Friday, January 14, 2011

One Hit Wonder Or One Hit Blunder

Today's Subject: "Crucified" by Army of Lovers

When I was 12, one video was constantly requested on The Box. In the sea of videos by Naughty By Nature, Sir Mix-a-Lot and the random rock video, there was Army of Lovers' "Crucified," which in itself was as random as any combination of video blocks requested. Was it a religious dance song? A video with outlandish, flamboyant dancing in bathtubs, huge, corseted cleavage and that other guy playing piano and walking around? Whatever it was, the one certainty was that it undeniably catchy.

As a friend recently said, "Crazy that this was once considered a "hit"" and I would have to agree with her. "Crucified" is definitely a product of the early 90's yet it is almost too odd, too bizarre to have ever been a hit song. It is filled with pianos, synth drums and a sound that screams early 90's club hit but there is something very odd about this song as a whole. has an identifiable chorus and is a little more musically layered than most of the throwaway dance hits of the time. The chorus is very infectious and, easily, the most memorable part about this song other than the video.

Lyrically, this song is either about religion or dance floor persecution. Perhaps, it is about looking within one's self and finding power...on the dance floor. With lyrics such as "I've seen the deepest darkness/And wrestled with gods/Ride the noble harness/Raining cats and dogs" pose more questions than answers and explanations. Noble harness? Cats and dogs? Maybe it is about prevailing despite obstacles. Sure, that is what we will go with for now.

Musically, the song is very European from the synth drums to the vocals. Seriously, this song could have never occurred anywhere else. American dance music always seems rooted in percussion to drive the song forward whereas European dance music seems more synth heavy. Regardless, the song sounds and feels like a product of the early 90's yet does not seem horribly dated by its production and sound.

Granted, it made more of a impact on the dance charts but the song's appearance on an episode of Beavis and Butthead cemented the single with a small ranking in pop history. Speaking of which, the video is enjoyably odd and, more than likely, contributed to the song's Western success. One guy, vocalist/programmer Alexander Bard, walks around dressed in either a red Victorian-era suit, sleeping gown and Elvis costume playing instruments and singing the chorus while vocalist Jean-Pierre Barda dances in bathtubs, is chained in a birdcage canopy and plays violin with a loaf of bread. For the 12-year-old me, as well as me now, the video can best be summed up with two words, La Camilla. At 12, the mere sight of her in the video was amazing. Even now, she still elicits a Beavis and Butthead type response from me as watch this video...yeah. Drooling aside, it is a campy, cheesy video and I love it for that...and La Camilla.

As a single, "Crucified" charted highly throughout the world. In the U.S., the song was a massive dance hit and made it as high as #6 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play charts where it remained in the top 20 for 14 weeks. In fact, the song still sells well on various European iTunes markets. Other than this one time I was in a girl's car and she put on a mixtape, this song, to my knowledge, has never made much of a return to the U.S. In all fairness, most early 90's dance song are rarely, if ever, heard again. Yet, "Life is a Highway" made a comeback. Oh, pop music, you cruel mistress.

Infectious song with a catchy chorus.
Early 90's European dance music.
Top 10 hit in various parts of Europe and a big dance hit in U.S.
The video is pure cheesy gold and features La Camilla.
Beavis and Butthead commentary.
Single still sells in European iTunes markets.

No awards.
European dance music.
Rarely, if ever, heard on nostalgia stations or anywhere else.
Somehow, it was not a part of Eurovision.
Confusing lyrics/meaning.

Sweden's Army of Lovers have a wonder here. Yes, it is a very odd song but that adds to the charm...I think. Also, I am as far from a fan of European dance music as you could get (just ask me about Eiffel 65's "Blue" and you will see what I mean) but there I still like crazy song. Perhaps by admitting that, I will be crucified, crucified like my savior. What does that really mean in the context of this song? I still have no clue.

For humor's sake...

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