Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Pretty Mess” Is a Filthy Song for Prostitutes

Someone once told me that the video for terrible, terrible pop song “Pretty Mess” is symbolically raunchy, but I’d never seen the video all the way through until today. It is, as promised, filthy — surprisingly so for something released back in 1984.



The video features no less that four visual metaphors for gushing semen, with varying levels of effectiveness: a shower of white feathers, an exploding bottle of champagne, an oversized wine glass that spills what looks like styrofoam packing peanuts beads and finally white, round pillows (think globules). And before you say that my mind is just in the gutter, please note that the song is called “Pretty Mess” and the lyrics leave no room for any other interpretation. Since Vanity — a former Prince protégé whose singing voice sounds like Kathy Griffin imitating Miss Piggy — doesn’t enunciate the lyrics, I’ll point out that the chorus has Vanity repeatedly referencing people making “such a pretty mess on my dress.” That really can’t mean anything else, given how sexual (though not sexy) the lead-up to the chorus is. It’s not a fever that has her “boiling like a kettle” and “boil[ing] to the maximum.” The worst part comes in the second verse, however, when Vanity seems to be singing about snailtrailing across the room (an act that I think is mirrored by the video’s dripping honey scene):
I’m dripping like a hot tea
I’m aware if you drip it too hot
It just might spill all over this lovely
Like, JESUS, WOMAN. Show some restraint. Though, I guess her name is Vanity and not Modesty. And no, the song doesn’t appear to supply a noun to the end of the third line, though the video has her gesturing to her tailbone when this line is sung.

I just feel like there’s a lot packed into “Pretty Mess” despite the considerable handicap of it sucking so hard — and I haven’t even begun with the weird dual setting (a scene from Lost in Space vs. a skanky pool hall whose bathroom surely has not just one glory hole but actually nothing but glory holes, so go wash your hands and pee next door) and the fact that Vanity is shown romancing a blonde guy who, yes, would have technically been considered mainstream hot from about ten minutes on September 23, 1983, before becoming instantly and hopelessly dated.

To correct Vanity, the overall experience of it all is not a “pretty mess” but in fact a “spectacular mess.”

5 comments:

  1. "lovely" is a noun, it means "an attractive and glamorous young woman".

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  2. Ah yes. Like if you a little affected were to greet a group of "Hello, my lovelies." Still, in the context of the song it sounds weird to me, maybe because Vanity is referring to herself and polite people wouldn't usually call themselves "lovely." But once again, her name is Vanity --- and it's no stranger than the rest of the oddly structured sentences.

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  3. Ha. This made my day.

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  4. I also love how you described her horrific singing voice. I couldn't get through it the whole video with sound on even for a laugh...her voice is soooo grating. Gah!

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  5. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Don't forget the line "and then he pulled a seam and it went all the way". She takes care not to pronounce the "d" in "and". So, uh... Clever?

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