makes “Wanna B Ur Lovr” a goof on a goof, something we see a fair amount in Al’s career.
What we don’t find very often in Al’s music are sentiments like “But do you mind if I chew on your butt?” In fact, I believe this may be the only Al song where that desire is expressed explicitly in the lyrics instead of just inferred.
Oh, sure, in many songs it’s strongly implied that the singer wants to chew on your butt. Before Al would perform “King of Suede” in concert in the 1980s, for example, he would always focus on what he felt were its two defining aspects: an old world craftsman’s profound sense of pride in his trade, in this case clothes, and his obsessive need to go to town on women’s shapely posteriors.
Yes, “Wanna B Ur Lovr” is a seeming contradiction: a “Weird Al” Yankovic sex song, so the “slinky” “sex” “jam” element of it is even more tongue in cheek than it is in the Beck version. It’s a sex song all right, but seemingly sung from the perspective of an space alien who came down to earth, watched Koyaanisqatsi and listened to a Barry White album and then decided that was enough for them to start making baby-making music of their own attacking the genre from a unique, almost asexual perspective.
“Wanna B Ur Lovr” is the ultimate Creepy Casanova/Lousy Lothsario anthem, as the singer glides from one creepy come-on to another, blissfully oblivious as to how creepy he’s coming off. Full of unearned cockiness, he begins on a painfully cliched note, with “I don't have a library card/But do you mind if I check you out?” but it isn’t long until he’s saying the kinds of things only serial killers would find romantic, like “I'll bet you're magically delicious/Like a bowl of Lucky Charms/You'd look like Venus de Milo/If I just cut off your arms.”
The singer spends a fair amount of the song engaging in what me and my fellow fedora-sporting “Pick Up artists” call negging, after the process where a creepy would-be womanizer tries to manipulate his way into an insecure beauty’s pants by peppering their conversation with insults in an attempt to make them want to prove their attractiveness and desirability by sleeping with the jerk.
In this case our clueless, creepy Casanova coos things like, “You're absolutely perfect/Don't speak now, you might spoil it” and “You must have fallen from heaven/That would explain how you messed up your face.” Over a slow, carnal groove augmented with horns and DJ Swamp’s sexy scratching, Al sounds more confident and turned on than ever before but his conception of seduction is alternately absurd, insane and insulting both to the woman he’s attempting to seduce, womankind and humanity as a whole.
With a running time of over six minutes, the song gives Al an awful lot of time to stretch out and be lascivious and horrible. In concert, he used this song as an opportunity to invade the audience and woo the lovely ladies one at a time with come-ons that get more and more overt (“I wanna be your anaconda/And your heat-seeking missile too/I wanna be your beef burrito/Am I making this perfectly clear/I wanna be your love torpedo” until he’s straight up requesting permission to chew on your butt.
“Wanna B Ur Lovr” is rather silly, a goofball burlesque of androgynous seduction as filtered through the sizzling myopia of someone who misunderstands both humanity and sex in fascinating ways. As riffs on Prince go, it’s a decidedly minor one, but that’s a lot of its fizzy, dizzy charm.
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