Scary Women Of The 90’s

I was listening to BBC radio 6music the other day, which has a feature where they ask listeners to send in the name of their ear-worm. What is an ear-worm? It’s a song that gets into your head and plays over and over, and you just can’t get rid of it. They then pick one and play it for all the other listener’s benefit so they too can have the same ear-worm.


The song on that particular day was a blast from the past; from a time of my teenage youth, with bad hair, social awkwardness and fluff on my top lip. The song was En Vogue’s track, Don’t Let Go from 1996.


I decided to reminisce and find the video on Youtube that evening. Here it is for your enjoyment:



Now as an adult watching this, I realised a few things which I didn’t really take any notice of when I was fifteen. I would like to share with you the things I realised as an adult watching this music video and listening to the lyrics, which basically ruined my memory of what I thought was a 90’s R&B classic.


So, the premise of the video, four, strong, powerful, dominant and slightly scary women are singing at a house party to one chap who has had a fling with all of them. They’re intimidating in a sexy kind of way but still kind of scary and rather than try to brutally murder the “player” and rip his testicles off, fashioning his scrotum into some kind of shower cap “Player” trophy (I bet the tall one with big hair would find that quite useful to be honest) which, they could share by way of a rota system on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (It was around back then; I’ve checked); they decided to all get up and sing to him in a powerful, emotional and slightly aggressive way.

These intimidating ladies are all singing about how they want to get beyond the friend zone and then the arrogant guy at the end looks in a contemplative yet slightly guilty mood. This video is a contradiction. It flies in the face of Girl Power because they all still want him despite what he’s been doing. Was that an acceptable thing to do in the 90’s? See four women until they collaborate and sing at a house party so you then have to decide which one you want? Surely based on this video and the sass that these girls are giving it should be a song saying, “Stop being a “Player” you shit!” That would be more befitting of this video.


Putting the premise of the video and the sexy yet scary women to one side; let’s have a look at the lyrics. As an adult man, I’ve listened to these lyrics and feel that they too are a little bit scary and very full on. I tried to explain this to my friend and comedy collaborator, Paul, who said that he thought I was really taking things too literally. I’m not so sure. Let’s have a look at some of the lyrics. I’ll put my comments underneath some of the lines, sometimes responding to what they’re singing.


What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
(Note to self, don’t play charades with these ladies!)
Don’t you want to be more than friends
(Based on what I’ve seen in the video, that’s more than friendly behaviour. I mean, I’ve never said to my mate Malcolm, “Hey, Malc, why don’t you writhe on a bed while I film you? Come on, it’ll be a laugh! Where are you going?”)
Hold me tight and don’t let go
(Should I let go slightly if you start to struggle breathing?)
Don’t let go
(Okay, I won’t)
You have the right to lose control
(I won’t lose control, but you might if you become uncomfortable and then it’ll turn into a kind of control and restraint situation, then it’ll get awkward, I’ll probably get hurt and the evening will be ruined.)
Don’t let go
(Alright, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
I often tell myself that we could be more than just friends 
(The video says to me that it’s already way past the friend zone!)
I know you think that if we move too soon it would all end
(To be honest, have you seen the clips of what he was doing? Have I lived that much of a sheltered life? Is that taking things slow? I thought a nice stroll around an art gallery with a bite to eat and a drink or two is a standard evening for the first three years. Not undies, camcorders, stripping and making the windows steam up in the back of a car!)
I live in misery when you’re not around
(Ah, that’s nice isn’t it? It’s nice to be wanted.)
And I won’t be satisfied till we’re taking those vows
(WOAH!!!!! Hold on a minute. I mean there’s getting some loving and then there’s THAT!)
Seriously though, was that acceptable in the 90’s? Can you imagine if a man said that? Even in the context of this music video! “Listen love, I know you’ve slept with me and my three mates here, some might call you a Slut, but let me be honest with you, I want to take it further and when I say further, I mean full on marriage! Will you marry me? What do you say? Oh, and if you’re pregnant, we’re going on Jeremy Kyle.”
There’ll be some love makin’, (Great!), heart breakin’, (Not Great!), soul shakin’ love 
(Is that like exorcism?)

Love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’…

What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

I often fantasize the stars above are watching you,

(What, like Prince and Michael Jackson?)
They know my heart, it speaks to yours like only lovers do
(Ah, that’s nice isn’t it?)
If I could wear your clothes I’d pretend I was you and lose control
So here’s something else that was apparently okay in the 90’s. Ladies, dressing up in their men’s clothes and pretending to be them. I’ll be honest, if I came home to Mrs Grump, dressed in my clothes, with a swimming cap on to represent my baldness and writing a strongly worded complaint letter to someone, then I’d be pretty freaked out. But what also strikes me is how blatant it is, how disparate the equality of the sexes back in the 90’s. You see, back then, if a man was discovered wearing his wife’s boob tube and miniskirt, doing the ironing, he would be ridiculed and would probably lose all respect from his significant other. That’s why it was always done in private when the wife went to the shops. It was always, “His little secret,” and little did you now what Bob at work, really got up to in his spare time. But clearly, it was perfectly acceptable in pop culture for women to do that very same thing and openly sing about it at house parties! I hope that we’ve come a long way in the past twenty years, to the point where either gender would freak out equally on discovering their partner had been rummaging through the wrong underwear drawer and trying things on.
There’ll be some love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’ love
Love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’… What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend 
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

Runnin in and outta my life
Has got me so confused
You gotta make the sacrifice
Somebody’s gotta choose
We can make it if we try
For the sake of you and I
Together we can make it right

(Can’t keep a running)
(In and outta my life outta my outta my life)
(You’ve got the right, you’ve got the right, I said ayou’ve got the
right to loooose controol yeah)

(The clearly blatant overuse of vowels here, to be frank, is off putting. I could never be with someone for such a blatant disregard of correct English language and grammaaaaaaar!)
What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go Don’t let go
Don’t let go

What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

What’s it gonna be (don’t let go)
Don’t you want to be (don’t let go)
Hold me tight and don’t let go (don’t let go)

The rest of the song is much the same, but it does leave you wondering how the man dealt with that quandary because if he does pick one of those scary lasses, he’s got another three pissed off ones to contend with. I’d probably just leave town.
So there you have it, the ear worm that led me to a completely new, modern understanding of a classic 90’s R&B song.
I’ve taken it too literally haven’t I?
P.S, Feel free to play the video and then sing along. I know I have a few times.
Oh and please like, share and follow.

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