A wave of shock spread across the internet last week when a new Brian McFadden song went online. Not shock that he’s still recording and releasing music – the former Westlifer has released three solo albums to date. Nor that the production on the track is terrible. It was the lyrics. The rapey, rapey lyrics.
The first new material from McFadden since last year’s solo album ‘Wall Of Soundz’, ‘Just The Way You Are (Drunk At The Bar)‘ is a chirpy, banjo-driven dance-pop tune about taking a woman who is “drunk as shit” home so he can “do some damage” and “take advantage”.
Quickly the track began to spread around the internet, with widespread derision of its lyrics, which were seemingly advocating date-rape. There seemed to be no two ways about it. This was the most unnerving, stalkery song about being ‘in the club’ since Bodyrockers’ ‘I Like The Way You Move’.
Oh, but we’d not asked Brian himself, had we? And he was miffed. We’d all got the wrong end of the stick completely. Blaming “super intelligent” people for reading too much into his lyrics, he informed the world that he wasn’t talking about women in general, just his wife, Delta Goodrem. Which is apparently fine.
McFadden told The Daily Mirror: “I am shocked at these ridiculous accusations about my new song. For the record I wrote the song about how I love it when Delta has a drink – which is very rarely – and she’s dancing”.
He then added via Twitter: “My new song is a tongue-in-cheek song about how I find it cute when my girl gets drunk. I am not promoting date-rape. What’s the next thing I am going to be labelled as from things I say? Super intelligent reaction to my song. Wish I was as clever as them. And yes, it is dumb lyrics and a dumb beat, that was the point! When did I ever claim to be John Lennon?”
That said, John Lennon did write the lyrics, “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to see you with another man”, on ‘Run For Your Life’. But let’s not start comparing Brian McFadden with John Lennon. Before you know it we’ll be talking about Johnny Cash and murder ballads and will have lost sight of the fact that the former Westlife member’s lyrics are ‘dumb’ for reasons other than those he thinks they are.
Regardless of who he’s singing about, the terms “do some damage” and “take advantage” really don’t sit well. In private, people’s senses of humour tend to have darker tones, and maybe in the McFadden-Goodrem household these are phrases used jokingly. But to take them out of context and stick them in a chirpy pop song designed for mass consumption is bound to make it look a bit suspect.
It seems that this realisation finally hit McFadden on Wednesday, when he returned to Twitter and wrote: “I feel sick that my single is getting so much attention for the wrong reason. I love making music but I do not want this song played on radio or being sold to profit myself if people think it’s about date-rape. It’s not about date-rape. I’m gonna give all my profits from the song to victims of rape. Because it disgusts me. Sorry people misunderstood my lyrics”.
He added: “And finally… my song is supposed to be fun, not offensive. Guess not everyone has the same sense of humour. This is not a publicity stunt, so don’t think I’m backing down and agreeing. I just wouldn’t give the haters the pleasure”.
It’s amazing that neither McFadden nor anyone around him spotted the ill-judged nature of the lyrics before the track was completed. But then no one spotted that everything else about the song is embarrassingly bad, either.
Original post written for CMU here.