When I first heard this song (at 14), I didn’t like it. AT ALL. Because even at that age, I knew what icky sexual manipulation sounded like the moment I heard it.
Years later, I found out that Phil Oakey (the male singer) hated the lyrics, too…and for that very reason. He didn’t even want it released as a single (it became the fourth one off their début album, Dare!), and stuck it dead last on the LP, but it was the first one of theirs I heard, because it was the first song of theirs to take off in a major way on this side of the Atlantic. Other, better ones soon followed, and I found myself enjoying this innovative and soulful New Wave band’s sound immensely. Thankfully, I didn’t judge the band by the unfortunate first impression. And it was good to know, however belatedly, that Phil was well aware of the icky implications of the lyrics he’d written based on a girls’ magazine story, and disliked them as much as I did.
The placating feminine counterpart in the verses sung by Susan Ann Sulley is especially cringey…does she really “still love” him, and did she ever, or did she simply stay with him out of necessity? Given the way things work in the Hollywood and New York scenes, I think the question is probably moot. While the song itself is rooted in a fiction, the fiction itself springs from an awful, disgusting fact. One that no doubt predates motion pictures entirely, because women have had to contend with the demands of manipulative moneybags since time out of mind.