Thursday, October 8, 2020

"Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" by Aerosmith

Song#:  3281
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  14
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  The 80s had not been kind to Aerosmith. The two albums they released in '82 and '85 failed to reach gold level sales upon release and none of their singles reached the Pop chart. They were on the brink of becoming irrelevant, but then in '86 two things happened that helped to get their career back on track. First, they participated in a remake of their own hit "Walk This Way" with Run-D.M.C. The single would hit #4 at Pop, go gold, and put a spotlight back on Aerosmith. The band wanted to capitalize on their resurgence and in order to do so they decided it was time to get sober. The members agreed to go through rehab and once done they got back into the studio with a fresh new outlook. Working sober and extra hard, they were determined to make an album that would get them back on the charts. They chose to work with producer Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi) and for the first time worked with outside songwriters. The results came out as Permanent Vacation and to announce their return this first single was released. It quickly became their first Top 10 at Rock reaching #4. At Pop, it started low, but gained momentum until it finally cracked the Top 20. It was their best result on the chart since "Walk This Way" hit #10 in 1976. A remix became their only song to reach the Dance chart at #41. The associated video would be a hit on MTV and would go on to be nominated for two MTV Music Video Awards.The album would just barely miss the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11, but it would end up being a multi-platinum hit that cemented the band's comeback.

ReduxReview:  This was a brilliant comeback song for the band. Although they had help with the tune (see below), it still featured Tyler and Perry's signature bluesy rock touches with Tyler sounding fully on and engaged. Sobriety can do wonders. I totally loved the track and bought the single and later the album. Although they hated the idea of working with other songwriters, it paid off big time for them. Their writing became more succinct and played towards the mainstream. Fairbairn's meaty production also gave the band a fresh, crisp new sound. Being gay, I know I'm probably not supposed to like this song (see below), but I do. I can understand why others see it differently, but my opinion is that it was not written with malicious intent or to make fun of a certain group of people. There is even a line in it about not being judgemental. So, to each their own I guess. I thought it was a fun song and I still enjoy it. Plus it led to Aerosmith putting out more great material over the next decade.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was co-written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and hit-making songwriter Desmond Child. Although the stories on how the song came about vary in detail, for the most part it seemed that the lyrics were inspired by a meet-up the band had with Mötley Crüe. Apparently, when Tyler entered the bar where Mötley Crüe was, he saw someone with big blonde hair and thought it was a woman. Then he found out it was Mötley Crüe's lead singer Vince Neil. Neil then kind of got made fun of with someone mentioning that the dude looked like a lady. Tyler and Perry then began work on a tune that was based on the identity error. Initially, Tyler sang the chorus as "crusin' for the ladies," but Desmond Child quickly nixed it. Tyler then said he had been initially singing "dude looks like a lady," but thought it wasn't working. Child assure Tyler that his first version was the song's title.   2) This song was not without controversy. There were many folks that considered the song transphobic and thought it portrayed trans women in a negative way. Child would defend the song as being about acceptance. Still, the song remained a sore spot for some and years later when Caitlyn Jenner mentioned that "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" was a sort of theme song for her, LGBT activists took her to task for it because they still considered the song transphobic.


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