August 27, 2011

Why "Rock You Like a Hurricane" is the dumbest song ever

And the significance of the race track is…?

Last night, I found myself last-minute recruited by a karaoke cabal (there is no better way to describe it, trust me). Private room in the basement of a questionably legal establishment, much alcohol flowing, all that. And cheeky types that we are, we ran through a greatest hits of hurricane themed songs. As the only heterosexual man in attendance, naturally I was put on the heavy-metal beat, and I found myself singing "Rock You Like a Hurricane," probably the most famous song by long-standing German metal band Scorpions (apparently, they don't take a the).

Taken while I was singing something much, much better

I am not a fan of this one, and I am now less so after having read the actual lyrics on a video screens. But it's a very well-known, almost iconic song. It was a major U.S. hit back in 1984, and it's a standby of all those pointless-albeit-much-observed lists of greatest metal/hard-rock/guitar songs since the dawn of humanity or whatever. It's also been featured in a wide variety of media—dumb-ass Adam Sandler movies, of course, but also a trailer for Monsters vs. Aliens, an Applebee's ad, and even a Dave Eggers book. And naturally, attend a game featuring any sports team with anything remotely meteorological in their name, and this number will be blasted into your ears with extreme annoyance.

But does it earn this fame? Listen for yourself:

Where do I begin with this?

First of all, the Scorpions are German. Are there any hurricanes in Germany? It has relatively little coastline, so I would think there are many more familiar forms of destruction to these people. But what would have been more logical? "Rock You Like a Totalitarian Racist Regime"? (Too soon? Too late, actually.)

But apparently, something akin to a hurricane does happen occasionally in Deutschland, at least a cyclone with hurricane-force winds. (Here's an example from 2007.) And there's a rock show near Bremen every year called the Hurricane Festival; perhaps the Scorpions were merely angling for a slot. (I find no evidence they ever achieved this theoretical goal.) And in fact, it seems Irene's U.S. disruption is trickling over to flights in Frankfurt. I suppose "Rock You Like an Inconvenient Weather-Related Travel Delay" doesn't have the same snap to it, even in German (where they probably have a single word meaning "inconvenient weather-related travel delay").

Beyond that, the lyrics to this song are simply moronic. Sleazy, for one, but that's fine; rock & roll has a long, proud tradition of sleaze (my favorite Cheap Trick song comes to mind). But I have never encountered a song more molded over with mixed metaphors. "Rock You Like a Hurricane" just may be the dumbest song ever. (And that's saying a lot in this age of LMFAO.)

I'll give you one guess what the subject matter of this song is.

In the first verse alone, singer Klaus Meine, or the narrator, whoever—while bragging about his sexual prowess in the most boneheaded obvious way possible—labels his girlfriend both a "cat" (clever…) and a "bitch" (nice!). He has to "give her inches and feed her well," which is just confusing, unless he's likening her to a kid eating Fruit by the Foot.

Then comes the song's lyrical "highlight": "More days to come/New places to go/I've got to leave/It's time for a show." Okay, fine, so this is a song about the rock star life. We have 80 zillion of these that are more heartfelt and insightful, and that don't get bogged down in pointless metaphors. But whatever, you're a rock star, you write what you know.

Perhaps the best ever example of the subgenre

Then, of course, the chorus, where we go down a whole other path into the meteorological comparison: "Here I am/Rock you like a hurricane." Here he is…so apparently he doesn't have to go just yet. Also, there is a subject missing in the second part of the couplet. "I will"? "I intend to"? "I would be really nice if I could somehow manage to"?

We then reach the second verse, which begins extremely inauspiciously: "My body is burning/It starts to shout." I not sure I can even unravel that one. It's fairly common to speak of one's own body metaphorically, and to say your body is either burning or shouting is perfectly understandable, if grossly clich├ęd. But to combine both ideas in a single couplet seems to personify the corporeal form a little too much. It conjures the image of a guy whose body parts have a mind of their own, as if he's got some vestigial twin sticking out of his belly like the dude in Total Recall.
Actually, this whole verse is light-years beyond dumb, so let's go through it couplet by couplet. "My body is burning/It starts to shout." Then…

"Desire is coming/It breaks out loud."

