Friday, 15 July 2016

My Top Ten Songs About Bad Kissers

Kissing is a popular subject for songwriters... perhaps because most people dream of becoming pop stars as a way of getting some. But here are ten songs you probably wouldn't want to lock lips with...

10. Will Powers - Kissing With Confidence

OK, first confession. For many years - in fact, until very recently - I thought Will Powers was a man. Knowing only this song, I thought the male voice was Will and the female was an uncredited backing singer. Turns out Will is really the creation of celebrity portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith and his voice is actually hers slowed down.

You probably knew that already.

Anyway, Kissing With Confidence comes from Will's 1983 album Dancing For Mental Health which was a spoof of self-help shysters and the way they preyed on vulnerable people's insecurities. It was written by Goldsmith, with a little help from Nile Rodgers, Steve Winwood, Todd Rundgren and Carly Simon's songwriting partner Jacob Brackman. Nice to have celebrity pals.

Anyway, in the song Lynn starts out as a particularly bad kisser...

I'd giggle like I had no brains
Or else I'd start to cough
I thought my perspiration stains
Would turn a fellow off

...but this is soon fixed by Will's self-help advice and she soon becomes a kissaholic.

I put an end to worrying, I learned the way from Will
And showed me kissing with confidence was an acquired skill
When my boyfriends get too hot I can cool 'em down
Now I'm kissing with confidence everywhere in town.

9. Blake Shelton - Kiss My Country Ass

Some would consider this the worst kind of redneck anthem: provincial deep south BS, the sort of thing that gives country music a bad rep around the rest of the world. I defend my interest by suggesting Blake might be being a little tongue-in-cheek here... although the video would suggest otherwise. I think it's a case of giving the baser part of his fanbase exactly what they believe they want. And it's fun if you can put yourself in their heads. I'm not sure if Brad Paisley's Southern Comfort Zone was a direct response to this song, but it could well have been.

Still, pogue mahone and all that.

8. Magic Wands - Kiss Me Dead

Fuzzy guitared dream pop (they call it "lovewave") from a California indie band who toured a few years back with The Jesus & Mary Chain. One listen to this and you can tell they were supporting their heroes.

7. Green Day - Geek Stink Breath

Well, you just wouldn't. Especially when he starts picking scabs of his face.

The song's actually about Billie Joe Armstrong's meth habit.

6.  Cinerama - Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Not a cover of John Barry's theme to Thunderball, but a typically Gedgian tale of infidelity and its consequences by David... and his... erm... ex-girlfriend.

5. George Michael - Kissing A Fool

Yes, George Michael.

Yes, Kissing A Fool.

I was 16 when this came out, and I probably should have been too cool for George by then, but I was a frustrated romantic and this smoky, low key ballad hit all the right notes. A few months later, I remember playing it in my dad's car on the night I borrowed it to take a girl out on a date for the first time. That night was typical of what I laughably refer to now as my teenage love life, and yet... time makes fond memories of almost everything.

And no, there was no kissing on that date. But yes, if there had been, this song would have been apt. (There was no second date either. She was just trying to make her ex jealous.)

4. Tennessee Ernie Ford & Helen O'Connell - Cool, Cool Kisses

This was another strong contender for My Top Ten Bickering Couples Songs a few weeks back. A few months ago I got my ears around a very cheap 50 track compilation of Tennessee Ernie songs; up until that point I only really knew him for Sixteen Tons, but this collection was an eye-opener. Lots of interesting songs with funny little stories to tell, of which this is one of my favourites. It features a couple arguing about how they can put up with most of their partner's flaws, but when the kisses go cool, that's a bridge too far...

Helen: Don't mind that smelly pipe that's always stickin' in your face!
Ernie: Don't mind your shoes and stockin's always scattered 'round the place!
Helen: I'll put up with the cigarettes you put out on the floor!
Both: But your cool cool kisses I just won't take no more!

Bear in mind, however, this is from 1950, so it's a sign of the times when Helen sings (in a humorous vein)...

Don't mind the way you beat me every time we have a fight...

All of which leads me quite nicely into...

3. Florence & The Machine - Kiss With A Fist

Perhaps it says something about me that my favourite song by Ms. Welch is her punky debut single (originally recorded by her previous band Ashok, under the title 'Happy Slap'). A lot of people think it's a song about domestic violence, but Florence claims that's not the case, that the violence is metaphorical, and it's more about the mental turmoil some couples put themselves through in extremely passionate relationships.

Or something.

Kiss With A Fist is the shortest song Florence has ever released, and it's a lot more fun that much of the wispy, floaty, pseudo-Kate Bush stuff she's released since (although I do like quite a lot of that too). But I guess there's more of an audience for that sort of stuff than 2 minute guitar blasts these days.

See also The Crystals - He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss). But that's Phil Spector for you.

2. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

One of my favourites from Jenny Lewis, it begins with her fending off the advances of a lecherous cobbler and ends with her dropping acid and getting unlucky in love. Probably not your best bet for a safe smooch.

To be lonely is a habit like smoking or taking drugs
And I've quit them both, but, man, was it rough...

1. Richard Thompson - Cold Kisses

Thompson plays a particular unpleasant character in this one, going through his girlfriend's belongings for evidence of her ex-boyfriends... trying to find out if any of those cold kisses might ever get warm again. A classic example of Thompson's bravura songwriting, it ends with him hearing his girlfriend's key in the lock, only for him to quickly tidy up so that she can find him sitting reading a paperback when she comes in, oblivious to his jealous snooping.

Here I am behind enemy lines
Looking for secrets, looking for signs
Old boyfriends, big and small
Got to see how I measure up to them all
This one's handsome, not too bright
This one's clever with his hands alright
Tougher than me if it came to a fight
And this one's a poet, a bit of a wet
Bit of a gypsy, a bit of a threat
I wonder if she's got over him yet?

Perhaps I should have played this one in my dad's car on that hopeless first date...

Which one would you swap saliva with?


  1. Carter USM - Sealed with a Glasgow Kiss

    1. Was in serious consideration. Maybe when I do My Top Ten Headbutt Songs...

  2. "Kissing With Confidence" is the best song about kissing as it's never as good in real life as it is when you're practising it...

    But, talkin' about Kiss My Country Ass, Kris Kristofferson did its best on "If You Don't Like Hank Williams (You Can Kiss My Ass)":

    "I dig Bobby Dylan and I dig Johnny Cash
    And I think Waylon Jennings is a table thumpin' smash
    And hearin' Joni Mitchell feels as good as smokin' grass
    And if you don't like Hank Williams, honey, you can kiss my ass!"

    1. I love that song - along with plenty more of KK's work - so I'm not sure why I decided to skip it and go with Shelton instead. I had a perfectly good reason at the time... but I can't for the life of me remember what it was now!

  3. Another suggestion - Kissing 2 Be Clever
    This is a rather nasty euphemism used historically for women who would, when put upon to be smart or clever, they would resort to just being "cutesy" or kiss/use sex to change the subject.(Wiki)

    1. I would have no objection to this tactic in principal.

      However, despite being a teenager of the 80s, I always struggled with Culture Club.

  4. Opened this in the office, so can't listen to the ones I don't know. Very happy with George Michael and Florence...I remember her getting in trouble for that song! I had a girlfriend once who used to bite when we hard that it drew blood every time. I really liked her, but preferred to keep my lips...

    1. ...which reminded me of I'll Bite Your Face Off by Alice Cooper, another worthy contender!


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