"More Than Words" is a Terrible Prom Theme

Bloggified by Jake on Sunday, August 12, 2012

In early 1991, two songs representing the opposite sides of romance were released: "More Than Words" by Extreme and "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls. One of them beautifully expressed how the emotional connection between two people deeply in love can't be expressed without some physical manifestation and the other was about using sex to manipulate the singer's partner.

The only problem is that everyone get them reversed.

Recently, Chris Sims explained why Avengers is a more cynical film than The Dark Knight, yet people tend to think of the latter as the "darker" film. He attributes this to The Dark Knight taking place largely at night while Avengers is shot mostly in sunlight.

Likewise, Extreme's decision to write a ballad about guilting a girlfriend into giving up the pussy made it a go-to prom theme because it was better to slow dance to than the poppier, less subtly-titled "I Touch Myself." Like dogs, prom committees weren't listening to what the artists said, but how they said it.

Actually pay attention to the lyrics:

Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
...if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know

As any 16- or 17-year-old with raging hormones and a girlfriend worried about the dual threats of teen pregnancy and the perception of being a slut can understand, this translates to: I'm tired of hearing you say "I love you" all the time but leaving me with blue balls. If you reeeeaaaaallly loved me, we'd be fucking.

What would you say
If I took those words away?
Then you couldn't make things new
Just by saying I love you

"I would like to set a precedent where loving me isn't enough to earn my forgiveness. You'd also have to make me cum."

...you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know

This song also plays on the stereotypical male discomfort of love versus sex.
"I love you."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Keep sucking."

On the other hand:
Let's first mention this song does not say, "When I think about you, I masturbate." It's not titled "I Touch Myself (On My Genitals)". While it's pretty clearly about masturbation, an argument could be made that the singer is getting lost in the ether from being so in love that she needs a physical anchor to bring her back to reality. Not a great argument, but a better argument than "Maybe the guy from Extreme wants her to bake him a cake. That would be more than words."

I love myself I want you to love me

The opening line addresses the singer's self-esteem and empowerment. This isn't about subjugating oneself for love (like someone whose boyfriend makes her feel shitty for not fucking him [and possibly the dude playing acoustic guitar next to him]), but about finding someone who loves and accepts you for who you are.

When I feel down I want you above me
This cheeky line, along with I get down on my knees I do anything for you, is an example of the playful innuendo between a couple in love that's completely missing from Extreme's "Fuck Me or How Am I Supposed to Believe a Word You Say?" Also, notice all the sexual implications in this song are the singer expressing what she wants to share with her partner versus telling the partner all the things she is demanding that the partner has not voluntarily given.

You're the one who makes me come running
You're the sun who makes me shine
When you're around, I'm always laughing
I want to make you mine

I close my eyes and see you before me
Think I would die If you were to ignore me
A fool could see just how much I adore you

Put these lyrics over a slower beat and an acoustic guitar and you'll have a hard time stopping couples from dancing to this at their weddings for the next 20 years.

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