Sunday, March 8, 2009


When Duke Ellington wrote Hit Me With a Hot note (and Watch Me Bounce) in 1943 it clearly had nothing to do with violence. It was a metaphor for the visceral impact of truly great music. But it is interesting that the song is sung predominantly by women.

But a few decades later the similarly named song He hit Me (And it Felt Like a Kiss) performed by The Crystals in 1962 was quite the reverse. It was written by a woman as an explicit defence of staying in a violent relationship. It met with an unfavorable public reaction and has remained controversial ever since.

Another few decades later and Hit Me With Your Best Shot performed by Pat Benatar (1979) was again read as a metaphor, this time for the impact of love, positive and negative. It was part of an album that included "Love is a Battlefield" and is general accepted as feminist in tone and intent.

With this back in mind I was never really sure what I felt about Hit Me Baby One More Time as performed by Brittney Spears [at youtube] (1998). It the violence implied by "hit" a valid metaphor or a desire to be victimised in the name of love? If the currently pattern continues we won't be due for another "hit" hit by a female vocialist until around 2020.

1 comment:

Clyde Durgin said...

I honestly never saw, not once, possible violent undertones in these songs... well, except for that Crystals song. I was better off not knowing that existed.

Anyway, I always saw the "hit me" as in the way that Duke Ellington referred to it. I mean, we don't view other artist's songs so literally that we question that they're in violent relationships or that they condone abuse. After all, Thomas Dolby wasn't literally blinded by exposure to some woman's vat of chemicals. OR WAS HE?

Sorry, I really had nothing to say. I just wanted to reference Thomas Dolby was all.