Breaking Down Bang Bang


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I’m not trying to brag, but later this week we’re taking the daughter up to Staples Center to attend Jingle Ball, the annual holiday concert that features 15 or so of the hottest young acts in music.

Which makes me think that, soon enough, we’ll be hearing a live performance of “Bang Bang,” the Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj hit that’s all over the radio these days.

Which makes me laugh.

See, “Bang Bang” is one of those songs that everyone sings. By “everyone,” I mean, well, everyone. Maybe not my wife’s 95-year-old grandmother. But young girls and boys. Younger girls and boys. Pre-teens. Moms and dad of pre-teens. It’s a ubiquitous jam, one that sticks in your head like a ball of Elmer’s. And it’s, ahem, entirely about the singular topic of fucking.

Yeah, I could have said “Having sex” or “Engaging in intercourse.” But the lyrics to “Bang Bang”—written by a quartet of songwriters (Max Martin, Onika Maraj, Savan Kotecha, Rickard Goransson) who regularly bring us the most banal mucus around—are so raw and plain spoken that “fucking” seems most appropriate. The words, along with the video, make “Bang Bang” particularly special.

Hell, let’s delve into some analysis …

If you’re an old dude watching the video, you might think for, oh, seven or eight seconds that it’s just another teeny bop offering, a la Debbie Gibson’s heyday. Pink writing, the names of the artists. Ho-hum …

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.47.03 PMBut then Jessie J shows up. And, by the looks of the folks cast in the video, she’s hot shit. Like, r-e-a-l-l-y hot shit. I mean, this guy on the right wears his erection on his face. Which doesn’t help explain why his shirt is wide open in the middle of a city, or why he and I both purchased the same sunglasses at Marshall’s for $6.99. But, hey. Good for him. I admire the budget-minded shopper.

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Jessie J arrives. And she looks utterly, 100-percent … ridiculous. Seriously, am I wrong here? Why is she stealing Vanessa Huxtable’s hairstyle? And what’s with the getup? I know the Charlie Chaplin look had its place once upon a time, but … um … what?

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 11.00.27 PMAnyhow, she starts to sing. And all the ladies gather around—which implies her message carries especially important weight. It’s John F. Kennedy addressing Berlin. It’s FDR insisting the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It’s the big speech in Independence Day. Alas, Jessie J’s first seven words prove bewildering. By uttering, “She got a body like an hourglass,” the singer implies that the woman she’s referring to is sexy and voluptuous. But it also makes me wonder whether Jessie J, age 26, has ever actually seen an hourglass. Which looks, eh, something like this …

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 11.03.52 PMFor one to literally have a body like an hourglass, he/she would have to have an unfathomably large head. Which, for a moment, leads me to believe “Bang Bang” isn’t about fucking, per se, but about fucking Andre the Giant, whose noggin measured seven grapefruits and who, truth be told, had a body resembling an hourglass.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 11.07.54 PMI digress.

After telling us that Andre the Giant (or whoever) has a body like an hourglass, but that she (Jessie J) can “give it to you all the time,” she informs us that Andre the Giant also has a booty like a Cadillac (undeniably true—albeit a lumpy, dented one), but that Jessie J can send you into overdrive. Then, the two first big money lines …

“You’ve been waiting for that, stop, hold up, swing your bat …”

And, one beat later …

“You need a good girl to blow your mind, yeah …”

Why are these the money lines? A. Because they’re stupid. B. Because 99 percent of people who sing pop songs in the car never take the time to analyze the lyrics; C. Because there is something hilarious, if not somewhat tragic, about a bunch of 7-year olds singing about bat swinging and blowing. Why hilarious? Because, as a culture, we’re weird and inconsistent. We get up in arms over stuff like the “War on Christmas” and whether enough Chanukah songs are being performed in the holiday concert, and meanwhile bats and blow are being crooned by little Sally and her pig-tailed buddies.

OK, deep breath. Too much of a rant.

The chorus arrives, and next up is Ariana Grande, arguably the least-convincing sexy singer who’s ever existed.

Up until very recently, Grande was best known for her role as Cat Valentine on Sam & Cat, a Nickelodeon series about a pair of babysitters who start a business to raise money. She was cute and innocent, and little girls across America seemed to genuinely enjoy the show.

Now, she dresses as a hooker.

Maybe that’s too harsh. You be the judge …

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The thing is, Grande can’t pull it off. She’s 21, going on 15. Adorable, cuddly, Hello Kitty-esque—not even remotely sexy. And that’s what makes her role in this song so bad. Her first line (She mighta let you hold her hand in school, but I’mma show you how to graduate) is painful, just because it’s shit. Her second line (No, I don’t need to hear you talk the talk, just come and show me what your mamma gave) is yet another reference to a guy’s penis.

