14
Aug 08

ROD STEWART – “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

FT + Popular65 comments • 4,083 views

#429, 2nd December 1978

HAHAHA “Do ya think I’m sexy?” heh heh well the answer to that Rod is…..

NO!

AHAHAHAHAHA!

It’s the gag no pop show talking head can resist, but the title line doesn’t actually show up in this admittedly odd record, and Rod isn’t singing about himself. This is a character piece, a study of disco pick-ups and their awkwardness. In fact Rod lays the awkwardness on very thick indeed – it’s a wonder the pair of shy mumblers he describes ever get down to it – and the song doesn’t quite convince because Rod obviously is, well, not sexy exactly maybe but sexually confident, and what’s he doing here anyhow? In the video the girl seems to be being chatted up by a TV with Rod’s face on it, and then has sex with a Rod lookalike while being watched by TV Rod: it’s an unintentionally fine illustration of how weirdly intrusive Rod’s shaggy presence in his own song feels.

The awkwardness isn’t confined to the narrative, of course: Rod is one of a number of big 70s figures gritting their teeth and ‘going disco’, and at least the song’s nightlife setting gives him an excuse. The results are musically mixed: that keyboard riff is imperious in its swagger, but the groove is woefully lumpy and the song has chugged into inertia well before it reaches the morning after. It’s a game try at a rock-disco crossover, and deserves more than a cheap laugh – but not much more.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    Malice Cooper on 15 Aug 2008 #

    The best thing about this is when you find someone who hates Rod Stewart, this will be the song they hate the most and you can justify playing it to them as it was so popular. Only he could get away with it and he did.

  2. 52
    o sobek! on 15 Aug 2008 #

    love love love ‘taj mahal’, moderately like this – there’s much much much better old rocker gone disco moves (yoko, roxy music) and much much better post-sellout rod (another ‘young turks’ shoutout) out there but this is far far from the worst example of either. even after i’d gone back and discovered all the old stewart/small faces stuff that really is pretty great and helps you understand just why corny old rock fuxxors really do detest stewarts pop stuff this still sounded fine to me, not nearly as regrettable as say elton john’s disco move (rivals merman for bad disco). i know there’s the old ‘ah but actually’ w/ the lyrics a la ‘born in the usa’ or ‘memphis’ but his voice and delivery work better w/ the straightforward reading, if barry gibb provided the ideal for straight, white suburban discos than rod stewart (to this day even) embodied its reality – horny, hairy, relentless, clueless. ’4′ seems about right.

  3. 53
    wichita lineman on 16 Aug 2008 #

    I wonder if this would cause such strength of feeling if it had a different title. The storyline is its strongest point for me – when they first arrive there I imagine the gent’s apartment has blinds like the sleek pad in American Gigolo, yet by the morning it sounds more Brooklyn boho (out of milk and coffee, the slob). The title, then, doesn’t seem like anything either character would say, or even think, and does spoil the effect. I’d guess it was an in-joke, or Rod knew exactly the kind of fuss it would cause and shoehorned it in.

    Not coincidentally, the highly atmospheric Young Turks – I’m very pleased we’re all in agreement on its greatness! – is another story song, as almost all of Rod’s best songs are. It’s denouement is hilarious and touching at the same time, and somehow passed me by when the single came out. Is that “YEAH!” a warning, genuine joy at the birth, or a mocking laugh at the characters’ youth instantly evaporating?

  4. 54
    Nate P. on 17 Aug 2008 #

    Something that’s been kind of overlooked in all the Jorge-got-robbed discussion around this song (not just here, but in general) is that there’s another blatant lift in DYTIS — the keyboard riff came directly from the strings in Bobby Womack’s “If You Want My Love Put Something Down on It”.

  5. 55

    wow, turner prize to womack for double entendre there i think!

  6. 56
    mike on 18 Aug 2008 #

    More unlikely covers: Macy Gray is currently performing this in her live set, along with covers of “Creep” and “Groove Is In The Heart”.

  7. 57
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 18 Aug 2008 #

    “creep” by the fall?

  8. 58
    DJ Punctum on 18 Aug 2008 #

    “Creep” by Radiohead?

    “Creep” by TLC?

  9. 59
    SteveM on 18 Aug 2008 #

    the Stone Temple Piliots ‘Creep’ surely

  10. 60
    Doctormod on 19 Aug 2008 #

    p^nk #41–

    Ah, Wayne/Jayne, “Man Enough to Be a Woman.” The cover sounds delightful, but while Rod’s at it he should do “Texas Chainsaw Manicure” as the b-side.

  11. 61
    mike on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Sorrysorry: “Creep” by Radiohead. I’ve also seen her covering Melanie’s “Brand New Key”, presumably unaware of its subsequent Wurzelisation…

  12. 62
    Chris Brown on 24 Aug 2008 #

    Obvious question we’ve touched on but not got to the bottom of – why “Da Ya”? As already established it can hardly be intended as a representation of how Rod pronounces the phrase, because he doesn’t. For me that spelling just adds to the atmosphere of tackiness, in a way that seems all the worse when it’s so inappropriate. It seems like Rod is almost challenging us in his most unpleasant show-offish way; and thus camoflaging everything that’s actually good about this record, such as it is. Obviously this has been in my life as far back as I can remember, but it was a bit of a jolt when I listened to the verse lyrics for the first time.

  13. 63
    Iron J on 7 Feb 2012 #

    The synth hook is so euphoric, I forgive my man Rod for submitting a lackluster vocal performance. The production doesn’t suit him well anyway.

  14. 64
    Brendan on 25 Sep 2012 #

    While it’s clear he’s already fallen into the self-parody trap by now he still sounds as if he believes in the song and there are enough elements to make it agreeable all the way through (especially the wonderful bassline which most of the best disco tunes had (I’m not saying this was one of them, just that at least it was a valid attempt to be). I’m happy to give it a 6.

  15. 65
    hectorthebat on 28 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 301
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 308
    Dave Thompson (UK) – 1000 Songs that Rock Your World (2011) 103
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 18
    Theater van het Sentiment, Radio 2 (NL) – Top 40 Songs by Year 1969-2000 (2013) 28
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – The 500 Best Songsof All Time (2004) 363
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

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