Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Comedian Michelle Buteau on the shrill suckiness of Fine Young Cannibals

In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.

The hater: With the album Shut Up!, under her belt, Michelle Buteau is riding a little higher on the comedy horse. You might’ve caught her on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 and her recent The Half Hour on Comedy Central.

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The hated: Fine Young Cannibals, “She Drives Me Crazy” (1988)

The A.V. Club: Why did you pick this song?

Michelle Buteau: I picked this song because I feel like the title is “She Drives Me Crazy” because she’s so fun, then I heard that guy’s voice and it almost sounds like his balls went back into his body. I’m like, “How did that happen? He sounds terrible!” I’m not into torture, but if I was going to have a prisoner of war, I would just play that song over and over. He sounds so annoying.

Then I was like, “Oh my God, he drives me crazy.” How is this a song? And everybody was singing it at the time and I was like 12—that’s right, I’m old—and I was like, “Everybody stop singing this song! He’s not even saying anything!”

He’s probably driving her crazy following this poor English girl around and in like some London ghetto just saying, “You drive me crazy, come talk to me” and she’s like, “Just wait for your voice to kick in. I just can’t.” The register is too much; if he was on The Voice I would not turn my chair around. I would just get off my chair and go into another room. Like, “I’m not going to be judging until he’s left the building.” I loathe him. And in 1989, it was everywhere. It was on Days Of Our Lives, it was on General Hospital, it was everywhere. It was on every show.

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AVC: You were watching soaps when you were 12?

MB: What else was I watching? Kim Kardashian was too young to have a sex tape, so there were no reality shows.

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I’m sure Taylor Swift’s mom was having sex to that song and that’s the year Taylor was born, 1989. Why do I know that? Oh, right, her album.

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AVC: The success of this song comes more from the sound of the song than the lyrics. It’s not really about anything, except a guy being like, “Hey, I like you” over and over again.

MB: I like songs about nothing; those are my favorite songs. I like movies about nothing, I don’t want to think. I want brain candy. I love Rick Astley, I love Debbie Gibson, I love Tiffany. She had one hit in a mall with like really high-waisted jeans and I listened to that song for like two years. But this guy? I can’t.

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And Fine Young Cannibals? That’s their name? That’s a dumb fucking name. What does that mean?

AVC: That’s a good question, I don’t actually know.

MB: Exactly. It’s gross! It’s gross.

AVC: The singer is still recording music. His name is Roland Gift.

MB: Terrible song. And people used to ask me if we were related. Like what the fuck? All light-skinned black people look alike? I don’t understand. We’re all related? No.

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AVC: People thought you were related to the Fine Young Cannibals?

MB: Yes!

AVC: Why would they say that?

MB: People are stupid. I was from Jersey and nobody knows anything. We didn’t have Google back then.

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AVC: This song is pretty one-sided. We never get any of the girl’s perspective. We just know this dude’s obsessed with her.

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MB: I tried to listen to it and figure out why, because sometimes guys will explain in a song why, like she had a boyfriend, she was working, she was a cocktail waitress [in The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”]. She can’t do anything on her shift! Like when the guy was stuck in a cartoon and she had to get him out of the cartoon [in A-ha’s “Take On Me” video]? There had to be a reason, but this girl had no reason. So if I was a young female and a guy said, “You drive me crazy” and he was down with a group called the Fine Young Cannibals, I’d be like, “look, Cannibals. You got your own thing going on. It’s a disease, it’s an affliction, that’s fine. You do what you have to do, but you can’t just claim to be fine and gorgeous now. That’s not how it works. Who do you think you are? You have shoulder pads and wear hair products. Go away!”

I think everyone felt crazy. I hate that song.

AVC: It hasn’t aged well.

MB: Do you know the red dress song? Oh my God, I can’t. I’m not going to go off on a tangent.

AVC: “Lady In Red”?

MB: “is dancing with me”? If I have to go to one more of my mom’s parties and watch one of these old bitches dance in a red dress…I can’t. It’s like every season finale of every sitcom. I think it was on Family Ties, too.

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Anyway, back to the Fine Young Cannibals. I feel bad that they’re still making music. I want them to have to explain the cannibal thing. Nobody asked them and we need to figure that shit out. Maybe if we follow them and investigate them, we’ll learn a lot more about other crimes that have happened. I’m not saying I’m blaming them for anything specifically that happened, but it’s like Ghostface Killah. Is he killing ghosts? I don’t know what he’s doing, but the Fine Young Cannibals are pretty obvious.

AVC: Do you think they’re trying to tell us something?

MB: Maybe! Maybe. And nobody is listening because his voice is annoying.

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