ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT BOY
ANYTIME THAT YOU NEED IT
ANYTIME THAT YOU NEED IT
You keep asking for it.
I got a bit drunk to write this.
It helped. A bit.
Once upon a time, I hated “Easy”. It’s an instantly polarising song where you know exactly where you stand by the end of its short three minute 38 second run, if not before. Either you are on board with what it’s trying to do and are bopping to the heavens, or the lyrics have turned you off completely and you’re filled with revulsion. Still stinging from Mutya’s departure, it was easy to hang my hate on the new lineup and what I assumed was a drastic change in direction (when, of course, it was nothing but). It took a deep consideration of Sweet 7, which this rate forced me to undertake, for this to change. And when it did, the reversal was as impulsively polarising as my initial reaction to it: I went from hating the song to absolutely loving it.
11 x 2: @SmashHitter, @High Heel Feminist
Highest: 10/10 x 20(!) (@GhettoPrincess, @etienne, @tylerc904, @P'NutButter, @PCDPG, @Methyn Marquis, @Island, @DJHazey, @Terminus, @Shockbox, @Reboot, @supersoon, @AllSixSugababes, @Conan, @Filler, @scottdisick94, @Remorque, @Mr.Arroz, @chanex, @Daniel!)
Lowest: 0/10 x 2 (@VivaForever, @Mina)
My score: 9/10
The production is immaculate on this. It begins with those static-y, purring, waiting-for-your-car-to-get-fixed-at-the-autoshop verses. Then the song launches, whiplash-like, into that double chorus, filled with this charged, fizzing energy, each transition like a gale force of pent-up sexual frustration being fired at your face. And just when you think it has played all its cards, the song propels itself into that “Middle-Eastern inspired” instrumental middle eight, the best such instance thereof this side of “Buttons”. It all ends with an amazing inversion of the double chorus – stripping bare chorus 2, repeating it again with the production, and flaring up the Arabian Nights evocation again to re-ignite chorus 1. It’s spirited, energetic, and dare I say sexy, in this heady, spirited way.
To go alongside this are the vocals. The register of the verses is perfect for Heidi to play the sex kitten role as only she can; Amelle finally comes into her own in the early days of 3.0 with a scintillating verse; and Keisha holds it all together with a ravenous performance, right down to that toe-curling, back-scratching, hair-pulling, orgasmic SCREAM. The trio work together with the kind of perfect coherence they’d only properly display again after the gap of a whole album.
But an appreciation of the production and the vocals is still not enough to get one over the song, because those lyrics are so glaring. And they’re glaring because they’re terrible. A series of double-entres each more lip-curlingly awful than the last, and descending deeper and deeper into hilarious/revolting territory. But – and this is the key to understanding “Easy” – they’re terrible on purpose. There’s really no other explanation for them. And I feel this for a fact because there’s virtually the entirety of Sweet 7 to compare this to, where equally, or actually less, terrible lyrics are attempted to be passed off seriously. In pairing such frivolity with superlative production, the entire song is a masterclass in irony. And once you realise that, this is just a raucous, thrillingly enjoyable affair.
I can certainly understand why the jarring narrative is such a stumbling block for so many people, and especially fans from way back when. The first proper song from 3.0 turning out to be a shameless slut jam (with its irony rather less obvious) is definitely a shock and a half. And in many ways, the lyricism of this would turn out to be the canary in the goldmine as it were for the output of 4.0 and “Get Sexy” in particular. But whereas that stumbled on the irony count, ultimately being consumed by its own regressive politics, if not the physical mess of its circumstances, “Easy” has such an air of playfulness to it which immediately cancels out the toxic self-objectification. This could only have been produced with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense. And to underline all of that, and top it off, there’s a horrendously sleazy video to go alongside it, where the the visual cues mirror the lyrics in their overblown indecency, replete with dripping lipstick, red lollipops, fake wigs and where the girls are possessed by the spirit of Jezebel in the club bathroom stalls to obscene effect: Keisha struggling to not pop the zipper on her patent leather jumpsuit, Heidi doing some sort of demented Siobhán cosplay and Amelle serving some B-grade Eiko Ishioka realness.
On the broadest level, I appreciate “Easy” so because it adds yet another layer to the band’s remarkable discography. It’s a good song, for sure, but it’s not ‘good’ in the way that most of the band’s hit singles are, where production and songwriting are realised in straightforward terms. It’s good precisely for making gold out of sleaze; for being unexpected in a genuinely interesting manner; and for just being a blistering, eye-searing farce, in the best possible way.
