Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Haddaway - What Is Love? (1993/ No. 2/ 15 weeks/ Logic)

"What is love?
Baby don't hurt me
Don't hurt me
No more
Baby don't hurt me
Don't hurt me
No more"

Here's a record that transcends its function. Its commercial purpose is to act as a suitable soundtrack for couples to hook up to on dance floors, but - even while its the definitive disc to achieve that noble purpose - the wealth of longing in the record gives it a striking emotional depth.

Why? Because it gives us the most vulnerable moment of the glory days of Europop. It allows for the existence of doubt and pain, making the stakes almost unbearably high. The rhythm stops stone dead at points. Haddaway's yearnings are partially responded to by a spectral wail from the loved other. The prospect of failure and rejection is all over the minimal lyrics - "I would die"!

I can't think of any other single that would make the encounter with the loved other seem so triumphant, or its failure to occur seem so crushing.

Perhaps I just haven't moved on very much since 1993...

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