lyte funky ones: an analysis of "summer girls"

(4 comments)
October 11, 2010
So I admit, I hadn't thought of LFO (err.. yeesh, "Lyte Funky Ones") for a long time, but then news of their lead singer Rich Cronin (who, yikes, was about half a year younger than me) dying from leukemia was around the memepool, and I remembered how catchy I thought their song "Summer Girls" (or "Abercrombie + Fitch" as I remembered it) was, a I tracked it down. Here's the video for it, nubile gals and all:



This song is infuriating, because it is maddeningly catchy, with lyrical references aimed right at the heart of Gen-Xers like so many nostalgia harpoons -- but lyrically, it is the biggest crock imaginable. You just want to smack the lyricist for having such good source material to work with (the late80s/early 90s memorabilia, this insanely catchy high gloss music) and then just blwoing it up. I've been jonesing to dissect it for a few weeks now, so here goes:

Yeah...I like it when the girls stop by.. In the summer
Do you remember, Do you remember?
...when we met..That summer??

So, especially given the video, kind of a nice framing device here, setting up an excuse to drop a blend of romantic nostalgia..

[Chorus:]
New Kids On The block had a bunch of hits
Chinese food makes me sick.
And I think it's fly when girls stop by for the summer,for the summer
I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch,
I'd take her if I had one wish,
But she's been gone since that summer..
Since that summer

Ok, wait, what? A shout out to New Kids on the Block I guess is only fair, given that this is a pop boyband singing. But what is up with the Chinese food? Like, is he saying the Chinese food back then was worse than it is now, or does he have like a present-day MSG sensitivity or something? This confusion about "back in the day" and "these days" seems to predominate -- Abercrombie and Fitch has been around for a long while, but I don't think it was prominent on the pop-culture radar 'til the late 90s, especially for the models it became famous for later.

Also, the inane nature of the Chinese Food line points out the laziness of the rhymes... hits/sick, fitch/wish? It's a testament to the instrumental section that this isn't even more grating.

Hip Hop Marmalade spic And span,
Met you one summer and it all began
You're the best girl that I ever did see,
The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet
Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets

So, reading it now, I wonder if the implication is she's the Larry Bird of Summer Girls? Which I guess is something. "Billy Shakespeare" is a bit of faux-familiarity with the playwright, though maybe I should for the first time give benefit of the doubt, and give half-credit for a reference to the sonnets being about the Summer Girl.

Call me Willy Whistle cause I can't speak baby
Something in your eyes went and drove me crazy
Now I can't forget you and it makes me mad,
Left one day and never came back
Stayed all summer then went back home,
Macauly Culkin wasn't Home Alone
Fell deep in love,but now we ain't speaking
Michael J Fox was Alex P Keaton
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch
[Chorus]

I'm not sure if "Willy Whistle" is a reference back to the Shakespeare bit, or just looking for a bit of internal rhyme. By the time we get to the repetition of the chorus, though, it has partially devolved into random nostalgic shotouts, devoid of context. (Which makes me think, if they're that lazy with the tie-ins, they could at least have more of them...)

Cherry Pez,cold crush,rock star boogie
Used to hate school so I had to play hookie,
Always been hip to the B-boY Style
Known to act wild and make girls smile,
Love New Edition and the Candy Girl
Remind me of you because you rock my world

Credit for the Beastie Boys reference here, though the "New Edition / Candy Girl" reference seems a bit early? The Beastie Boys License to Ill came out in 1986, but that "Candy Girl" song is 1983, when the main singer would be in third grade -- a bit early, I'd say, but I might be biased because I hadn't heard the song much since.

You come from Georgia where the peaches grow
They drink lemonade and speak real slow

I'd give about 20 extra points of credit if he said "sweet tea" rather than lemonade.

You love hip hop and rock n roll
Dad took off when you were 4 years old
There was a good man named Paul Revere
I feel much better baby when you're near

Paul Revere? The man? Or is it supposed to be the horse from the Beastie Boys song?
You love fun dip and cherry Coke,
I like the way you laugh when I tell a joke
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch

[Chorus]

In the summertime girls got it going on,
Shake and wiggle to a hip hop song
Summertime girls are the kind I like,
I'll steal your honey like I stole your bike

Fun Dip and Cherry Coke are good references... at this point though a third possible Beastie Boys line reference (the honey/bike stealing) seems to be overdoing it.

Bugaloo Shrimp and pogo sticks
My mind takes me back there oh so quick
Let you off the hook like my man Mr. Limpet
Think about that summer and I bug, cause I miss it
Like the color purple,macaroni and cheese,

I had to look up Bugaloo Shrimp but I kind of dig it. Kind of iffy about the "Mr. Limpet" reference, but I appreciate the hook joke, and have some empathy for the missing of this kind of time.

Ruby red slippers and a bunch of trees
Call you up but whats the use
I like Kevin Bacon,but I hate Footloose

Again, I think I'd believe this guy more if he liked Footloose but hated Kevin Bacon. Maybe it's just me.

Came in the door I said it before,I think I'm over you
but I'm really not sure
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch
[Chorus]

Man, they need to mix up the endings to these verses a bit more. Maybe it's more properly a bridge to the Chorus.

In the summer girls come and summer girls go
Some are worth while and some are so so,
Summer girls come and summer girls go
Some are worth while and some are so so,
Summertime girls got it going on
Shake and wiggle to a hip hop song
Summertime girls are the kind I like
I'll steal your honey like I stole your bike

Alright, besides the kind of dimissive "some are so-so" bit, here the song is clearly just winding down.

Sigh. Ok. Having gotten my criticism down onscreen, I can now enjoy this song for what it is, and what it isn't, as it keeps coming back up my seasonal play list. (I would point out that video, while nice for all the torso and skin etc, also gets a deduction for how weird his baggy pants look when he squats down, like in the freeframe from youtube there.)