“ITB” is a perfect piece of ’80s-style punky girl pop. If you ever want to run around the streets with a ton of Aquanet in your pink-streaked hair, wearing a big lacy skirt, dancing with a pack of your best girl friends, this Razor Clam song has to be on your playlist. While they are nostalgic, however, the song’s well-deployed synths, guitar, bass and drums feel authentic and modern, not at all costumey. Lead singer Aya Mara’s agile voice is by turns breathy and forceful, cute and yelpy, just the right vehicle for the lyrics, which deal with a struggle many modern women are faced with: a boyfriend* who wants anal sex when she really doesn’t.
One of the fun things about feminism and the sexual revolution is that it’s become more and more acceptable for women to enjoy sex and to try lots of different kinds of sex with lots of different people. One of the less fun aspects of that shift is the feeling that a woman must have all the kinds of sex or she’s not going to be considered cool, and the way the supreme importance of a man’s pleasure in bed hasn’t lessened for some people over the years. So a girl finds herself in bed with some guy she likes a lot and he want to put it in her butt, and this is her song. It has the least decorative use of the exclamation “ow!” I’ve ever heard in pop music. It’s fun and cheeky and kind of hilarious, but it’s haunted by the unease of wanting to be chill and fun while navigating the feelings of a guy who is not quite taking no for an answer. Honestly, this is a brilliant song about butt sex and modern romance, a real gift to us all.
*I don’t want to be heterosexist in assuming the song is about a man who’s doing the pressuring, so please feel free to sound off in the comments about women who have pressured you for butt stuff.