Released June 4, 1996, Bryan Adams’ seventh studio album, 18 til I Die, is now 20 years old. It eventually went on to sell over three million copies worldwide, despite being one of his least popular records.
Don’t remember it? It’s the one that featured a previously released soundtrack tune (“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from 1995’s Don Juan DeMarco) and a future soundtrack tune (“Star” from Francis Ford Coppola’s(!) Jack). The record was diverse, which is a nice way of saying it was kind of all over the place. It tried to be youthful (the “Kids Wanna Rock”-ish “We’re Gonna Win”) and nostalgic (“18 til I Die”), roping in the kids and the dads (hey, my old man LOVED that song) while still aiming for the hearts of ladies young and old.
That’s where its main theme comes in.
This record, to a 13-year-old me, was known as his “perv” record. Despite being a young man getting in touch with his body, I still found this record wildly uncomfortable to listen to.
The disc’s first single and opening track, “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You,” is a catwalk loving, designer name dropping satire of fashion culture, and is followed on the record by “Do To You” – a song about how he really wants to do to you what you do to him. Innocent enough? Not really. Wildly misogynistic? Yup. Then there’s the song I didn’t want to listen to in the car with my parents around, that made me feel weird about being a guy; “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear.”
This song is just ridiculous. Never mind its insanely cheesy porn star guitars, or its overproduced pop sheen, or the fact that the lyrics are offensive no matter what day and age we’re in – it’s just a terrible song. Let’s look at a few of the lyrics –
I wanna be your t-shirt when it’s wet
I wanna be the shower when you sweat
I gotta be the tattoo on your skin
Yeah, lemme be your bed baby – when you climb in
Then there’s the chorus –
(Please not the “I wanna be” part is shouted with gang vocals)
I wanna be your lipstick when you lick it
I wanna be your high heels when you kick it
I wanna be your sweet love babe, yeah, when you make it
From your feet up to your hair, more than anything I swear
I wanna be – your underwear
“Cool, you wanna be a pair of $6 Joe Fresh gitch with a pad stuck to the crotch?” asks my wife upon hearing the song for the first time. “You wanna be the mint lip balm that my dog chewed up and I still use? You wanna be a sensible Toms flat?”
It even inspired this incredibly faithful cover version by a band called Spontanious (who for some reason superimposed the MTV logo onto their YouTube video, which is a mix of in-studio footage and clips of Demi Moore in Striptease).
“(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear” is almost as bad as that song where Edwin is singing about being a cheese grater and a compulsive liar and a fast driver and how he was fucked again, oh yeah, fucked again. Almost.
Does this song need an update for 2016? Would adding lyrics like “I wanna be your iPhone when you swipe right” or something about Snapchat (I don’t get Snapchat) make it even sadder, or would it further an unnecessary commentary on oppressing women who are trying to date in a world that makes that hard enough already?
Just because something is 20 years old, doesn’t mean it’s a classic. Bryan, I’m hoping your white t-shirt wearing ass is ignoring this one in concert, because nothing can save this song. Not time, not new lyrics, not even Tina Turner.
Bryan Adams declined to be interviewed for this column, via his publicist.