Worst Songs Ever: Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Jet – “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #29 in April 2004

ROCK IS BACK! a Rolling Stone cover announced in 2002, pretending Creed, Lenny Kravitz, and 3 Doors Down weren’t still having hits and that cover stars the Vines looked like N Sync in Strokes dragBenefiting not a bit from the ministrations of the Jannsters but quite a lot from the last stores of CD-era dough in record company bank accounts, Jet scored a couple awful hits in the early Dubya years, a nightmarish era when the discussions about gender and sexuality that characterized the previous decade were shelved as the Bush’s war on the environment, the federal government, and Iraq raged without end. It isn’t that a Jet weren’t possible in 1993 or 1983; it’s that smart people said stupid things about what rock needed to do to maintain its so-called relevance when Ashanti, Destiny’s Child, and Nelly had hits.

The Australian band does wrap “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” in a pretty bow: there are peer-reviewed journal articles proving how it’s impossible to write a bad song using the James Jamerson bass line from “You Can’t Hurry Love.” But I don’t write this article to call “Are You Gonna…” a bad song. Intended for listeners besotted with back-to-basics moves, “Are You Gonna…” might have annoyed me less had it ended at the sixty-second mark; at 3:33, though, it’s a brutalizing experience, like getting locked inside a Chuck E. Cheese’s, or reading Montesquieu. The hit goes one further: an elongated mishmash of Motown and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life, with the mephitic vapors of Nic Cester’s commands front and center. It’s a long, big, dumb rock song that caught a wave but whose big dumb rock catchiness gave aid and comfort to The Black Keys and Kings of Leon.

The 2006 followup Shine On earned a rare zero from Pitchfork and, better, a video review of a chimp pissing in its own mouth. This requires talent. I hope Jet were flattered.

3 thoughts on “Worst Songs Ever: Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’

  1. I’ve always wanted to defend this song. I believe in song doctoring. What it needed to cure? Basically, Iggy’s very dry, tongue-in-cheek delivery over the amazing drum pattern of “Lust for Life”, which is awesome as “Mod”, but lacks the soul of the best Motown records. Which IT IS! Well, this song delivers the “soul”. I heart it, at least. Lousy band, otherwise.

    Another one I had to defend: The trippy, child-like, psychedelic version of Steven’s “Father and Son” which is “Fight Test”. Plagiarism my ass. Doctoring.

      • Well, I like both. Jet’s added the soul lacking in the first (perhaps, that was the point) but still… “Lust” is a Motown Song disguised as Punk, Mod, whatevs. Have you ever heard a Motown song without the soul? Me neither. One is the boldest original, the “raw sex” the other is the more sentimental “love letter”. An intentional homage, maybe. I think they complement each other really well, actually. Plus, I have “Are you gonna…” next to “Seven Nation’s Army”. Exactly the way I’ve heard those for the first time on radio, back in 2003 in Argentina (where I live) . It was an adrelanine shot to amy brain. Mainstream RADIO was not supposed to rock that hard way back then. I stopped studying for a final exam I had the next day and started dancing and pogoing alone. Enough to put them both in my list. Context matters. Later on, I found out you guys ripped apart Jet’s song at Stylus (was a regular reader by 2006).
        I found your blurbs too harsh and misguiding, frankly. Jet, as a band, sucks. But they got it right with this one. Did Iggy sued them? I think he would have danced, too:))

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