Song Of The Day 8/5/2014: The Arrows - "I Love Rock 'N' Roll"



How Original: I did not know that the warning shot Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fired across the bough of the vexing New Romantic loveship was in fact originally done by somebody else. Jett kept the Arrows' original version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" more or less intact, although in The Arrows' rendition there's a telling detail that Jett wisely excised from her remake. This involves the revelation that the love object in the song, the one standing there by the record machine, looked to be about the age of seventeen. In Jett's version the fact that the target of her leather is a seventeen-year-old boy is a mere statement of estimation. There's no real sign of approval or disapproval by this, she's not making a judgment call. It's math, with a bit of associative comparison, and that's all.

But in the Arrows' version, where the object is a girl, lead singer Alan Merrill throws in a lecherous, leering "Mmmm!" after the revelation of her ballpark age. Which changes the intent of the song altogether. Although the sexuality of both versions is obvious, Merrill's "Mmmm!" throws a taint of objectification into the proceedings as well, musing about her age with the same enthusiasm as I might say "Mmm!" about an especially good Reuben sandwich.

Jett, though, is looking for a life partner who won't take no shit, to match her own similar policy. She's not saying "Mmm." By not saying "Mmm," she's in effect saying, "I aspire to make your acquaintance because the estimated trajectory of your immediate future and the aesthetic resources from which you've constructed what I perceive to be your general outlook are very much like my own, or highly compatible to my chosen code and lifestyle. Let us dance to consecrate this alliance."

Britney Spears, for what it's worth, grunts appreciably after the lyric in her version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," but she grunts pretty much all the time, like it's a punctuation mark.

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