Hoo boy was the turn of the century a doozy of a time for pop music. I was a tween, which is ideal considering Britney and Christina were just breaking out, BSB and NSYNC were holdin’ strong, and the songs “Summer Girls” by LFO, and “All Star” by Smash Mouth (yep, what a concept) were at the top of the charts. (It’s genuinely hard to believe that a time existed before “All Star,” isn’t it?) Had I been the age I am now around the new millennium I have a feeling I’d have been less enthused by this music.
Another chart-topping song around that time was a little ditty named “Butterfly” by the group Crazy Town. If you were between the ages of 10 and 18 in 2000, don’t even pretend like you don’t remember this catchy piece of trash. I’ve been to more than a few 90’s dance parties in the past few years where not only was this song played, but everyone still remembers all the words. Shame on us.
In the late 90s, rap-rock was having a moment. I still have vivid memories of Carson Daly, his finger nails painted black and his hair spiked with gel, announcing some of the top requested videos of the day, which were sometimes held by bands like Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, and [deep, dramatic sigh] Crazy Town.
First, why don’t we talk about the band name a little? Based on what these guys look like (eye makeup, bleached hair, piercings, tattoos for days), I imagine they’re trying to go for a tough image. Yet, to me, the name Crazy Town more evokes the image of an 11-year-old describing his parents when they won’t give him a lift to the mall (“Dude, you guys are being so crazy town. Not fair!”) More appropriate names for this band might have been: Arachnid Nightmare, Seizure Steve & His Chain Gang, or maybe just PUS.
What I didn’t know, until I started researching for this blog post, is that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are credited as co-writers on this song because it samples some guitar music from their 1989 instrumental “Pretty Little Ditty.” Additionally, Crazy Town was a supportive act on a RHCP tour later that year. Which brings me to – THANKS A WHOLE FRIGGIN LOT, ANTHONY KIEDIS, FOR BRINGING THIS BAND TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. Not.
So if the RHCP are responsible for most of the instrumentation on this song, that leaves Crazy Town to write the lyrics. Let’s explore, shall we?
“I used to think happy endings were only in the books I read”
There’s no way this guy has ever read a book.
“Butterflies in her eyes and looks to kill.
Time is passing I’m asking could this be real?
‘Cause I can’t sleep I can’t hold still,
The only thing I really know is she got sex appeal.”
Look out, Bob Dylan. Someone’s comin’ for your job!
“My lifestyle’s wild. I was living like a wild child,
Trapped on a short leash, paroled the police files.
So yo, what’s happening now?
I see the sun breaking down into dark clouds
And a vision of you standing out in a crowd.”
Nothing will help you turn your life around like a girl with a nipple piercing.
“Whatever tickles your fancy,
Girl it’s you, like Sid and Nancy.”
Didn’t Sid Vicious murder Nancy Spungen?
Next, here’s a timeline showing all of the Crazy Town band members from over this years.
This actually blows my mind a little. How were there so many different clowns out there willing to join this particular circus? Though I guess most didn’t stick around too long. And after a four-year hiatus in the mid-aughts, the band is back together and touring. So, good news! If you have $15-18, you too can see them play with opening band Davey Suicide. Or you could just get out your Zippo and light a handful of bills on fire. Either way, you lose.
Ok, so if “Butterfly” is so awful, then why did we ever listen? Because goddammit, it’s a catchy song! Even at age 30, I am kind of willing to admit this. Also, back then we were 12 and living in the suburbs, and these punks seemed edgy and shocking. Oh my!
And now it’s time for me to go take a shower (probably using bleach and sandpaper).
(** In order for me to write this blog post, I ended up having to listen to this song a couple dozen times. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.)