Poet On Pop: Saturday Night by Whigfield

Dee Dee na nah nah nah naaaah! 

I have long been a lover of a Scandinavian bop with a melancholic streak. Searching back in my history, Saturday Night may have been one of the first that I truly loved. It’s not just the catchy beats and the repetitive lyrics, it was the simplistic (but oddly iconic) video and the incredibly involved and energetic dance routine which went along with it. I remember being in discos or parties and jumping around trying to follow the dance moves to the beat of the song.

Revisiting the song now, years later, I really felt the melancholy that lies underneath the pop and rewatching the memorable video I discovered, to my horror, a moment of pure David Lynch style nightmare fuel (more on that later…)

The song seems to exist within a state of hope, or a sense of hoping for something to happen. The lyrics all lean on this “I WILL”:

“I’ll make you mine, you know I’ll take you to the top”

The sense of getting ready and of it actually not yet being Saturday Night is  reflected in the video. Whigfield sits in her towel with her hair up in front of a glamorous mirror getting ready. Through the video we cut between Whigfield in her towel and Whigfield dressed and plaiting her hair.

 

 

 

Of course music videos in the early 90s were not the grand affairs we see now. In this video there was just Whigfield and her mirror, her towels, and her hair dryer. A relatable and seemingly normal world. She was a normal girl getting ready to go out, she has someone she has a crush on that she is going to see out tonight, someone she has a history with or wishes to. The song plays on,  the electronic beats never really waiver but the keyboard modulates in the background in tones which I’d call either hopeful or pensive (if not outright sad). She has tried to pick up this crush before but it hasn’t worked. This is the last chance for her to get out there and make it work. She “likes the way [they] move” and pleas several times “BE MY BABY”.

As the video builds we notice that Whigfield has a handful of black and white photographs on her nightstand, which she is flicking through, the pictures are of attractive men, potential suitors from the club perhaps? Then, in what I found to be a truly upsetting  moment of pure Lynchian horror, one of the pictures is a colour photograph of a bloodied man with large devil horns coming out of his head, grinning demonically at the camera. Whigfield rests on this photograph for a second, kisses it and places it on her mirror.

 

 

 

All of this happens very quickly in the video around the 2mins 50secs mark, as the song itself is resolving and begins to repeat its refrain to the end. If you doubted the melancholic undertones to the song, this moment in the video surely proves that Saturday Night is about a strange longing which can never be fully realised. Are we to believe from this moment that Whigfield is in love with the devil? Or does Whigfield repeat this towel and hairdryer ritual each Saturday Night as a tribute to the devil until her strange magic has worked and the devil in the photograph has done her bidding, bringing the person she has a crush on into her Danish embrace?

I’m sure you’ll agree that there is something uniquely disturbing about watching something you loved and (thought you knew)  every frame of from your childhood to see it again as an adult and see this clear moment of unsettling horror all amongst the familiarity of the rest of the video.  Like noticing a ghostly face in the background of a family photograph.

I love you, Whigfield, and I love your strange Scandinavian Devil Magic. I hope whoever it was was worth it in the end and you were released from the groundhog day existences of these Saturday Night rituals.

Whigfield is still performing now, sometimes going by her real name Sannie, her most recent album was released in 2012.

Dee Dee na nah nah nah naaaah! 

Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara: 1. Music

 

IMG_8209
Grilled Halloumi Wrap from Leon & Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems

 

“I am naked as a tablecloth, my nerves humming”

 

I walk up and down Tottenham Court Road finding lunch options slim. I discover when I arrive at a usually dependable last resort lunch spot that the whole shop has been gutted, emptied, even the sign taken off the outside. Peering inside, I press my face to the glass like a nosy child. I see empty chairs stacked up in the corner, nothing left of the counter or the coffee machines, even the huge coolers which once held sandwiches have been taken away (a reusable asset?) I wonder about music as I listen to the same Patrick Wolf song over and over (“The Days”) this was brought delicately into my mind by seeing the film God’s Own Country recently. I think about Frank, having bough Lunch Poems at Gay’s The Word the other day. I think about acting on this idea: reading a lunch poem every now and again at lunch and writing about what happened. I see a fire engine get stuck negotiating the sharp corner of Keppel and Malet street.

The afternoon is hot. I left my jacket in the office. I write this in pencil.

“Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear”  

 

1. MUSIC – Frank O’Hara 

      If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf’s
and I am naked as a tablecloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35¢, it’s so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
     I must tighten my belt.
It’s like a locomotive on the march, the season
     of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter’s
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they’re putting up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
     But no more fountains and no more rain,
     and the stores stay open terribly late.

[1954]

Poem: Behind the British Museum

Behind the British Museum

The road is closed on Montague Place
and a mobile crane has been engaged
to sift through the contents of the lorry
and hoist up particular blondewood boxes.
Anonymous, they sail upward with a slow spin
steadied by the neon orange safety straps.
Bodies inside bandages inside caskets
inside boxes, the artefacts return.

 

 

 

Poem: Things I Miss

Things I Miss

I
The tug of another planet

and that fraught approach
across the empty.

II
Just when each thing
has an equal answer

and forces rest
on a fair zero.

III
Being earthbound
and whispering
to him

the secret
to the science
of falling.

Poem: why I’m scared to let go of the papers

why I’m scared to let go of the papers

A folded boarding card from a flight long completed.
The train ticket from the airport into Stockholm central station
a stream of small print in Swedish. Suddenly:
the clacking of the departure boards. How the American
came up to me pointing in his guidebook
and I watched him smile as I told him
directions to Sergels Torg in English.

If I forget the morning brightness
of his laughter, the particularity
of his kiss,

at least I’ve kept these papers.

A till receipt from fika,
the entrance tickets
to Skansen,
his old email
address
in his
curling
hand
-writing.

This poem appeared in issue 19 of Under the Radar Magazine