Here’s a secret for those who might not know: Anyone who has a penis or has seen a penis knows penises are, um, sorta funny. They look like wrinkly bald men, and even if you have one that’s enormous and thick (guilty), it’s still an odd sight (not that vaginas are particularly breathtaking). But, thanks to Ariana and “Bang Bang,” we now have a bunch of little kids singing “… show me what your mama gave”—and thinking it’s a reference to last December’s Christmas gift.


I actually can’t get past this Grande thing. She has a strong voice. She’s talented. She’s certainly capable of having a Christina Aguilera-esque run. But the more I see her and hear her, the more it reminds me of the Mets trying to make Juan Samuel a centerfielder. Stats be damned, he just didn’t fit. And outfits and lyrics be damned, Ariana Grande isn’t a sexpot. She’s a Nickelodeon actress with musical skills—and as her part in this atrocious song wraps with, “You need a bad girl to blow your mind,” my first impulse is to run far away.

Sadly, I can’t. Nicki Minaj needs to rap.

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In her defense, Minaj is the talent here. She’s a legitimately strong rhyme slinger, and every time I hear her I’m reminded about the unspeakable awfulness of Iggy Azalea. That said, I hope beyond all hope that Minaj didn’t write this …

Kitten so good
It’s dripping on wood

Wait. Stop! I must stop. I’ve now heard this song, oh, 50 times, and—after consulting with multiple Harvard linguistic experts—it finally occurred to me what Minaj is referencing here. Her kitten isn’t her cat. It’s her vagina! And it’s dripping on wood! And the wood is a penis! So, to surmise, Nicki Minaj has a moist vagina, and the aforementioned moisture has spread itself to the erect penis of a male. I wonder if this guy understands

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Please continue …

Get a ride in the engine that could
Go, Batman robbin’ it
Bang, bang, cockin’ it
Queen Nicki dominant, prominent
It’s me, Jessie, and Ari
If they test me they sorry
Ride us up like a Harley
Then pull off in this Ferrari
If he hanging we banging
Phone ranging, he slanging
It ain’t karaoke night but get the mic ’cause I’m singing (uh)

By singing, Minaj means she’s moaning from sex. Which is good, because singing during sex would be somewhat strange.

Or something like that.

3 thoughts on “Breaking Down Bang Bang”

  1. I’m thinking you’re very young! “Hourglass figure” doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s head – it’s the classic “36-24-36” Marilyn Monroe figure. And any woman who isn’t rail-thin has either been told she has “an hourglass figure”, or is “Rubenesque” at some point in her life.

    By the way, I found your site by Googling “Bang Bang lyrics comments” because I had occasion to see the video and look up the lyrics for my blog (which, on the site I saw, were credited to Jessie J). My take on these women is that they are doing what they think they need to do to make it in a male-dominated business, and I will never crap on another woman who does that. I think it’s sad they have to do it, but no sadder than any other artist who had to compromise or pander to get air time. Who am I to judge?

    As far as hearing little kids sing that stuff? I call bullshit on any parent that allows that, then bitches about ‘kids acting too grown these days’. I am an old bat, an old hippie, and someone who, as a young mother, used to sprint to turn off the TV whenever Madonna was on, doing something I didn’t think my young ones should have seen. I don’t know what to make of this stuff nowadays (now sounding cranky, I know I know) – I guess I would probably lose my mind. And spend a lot of time lecturing my kids about things I really wish I wouldn’t have had to.
    But allow it in my house? No. It’s not appropriate, and it’s too hard to explain to kids how their latest Nickolodeon heroine is all of a sudden twerking and singing graphically about sex, but they shouldn’t pay any attention to it. That being said, just because it’s too hard to explain, doesn’t mean you just throw up your hands and give in to little 8 yr old Sally who wants to watch a Jessie J et al video. First you say “no”. Then you ask where she even heard of Jessie J et al. Then you make a call to the parent of the kid who listens to this stuff and didn’t think to ask you if it was ok your little angel listen to it too at the sleepover.

    Sigh. And people used to think we were wild. Holy crap.

  2. Your analysis makes me want to sing this song all the time out of pure irony. (Irony? Ridiculousness? sometimes I can’t tell.) There was a radio guy in Cleveland who used to read song lyrics, straight up spoken word style, and THE HILARIOUSNESS!!!!! This reminded me of that, and it was beautiful. Thank you.

    Also, I’m aware that my Disqus profile pic is of Britney Spears. I should probably change that. But I won’t. Because I love her.

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