Day One hundred and thirty nine: "Do I Creep You Out" from Straight Outta Lynwood
Researching the mind-melting musical and sensory journey that eventually produced You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me many, many years ago, I found myself onboard the Jam Cruise. My fellow passengers included multiple members of Grateful Dead, a whole mess of virtuoso musicians beloved by jam band fans and, for some reason, silver-haired American Idol winner and Soul Patrol cult leader Taylor Hicks, who boarded with his trusty harmonica and an eagerness to hop onstage and “jam” with various long-haired freaks and weirdoes.
I’m not sure why but his presence onboard irritated rather delighted. Every time I saw him and his stupid silver hair and his stupid harmonica and his stupid American Idol swagger I’d get annoyed. I don’t know what it was.
In theory it was admirable that a cornball Las Vegas/Branson type beloved by blue-haired grandmas was stretching musically and adding his own flavor to the crunchiest of crunchy jams but to me it just read as more weird showboating from a guy whose whole shtick was cheesy showmanship.
I vaguely remembered reading about Hicks winning American Idol but to me his more impressive achievement was having one of his songs parodied by American pop parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Hicks didn’t write "Do I Make You Proud", the song that won him American Idol but its achingly sincere lyrics reflect his rocket ride from scruffy anonymity to unlikely television star and hitmaker. Within the context of American Idol, it represented a bit of a pre-victory victory lap, although by that point Hicks had done well enough on the show that he was more or less assured a career even if he didn’t win the top spot.
“Do I Make You Proud” is sung from the perspective of a man oozing gratitude and appreciation for a partner who has spurred them on to great heights, convincing them they could achieve far more than they ever imagined possible, like, for example, winning American Idol or having a song parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic.
It’s a song of unashamed, unabashed excess that begins on a note of trembling sincerity and builds to a string-laden chorus as impossibly vast as the universe itself, or Donald Trump’s ego.
Al transforms this weirdly irresistible slice of American cheese into an anthem for one of his creepy Casanovas, his lousy Lothsarios. Instead of filling his partner with pride, the lunatic crooning this warped ditty is more likely to engender fear, physical and psychological revulsion and a need for a restraining order, or possibly round-the-clock security.
Like “Do I Make You Proud”, “Do I Creep You Out” starts off soft and intimate before getting bigger and bigger until it could not get any bigger or more melodramatic before closing with the rapturous applause of a phantom American Idol audience roped into aggressively cheering the yucky self-disclosure of one seriously unpleasant human being.
We begin on a relatively straight-faced note, with the singer conceding that he doesn’t know his object of desire very well but is nevertheless convinced that no one will ever love them like they do. That’s a common sentiment among both singers of love songs and psychotic stalkers. The man straight up BELTING out “Do I Creep You Out” clearly belongs to both groups.
Our creepy crooner goes from 0 to icky in no time flat but Al sings sentiments like “sometimes I drool, and usually I stare!” with straight-faced faux-sincerity that renders the sentiments hilarious in their incongruity.
“Do I Creep You Out” grew on me. I was a little lukewarm initially, seeing it as a little too analogous to “Confessions Part III” and “You’re Pitiful” in its not terribly empathetic exploration of sweaty loserdom.
“Do I Creep You Out” works far better than it should because Al throws himself into the clammy creepiness of the song with the same outsized sense of melodrama Hicks brings to the more smarmy and less stomach-churning original.
Like Hicks, Al doesn’t merely sing. No, he performs the song. He acts it out. He doesn’t just sing the lyrics, he sells them through energy, conviction and sheer volume.
On a lyrical level, “Do I Creep You Out” might feel a little over-familiar. On a conceptual level it soars as a sly commentary on the glossy over-production and cornball over-emoting of not just Hicks’ smarmy smash but American Idol-derived pop product as a whole.
Incidentally, you know who else blows a mean harmonica? A dude named “Weird Al” Yankovic. He played it during “Bob” on his latest tour. It seems safe to assume that if Al were to show up on Jam Cruise with his trusty harmonica people would be surprised and overjoyed. Thankfully, Al has better things to do with his time, unlike a certain silver-haired reality competition champion and world-class cheeseball.
Y’all know the deal! You can support the Weird Accordion to Al and independent media over at http://patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace
and this is still a going concern: https://www.gofundme.com/mediumweirdtrip