Single Review: Bow Wow Wow “I Want Candy”

I Want Candy
Album: I Want Candy
Year: 1982

In honor of Easter, the holiday of marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies, and speckled jelly beans is a review of Bow Wow Wow’s cover of the Strangelove’s 1965 hit “I Want Candy.”

The original begins with a big band drum beat, leading into a sly guitar riff. Then, the Strangeloves’ Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottherer start the first chorus. There’s a girl they like who looks like she may be rough around the edges but is actually a kind person. She’s the prettiest girl in town and has every quality they are looking for in a girlfriend. (“I know a girl who’s tough but sweet/She’s so fine, she can’t be beat/She’s got everything that I desire/Sets the summer sun on fire”). Each lyric is punctated with the shorter version of the guitar riff in the beginning.

In the chorus, they declare that they want her. (“I want candy, I want candy”). Candy has multiple eupheisms in the single. In the chorus, candy stands for it’s literal meaning: a nickname for a beautiful girl

After the big band drum beats, summery guitars follow with punchy “hey’s” by the Strangeloves. It creates an airy but slightly rugged tone. The Strangeloves are the sort of guys who the beautiful girl has been warned to stay away from. They go watch her flip and toss her hair on the beach. They admire her overall beauty again. They needed to be aroused and drool as they view her body. (“Goin’ to see her with her hair hung down/ain’t no finer girl in town/candy’s just what the doctor ordered/she’s so sweet, she makes my mouth water”).

During the second chorus, a saxophone joins in with the drums and guitar.

In the third verse, they ogle her as she walks across the beach. Candy takes on another meaning in the next lyric, though. However, they would like to see her breasts in a tight sweater. They are going to vie for her attention and one of them they will have her as his girlfriend. Candy’s next eupheism is sex. Once they have her, they will be able to touch her. (“Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better/But I like candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater/Some day soon I’ll make her mine,/Then I’ll have candy all the time”).

Big band drum beats and the short guitar riff return briefly to end the single.

The Strangelove’s version is michievious and has a bad boy vibe to it. Underneath their harmless compliments, they have strong sexual desires for the girl at the center of the song.

In the Bow Wow Wow update, tropical drum beats begin the song which, like the original, leads to a guitar. This time, the guitar is high-spirited. Lead singer Annabella Lwin squeals that she’s talked to a hot guy. (“I know a guy who’s tough but sweet….sets the summer sun on fire”). Like the original, the guitar riff punctates each lyric.

Lwin declares that she wants him. The double meaning of the word candy is clearer here due to the gender change. (“I want candy/I want candy”).

There’s a lyric change made in the second verse. Instead of her seeing him with his “hair hung down,” she says she will go to visit him at night. According to her, he’s the cutest guy on the beach. (“Go to see him when the sun goes down/Ain’t no finer boy in town”). Unlike the Strangeloves, Lwin has talked with him. She flirts that he’s her boyfriend and exactly what she likes. She then chatters nervously as she compliments him. (“You’re my guy, just what the doctor ordered/So sweet, you make my mouth water”).

After Lwin’s hearty “yeah,” the tropical drum beats take center stage. The saxophone has been replaced by guitar, which extends the opening riff.

She likes seeing him on the beach. However, she would rather like to see him in a snug sweater. This lyric, without the double meaning, does not make any sense. She vows to make him her boyfriend and says then he will be around her all the time. (“Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better/But I like candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater/Some day soon I’ll make her mine,/Then I’ll have candy all the time”).

The single ends with the “hey’s” at the end.

Ironically, the modern version is innocent. Lwin is girly as she pursues her summer crush. Since she does talk to the him the creepiness of the original gone. Bow Wow Wow made enough modifications to make it their own.


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