Several of you, as can be expected of a tasteless horde like this, completely missed the point. A frigid Solenciennes (5) is, of course, head honcho amongst them, “the chorus is great, the beat is hypnotic. Now, onto the negatives: I don’t care what the artistic intention behind this song was, the on the nose double entendres are cringe inducing, I can feel Heidi pulling her cardigan tighter as she sings about her landing strip, the whole thing is a hideous mismatch. The music video’s cool though. As much as I dislike it, it would have been better served as a single off the fifth album much like Good To Be Gone and ditching some of the dross that they packed Change with. Scores so (relatively) highly for the beat and the chorus, consider yourself lucky you're not getting a 1 for those horrendous lyrics.” kal (4) reprises Quiche’s turn on the Tamworth Midland Music Festival stage, “No, no, no, no, no.” You can imagine Blayke going either way for any Sugababes song, really, so don’t be surprised at his 5, “Is it me or does everything about this single sound so cheap? I remember they constantly dropped that they were working with some group for this song and they were from America and did “rock music”. Regardless, I like this song. It should not have been the lead single from Overloaded.”
VivaForever, who gave “Get Sexy” a 10, throws this a 0 and screams “DELETE IT FAT”. I think that says all you need to know about her taste. Mina at least has the decency to be consistent since she zeroed “Get Sexy” so I’ll let her bech sandwich pass, “Blech. I can't unhear the double entedres. Blech.”
On a slightly higher plane of comprehension, a dripping uno (6.5) can’t quite compute the song’s central coup, “Insanely sexy verses, and a very catchy chorus, but they feel like two different songs to me, not in a Girls Aloud kinda way, either. It does pick up after Amelle's verse, which is nice, but not enough.” It’s less two different songs, and more quiter verses that serve as respites between the 747-turbine blast (en route to Medina!) of the choruses.
stopthestatic (7) is no stranger to guilt or pleasure, “Lyrically, one of their most memorable songs. Tons of giggleworthy lines. I actually quite enjoy it as a guilty pleasure.” Count acl (9) among the shameless, “Unashamedly guilty pleasure. I am still baffled as to who decided they should be cottaging in the video though.” Constantino (7) is still not out of things to c’mon, “C’mon CHORUS! Everything else about this is awful, mixing included, but the chorus is fanstastic. I also love the bathroom stall-ography.”A Larry Craig tea!
“Amazing chorus,” echoes Deborux (8) from amid a tangle of sweaty sheets. HRH (8) has some observations to make while panting for ha life, “Criminal that so many people hate this. I really like it, and it's aged very well. Perhaps the most 2.0 single 3.0 ever released.” Sonically, that’s absolutely true. With different lyrics, I can totally imagine this as another behemoth occupying Angels. A soaking CasuallyCrazed (8.5) doesn’t quite get there with the verses, but lets the chorus finish ha off, “While I loved it when it was released, this song seems to have been forgotten within the annals [Ed: I_CANNOT_USE_REAL_WORDS_PROPERLY_ this was not a wise choise of words] of time. Upon revisiting, the verses feel too sparse and undercooked, although it helps build up to that absolute rocket launch of a chorus.” In similar vein, “ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT BOY / ANYTIME THAT YOU NEED IT,” climaxes Lost In Japan. (8.5), “The post-chorus/second chorus is a thing of wonder and one of Amelle’s best Suga-moments. Shame the verses don’t live up but a high score for that alone.”
Ironheade (8.5) proves that slutting it up in a grimy club hallway is not beneath him or the sweaty strangers beneath him, “Stomps heads and takes names, and certainly makes it look easy. The sleazy electro bassline puts you right in a pink-lit London gutter right off the bat, and for all the slickness of the production, the guitars have a surprising amount of feel remaining. The keys throughout are excellently done, flirtatiously poking at the edges of the song in burlesque fashion, and oh, that beat. This is the sound of grinding, in the best way possible – and leave it to Keisha and Heidi to really deliver on that promise. It's just a damn sexy song, what can I say? And on her fourth time out, Amelle conclusively shows her value to the group with a commanding post-chorus. Unfairly slept on, I reckon.”
