Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men

Last week when I was at the dentist, I tried to turn my attention away from the oh so pleasurable experience of getting my teeth cleaned and found salvation in the music that was playing over the office speakers.

The music started out was perfectly appropriate: elaxing 1990s, non-offensive love songs “I Swear” by All 4 One. Then as the scrapping part of the cleaning began I heard the unmistakable introduction of “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men.

This just felt wrong.

Now this had nothing to do with the hygienist who was cleaning my teeth. She was friendly and professional and didn’t ask me questions when I had no way of answering them (God, I hate it when dentist do that).  It was just that getting my teeth cleaned and listening to a song about “making love” was one of the oddest juxtapositions I’ve experienced in a long time.

“I’ll Make Love To You” was huge. This song was everywhere. It topped of the charts for 14 weeks!! The music video was being played all of the time and if you listened to the radio at all when this song was out it seemed to be played on every single station.

I don’t know what was going on when this song was out. Was there simply nothing else for people to listen to? I was in middle school when this song came out and people my age loved this song, what?!? How did this song appeal to us? I guess I can understand how some lonely spinster would play into the fantasy of the song but the rest of the world?

Maybe there’s some answers in the music video.

The video opens with a man (Dwayne) who is finishing up installing a security system. He talks the woman (Ms. Sparks!!), who asks him out, he can’t go out with her so he gives her his personal phone number if she has any questions about the system. Thinking about Ms. Sparks, Dwayne sits down and tries to write her a letter. Not knowing what to say he copies down lyrics of the song in the letter and sends it to her. Reading the letter, Ms. Sparks swoons.

Boyz II Men are singing “I’ll Make Love To You” as if they are doing something for the woman that they would not normally do, something amazing that she asks for and doesn’t get. If this song was about something that would really take effort for a guy to do for a girl it would be more like “I’ll Clean Up The House For You,” “I’ll Do Grocery Shopping And Do All The Cooking For You” or “I’ll Stop Making Moves On You When You’re Clearly Not In The Mood.”

Wait a second, I think I just figured out the appeal of this song. This song isn’t a fantasy for woman, it’s a fantasy for men. Think about it. Can you imagine if telling a girl that you “would make love to them” was enough to make a girl want to be with you? God knows that most woman would be creeped out beyond belief if a guy who they just met told them that.

Boyz II Men created a song that song that sounded like it appealed to woman, so guys bought it to help them be romantic AND the songs appealed to guys misconceptions of romance.

Anyways, I don't know what's going to bother me more, the fact that when I hear "I'll Make Love To You" I'll think about being at the dentist or the fact that next time I have my teeth cleaned I'll be thinking about "I'll Make Love To You." [shudder].


  1. I love that you wrote about this song, because I too have struggled and laughed, looking back, at its appeal to us as middle schoolers. I often say, and truthfully to my best recollection, that this song was played at every (every!) school dance I attended between fall of 7th grade through my high school prom.

    What stamina!


  2. In some ways it's less inappropriate for kids to listen to music that has meaningless expletives than "I'll Make Love To You, a song that so shamelessly expresses a distorted and just plain weird sentiment.

    What disturbs me even more is not so much the image of middle school of dancing to this song but rather the sound of them singing along to it.