Single Review: Debbie Gibson “Electric Youth”

As an eight-year-old, I remember going to K-Mart with my mom and seeing the Debbie Gibson perfume, Electric Youth. I was “Mom, Mom, look! Debbie Gibson has a perfume out! Can I get it, please please please?” My mom, knowing I wouldn’t shut up about it the entire time we would be shopping, said it was all right. In the basket it went.

I so didn’t care months later. I think I only wore it once or twice. I had decided I liked Tiffany better and opted to listen to my cassette tape single of “All This Time” every time I played. My Electric Youth cassette went to the bottom of the pile and never, ever got played again. The perfume eventually met its fate: the trash can.

In “Electric Youth” Gibson urging young people to be happy and act silly. Using the metaphor of electricity, she sings she is “zappin’ it to ya.” She adds young people have a lot to deal with and they are tense from it. (“The pressure’s everywhere/Goin’ right through ya
The fever’s in the air/Oh yeah, it’s there!”).

Then, in the chorus, it becomes being retail training video slogan to social message song. She wants people to take their futures and….nothing. She doesn’t elaborate and tells young people to be “electric!” Next, she will demonstrate the right way to counter a rude question of a customer by using the new Be Electric service. (“Electric youth/Feel the power, you see the energy/The future only belongs/to the future itself/Live by it/the next generation”). Suddenly, she’s encouraging youth to think of life past being silly and irresponsible.

In the second verse, she sings that the 80s teenyboppers have a lot of time to figure themselves out. The 80s teenyboppers also have promise and will have a place when they are adults. She tells adults not to hold them back. and to remember what it was like when they were growing up. (“We’ve got the most time/to make the world go round…Place your bet on our sound…Don’t lose sight of potential mastermind/Remember when you were young”). As a single, it feels like two songs were edited into one. She should’ve stuck with the social message version. At least in the second verse, she’s making some valid points.

She telling adults young people are doing what they feel. Acting stupid is being part of it. Then, she’s asking why young people aren’t taken seriously. Next, she sings what she is doing is not a trend and that she’s going to bring the fun to the end. (“We do what come naturally…Don’t you see a strong resemblance to yourself?/Don’t you think what we say is important?/The fun is gonna start with me/’cause I’m bringing it back”).

A spoken outro concludes the song. Gibson says “inflation/flirtation/relaxation/elation/a generation of electric youth.”

A lack of life experience hinders the single. Turning it into how she feels young people don’t have a voice and how they could change it would’ve done wonders. Instead, as the spoken outro shows, being electric means young people should be motivated to get a significant other, lounge around, and always be cheerful.

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