“In my Sugababes Top 10, will probably struggle to make Top 40,” misunderestimates tylerc904 (10) who goes onto splurt everywhere, “I love everything about it. That double chorus is a career high. Doesn't stand out in the slightest on one of the best Greatest Hits of all time.” Hmm, actually it does; not for reasons of quality but because they had never attempted ironic hoe before this. Mutya, of course, wouldn’t have had a bar of this. I can’t imagine her singing about her pretty kitty without cracking up. Pre-prescribed hoeism requires discipline/fear of management. But yes, Overloaded was (the “New Year”, “Soul Sound”, “Angels with Dirty Faces” and “Follow Me Home” exclusions notwithstanding) an incredible package.
Sweet lil’ PCDPG (10) got completely corrupted by this song, “I remember playing this song to my friends while I was in middle school. I was ten at that time and didn’t understand how Heidi suddenly had red hair. I’d always mute the song when Amelle sang ‘I wanna sex on the beach’, being afraid my parents would hear it. I never understood why Keisha sang about her pet, her kitten, in her verse. Growing up and knowing what the song was actually about, I was ashamed for all the times I’ve played it in front of my parents. All these amazing memories combined with how fresh it sounds still sounds today, makes for one of the best Sugababes singles.”
DJHazey (10) outs himself as the only one amongst us to genuinely get turned on, “The "pretty kitty" line is iconic and considering this is my first time hearing this... mind blown. Let me leave the 10 here before I forget, because this song and Keisha in the video have me... distracted.” P'NutButter (10) sounds the Orson klaxon as he grinds up on the pole, “Bloody underrated pop song, Orson remember them? No?” They’re dead, Jill. A moist Chanex (10) lives for Amelle serving J-Lo realness in The Cell (dir. Tarsem Singh), “Iconic for Amelle's fringed mask in the video alone. The glaringly, INTENTIONALLY crass and obvious double-entenres are the conceit on which the whole thing is built, and it's a sturdy frame indeed. Did I mention Amelle's fringed mask in the video yet?” Yes, mawma.
Lil’ Runawaywithme (9) grows up and swaps ha good girl faith for a tight little skirt, “Sorry but YAAAAAAAAS. I live for this funky, sexy, slinky bop! The lyrics are just iconic “HEY MISTER POSTMAN WHERES THE MAIL FOR MY MAILLLLLBOOOXX” is such a fucking moment, it has me screaming, so does “got a landing strip clear at the airrporrt” its so sexy, tacky and kinda cringy but yet genuinely sexy, exciting, intoxicating and addictive. It’s always what I have dreamed of playing while I seduce my future very rich and handsome husband in a dark swanky gay bar somewhere, whilst wearing a fancy black dress and drinking cocktails it will probably never happen but a boy can dream.” mrdonut (9) emerges from his fetid gay cave to the blinding hetero world, “Never have I heard so many allusions to minges in a pop song. Saying that, “Got such a pretty kitty, boy I know you want to pet it” is brazenly amazing. Anyway “Easy”’s chorus is a triumph as is the stunning, Middle Eastern-infused instrumental middle eight.” “Totally ridiculous and I love it,” says a succinct londonrain (9), exhausted from rubbing himself on strangers under the strobelights.
Let me award the finishing honours to Filler (10) who once again very economically manages to finish me by describing this, very simply, as “My Squirt profile”. Which is perfect, really.
I think it comes down to an extent on the value you place on the value of kitsch, really, in pop. I definitely don't think it should be the entirety of a pop act's repertoire, and the fact that it rarely was with the Sugababes (and girlbands in general) makes the few instances of its occurrence notable and appreciable for me. I suspect I have a higher tolerance and preference for irony and just ridiculousness in pop though.Yeah I mean, I get it, but it's still utterly terrible. Being ironic doesn't always equal being clever and I'm still waiting for a public apology from Keisha for this nonsense. If it had totally different verse lyrics and kept the same chorus(es), I'd probably have given it a 10. I just can't handle the crude lyrics, both in the sense of finding it a bit much and in that they're really badly put together and I'll never have a lightbulb moment of changing my mind after 10 years, I don't think. I just kind of resent the idea that all these double entendres layered one after the other is somehow clever when they were producing much more thought provoking songs without being so crass; it's different from their previous approaches, and that's great in terms of finding a new direction with a new member, but it's not somehow... better, for being this way.