Phantom Songs: Fine Young Cannibals – “She Drives Me Crazy”

Phantom Songs is an ongoing series of musical pieces that you can’t quite put your finger on. You have most definitely heard the song before, but are most likely not able to pinpoint who made it, when it was released, and/or what the song is really about. All of the artist’s history and biography was either stolen from wikipedia or made up entirely.

The year was 1989. Soda was still cold, George “Rude Boy” Bush got himself a new house and Phil Collins was planning the follow-up to his 1986 masterpiece, “No Jacket Required”. What resulted was his magnum opus: a short, care-free and catchy song that had everybody exclaiming on the top of their lungs, “she drives me crazy!”. Some would even follow up with a rhythmic “Ooh, ooh”. Some would go as far as reciting the whole chorus. Some would do half of the chorus. Some just did the first part. Regardless, this hit took the world by storm. Everyone became aware of the presence of “she” and her ability to “drive people crazy”. Many benefits were held in third-world countries, hosted by Phil Collins himself, to help raise money and awareness so that someday, she will not have mind power over anybody. We all forgot the words to “Sussudio” and “In The Air Tonight”. All the people wanted was to hear “She Drives Me Crazy” just one more time. It would appear that in 1989, Phil Collins was on top of the world…

…But Phil Collins didn’t write that song. Whoops.

The year was 1989. Soda was still cold, George “Rude Boy” Bush got himself a new house and a small group called Fine Young Cannibals were planning the follow-up to their unheard and somewhat okay-ish 1985 record, “Fine Young Cannibals”. What resulted was their magnum opus: a short, care-free and catchy song that had everybody exclaiming on the top of their lungs, “she drives me crazy!”. Some would even follow up with a rhythmic “Ooh, ooh”. Some would go as far as reciting the whole chorus. Some would do half of the chorus. Some just did the first part. Regardless, this hit took the world by storm. Everyone became aware of the presence of “she” and her ability to “drive people crazy”. Many benefits were held in third-world countries, hosted by The Cannibals themselves, to help raise money and awareness so that someday, she will not have mind power over anybody. We all forgot our initial curiosity of who these people were and whether or not they preyed on the flesh of the elderly. All the people wanted was to hear “She Drives Me Crazy” just one more time. It would appear that in 1989, Fine Young Cannibals were on top of the world…

…and they were right.

Very little is known about Fine Young Cannibals. What we do know is that they formed in 1984 and it took them 5 years to record 2 albums and then disappeared off the face of the earth. What were they doing in their spare time? They certainly weren’t playing chess. Any band that finds fame in the ’80s and vanishes usually has a dark secret to hide. Why isn’t the word “The” in their name? Just what exactly IS the lead singer mumbling through the verses? Why do I get the impression that it’s not actually a woman that’s driving this man crazy? This certainly does not sound or feel like a song about romantic love or obsession. There’s something darker in the midst. Let’s figure it out:

I can’t stop the way I feel
Things you do don’t seem real.

Right off the bat, we know that our protagonist is under some sort of spell. He could’ve been either hypnotized or brainwashed. Is there a difference? I don’t know, I’ve never done either. On top of that, the person that put him under the spell is either inhuman or has convinced him that she/he is inhuman/a he. Here’s some food for thought; having mind control over someone is not real. Therefore, the enemy is not human. So duh, Mr. Protagonist Man That May Or May Not Have Already Been Driven Crazy! You’re battling demons!

Tell me what you’ve got in mind,
’cause we’re running out of time.

Okay, now it’s getting a little hairy. Our protagonist has already admitted to his temporary insanity. He just wants to get it over with. Also, he pretends that he’s in cahoots with this monster, feigning a clock that they’re running against. A clever tactic, but I don’t think it’s going to work very well.

Won’t you ever set me free?
This waiting ’round’s killing me.

She drives me crazy like no one else.
She drive me crazy, and I can’t help myself.

Holy reveal! So, he’s being held prisoner of both the body and mind. To summarize the first act: The hero is on his way to work/fighting on a battlefield, when he’s stopped by an evil siren temptress from another world. She puts him under a spell and throws him into a prison that may or may not be in her basement/standard correctional facility. Meanwhile, a group of people out there are trying to kill the both of them, foreshadowing the inevitable event when they join forces.

I can’t get any rest,
People say I’m obsessed.
Everything you say is lies,
But to me that’s no surprise.

Well, that was fast. They already joined forces and already fought a battle or two? Regardless, they make a good team, no matter what the bloodsucking media might say. Our hero knows that he’s fighting with the wrong team. Everyone does. But he remains under her spell, willing to perform any evildoings that she so pleases. He has now become an obedient minion.

What I had for you was true.
Things go wrong, they always do.

I won’t make it on my own.
No one likes to be alone.

This narrative moves very quickly. Now, it appears that the captor has already fallen. Our hero is left alone, still hypnotized and unsure of what to do with the rest of his miserable life. Although she meant nothing but harm for him, she was also the only one to truly care for him. As he walks around the rubble of a world he once knew, he decides that he has nothing else to live for. It can be easily assessed that the “Ooh, ooh’s” in the final chorus is an enactment of his suicide cry. Most likely off a bridge, into a pool of toxic waste.

Given the generally light-hearted tone of the melody, I’m actually a little surprised about how dark this song actually is. Perhaps the music video can shed some more light on why this is so:

Ehh…nope, nevermind. The video is pure nonsense. It includes [but is not limited to]:

-A guitar that catches fire for only 2 seconds and never mentioned again.
-Two guys jumping forward in an infinite loop, while wearing matching suits and those goggles that you use in tanning beds.
-A very unenthusiastic band.
-Two girls dressed up as American Gladiators, head butting each other.
-A lead singer that looks like Phil Collins with cerebral palsy.
-Green screens.
-Terrible dancing.
-Denim.
-People popping out of cans.
-A karate fighter with a TV on his head.
-Some pillow monster breakdancing.
-An old man dressed as Beetlejuice.
FYC
It’s all part of an elaborate ploy to trick the audiences into not paying attention to the lyrics. You have a catchy chorus and a surreal video, it’s automatically a hit. We can see now that Fine Young Cannibals were basically derived from sick fucks that probably ate flesh for fun. Of course, there’s no real signs pointing to their cannibalism. But if you can turn a depressing story about mind control and loos into a chart-topping song, then, well, you might as well eat people. Just like they ate their wallets.

Join me next time, when I try to defer the age-old argument, “The groove is in the heart”. I believe the groove is somewhere else, AND I WILL PROVE IT!

-TeeCoZee

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