The best romantic advice someone gave me was this: “Find someone who knows all lyrics to the chorus of 'Girls and Boys'.” And they were right, because it means the person is aware of love and partying, as well as the whole spectrum of sexual orientations out there. They are a valuable person who happens to have also great taste in music.
This track is a party playlist favorite, but most will just mumble the famous:
Girls who are boys
Who like boys to be girls
Who do boys like they’re girls
Who do girls like they’re boys
“Girls and Boys” was the culmination of 10 years of hard partying, drugs, and social change in the UK. It’s a victory for counterculture and sexual freedom, and like Simon Reynolds says in the book Energy Flash, “It all started with M, as in Ecstasy. This substance changed the minds of young Brits and led them to experiment with sounds in a whole new way.”
At the end of the eighties, the craze for punk and its subsequent sub-genres blasting in the underground scene began to die down. Then a pair of DJs traveled to Ibiza, tried Ecstasy, and discovered the power of Acid House. This drug was still unknown in the United Kingdom, so they introduced it and unleashed a sonic revolution that lasted for a decade.
House became so popular in England that some rock bands were heavily influenced by its sound, particularly Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. Ian Brown often said he was tired of eighties rock and would only listen to Funk and House. The Madchester movement changed Brit-pop forever.
You could say that Blur is the product of the hedonist scene where young people would get together in warehouses and factories to consume MDMA and dance all night. That influence is very obvious in “Girls and Boys”, which talks about intense nights at a bar in Mallorca, a sister island to Ibiza. There are rumors that Damon Albarn wrote it when he travelled there and experienced some nonstop partying.
According to Graham Coxon, the song was a hit because, “It’s the kind of song that’s fun and the public responds to. Mainly because there’s nothing complicated about it; it’s got a catchy chorus, and some weird sexual connotations. It’s got a disco beat with lyrics about holidays and sex.” The video is also a collection of references to vacations, heat, good times, and, of course, sex. As if the lyrics and visuals were not sexual enough, the artwork on the single was made to look like a box of condoms.
The moment England succumbed to the charms of House music and integrated it to its Alt-rock scene is not as talked about as other movements. But its evidence remains in the music of bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, The Charlatans, and Blur, obviously.
Translated by María Suárez