Monday, March 16, 2009

Desperately Seeking Amy

In case you’ve Googled something embarrassing to end up at this post on this particular blog, know this: I don’t usually write about Britney Spears. I will say this to the Great Queen Pop Tart, however: You got me. You made me actually look your song up online and listen to the first minute or so. Spears, you rascal.

You see, I’d read a few reviews of Spears’s new single here and there in apparently polite publications that declined to state the song’s gimmick outright. They mentioned that the song had “a barely coded raunchy message,” or something to that effect, and that was enough to make me curious enough to find out what that disguised filth was. I suppose I should also note that the song’s title, “If U Seek Amy,” struck me as an odd one for mainstream shitpop — something, perhaps, along the lines of “Annie, are you okay?” On some level, I wanted to know who Amy was and why she was hiding.

If you’d like to hear it for yourself, I’ve posted the video here. If you’d rather spare your ears from Spears, then read on. (A note to the brave video watchers: Please note that ten years after “(Hit Me Baby) One More Time,” Spears still can’t pronounce the word baby properly. “Beh-beh,” is not acceptable. Claire “What About the Baaay-Beee?” Littleton from Lost can pronounce the word better.)

The big deal, apparently, is that the phrase if you seek Amy, when spoken, sounds a lot like “F-U-C-K me.” On one hand, I have to admit this little trick is clever enough that I didn’t get it right away. And, in one sense, “If U Seek Amy” fits nicely in line with the theory that phrase rock-’n’-roll itself alludes to the physical motion of sex.

On the other hand, it’s also only as clever as other grade school pranks like “Sofa King” and the Pen 15 Club: Once you know the joke, it’s pretty lame. A better-veiled reference to sex would allow for another interpretation — an innocent one in addition to the smutty one, so at least you can accuse the holy rollers who take offense to this of creating the alleged profanity only in their heads. (And they will take offense to this, if on the wrong grounds. They object because it speaks about the lovemaking act in crass terms. I object because it sucks.) The song, however, only really allows for the “F-U-C-K me” interpretation because no other alternative makes any sense. In the chorus, Spears sings this: “All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy.” That doesn’t mean anything. That is nonsense. The phrase if you seek Amy is an adverbial clause being jammed into a noun spot in the second half of an infinitive, but I don’t even need to get grammatical to point out that these words — in this order and as they’re written — don’t convey meanin.

In the end, “If U Seek Amy” only underscores what we’ve known about Spears since the beginning: She’s singing about sex but trying to hide it, even though most of the world sees her as little more than a gyrating torso with a voice that isn’t all that pretty for singing. But even then, she still seems to shy away from true outright, four-on-the-floor whorishness: Even in the correct, smutty reading of the song, Spears is literally only spelling out the dirty words rather saying them.

All these negatives would be enough for me to write the song off and try to move on with my life, but there’s actually a reason why “If U Seek Amy” is even stupider yet. Aside from making the next few months hell for any grade schooler or high schooler unfortunate enough to be named Amy, the song sucks by virtue of the fact that its verses actually try to tell a story about this elusive Amy character.

The first verse:
Oh beh-beh, beh-beh — Have you seen Amy tonight?
Is she in the bathroom? Is she smokin’ up outside?
Oh beh-beh, beh-beh — Does she take a piece of lime
For the drink that I’mma buy her. Do you know just what she likes?

Oh oh, tell me — Gave you seen her? Because I’m so — oh
I can’t get her off of my brain
I just want to go to the party she gonna go
Can somebody take me home?
Ha ha hee hee ha ha ho
Yes, it really does end with the line Ha ha hee hee ha ha ho, which actually beats out zig-a-zig-ah as the worst bit of lyrical filler that ever made it to the final version of a pop song. But I can look past that. And, yes, Spears does really use I’mma in place of I am going to. But I can look past that. Hell, she’s from Louisiana. And syllables are hard to come by in pop songs, especially during today’s economy. No, my big problem with the verses is that they infer that Amy is actually a person… which would be fine if the chorus didn’t eliminate the possibility that Amy existed with the revelation that “seeking her” is actually only a request for immediate carnal loving. It doesn’t make sense — and I know I shouldn’t be looking for logic in a Britney Spears song, but by initial investment in “If U Seek Amy” and my deliberate exposure to it has prompted me to search for anything that I can possibly grasp onto. Perhaps it’s an act of atonement.

All in all, this is somehow worse than realizing than Bryan Adams was only ten years old in 1969.


  1. Anonymous8:36 AM

    Me oh my, you make me laugh a million


  3. Ashton: Thanks lots.

    Bri: Thanks lots, again. This article was validating for me.