Here's where I'm tempted to cut the Scorpions some slack. Their first language is German, so I have to wonder if something like "breaks out loud" actually makes sense in their tongue. Probably not based on the rest of this song—and geez, guys, you're writing a major-label arena-rock single in English, hire a fucking proofreader—but still, I'm going to ignore it.

"Lust is in cages/Till storm breaks loose"

Huh? Okay, at least we're tacking back to the weather metaphor of the chorus (and the song title), but "lust is in cages" is sheer nonsense. First of all, multiple cages for the concept of lust? Does it have constituent parts? Healthy lust for one's significant other is in minimum security, while the unwise desire to bang your ex-girlfriend's sister has to be kept in extreme lockdown? Also, this narrator has been boasting about his unbridled passion and licentiousness, so why is he all of the sudden feeling some sort of limitation? And is the lust the same as the storm? Please clarify, editor. (By the way, let me say that I don't believe for a second he gets as much tail as he brags about. Let me guess, this red-hot vixen he's been nailing lives somewhere near Niagara Falls.)


"Just have to make it/With someone I choose."

Wait a minute, hold on…is the problem here that this guy is being forced to "make it" (did anyone else still use that term in 1984?) with women he's not interested in? Is he a male prostitute? A eunuch in a harem? Does he think this is a relatable problem? I suspect, more likely, the Scorpions just tacked on "With someone I choose" to fit the rhyme…with "breaks loose." Which doesn't really rhyme in this song's structure, unless you're the kind of person who considers "rhyming" to mean "the words look like they rhyme because they're spelled similarly."

"The night is calling/I have to go."

Oh, yeah, almost forgot this guy is a rock star. I guess being a sex slave and a guard at the Federal Lust Penitentiary are his day jobs.

"The wolf is hungry/He runs to show"

Oh, come on, now we're roping a wolf into this menagerie? And who's the wolf? His sexual desire? But if it runs the show, logic states he doesn't have to go—he has to stay and bang this broad already. Or is the wolf his tour manager, dictating that he has to go and be a rock star? Perhaps it's his accountant—"Wolf" is a Jewish name after all, especially in Germany.

"He's licking his lips/He's ready to win"

I can't comment on this couplet, since I still have no idea who/what the wolf is. And what game it might be playing that it has prepared itself to win. (Another example where perhaps in German, "win" has a broader meaning that may encompass "have sex" or "put on a great concert." Any German speakers out there with some masochistic insight?)

"On the hunt tonight/For love at first sting"

We've reached the bottom of this moldy barrel. Apart from bringing in yet another animal metaphor—scorpions, I would imagine, unless these idiots are thinking about bumblebees—it's just clumsy self-promotion: The album that originally featured "Rock You Like a Hurricane" was titled Love at First Sting (which is the closest this band comes to genuine wit).

Then the chorus again (punctuated this time by Meine shrieking "Are you ready for me, baby?" Get to it already!). The verses are repeated, then the chorus again, etc. This ain't Sgt. Pepper's, my friends.

Singing this song karaoke was an exercise in self-abuse. I couldn't hit half the notes, and I couldn't even pretend I had any passion for these subhuman lyrics. Furthermore, the milieu the lyrics conjure up is so far from my reality right now that it just made me angry. And it's not like my roomful of gay compatriots were full of appreciation. What a waste—I could've sung "Punk Rock Girl" a second time instead.

But hey! Stay safe in the midst of Irene. Keep your spirits up by listening to some better music than this.


Louie said...

You've convinced me. Though in that company you could have at least sang Him-a-cane.

Anonymous said...

Scorpions is a great band show them the proper respect, they also have other songs with much deeper meanings so don't judge them based o
n one song

Anonymous said...

Hey!!! the Scorpions are my favorite band!! I think the animal metaphors in this song are what make this song great. Don't judge them only based on "Rock You Like A Hurricane" they have many other great songs with a much deeper meaning. such as "Wind of Change", "No One Like You", and "Still Loving you". I find this article a little bit rude!!!

baby haugen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

C'mon seriously? Hating on a band from 20 years ago? It's just wasting your time, bro... I still thoroughly enjoy their music today, despite all the over usage throughout the media over the years... Lighten up a little, it's Scorpions!! Who doesn't love them??

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