Blowies @ the Y.M.C.A.
the limp-wristed trend to Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” ft. SZA
Backup Account will always be brief—not 280 characters brief, but brief as in each edition will focus on one TikTok only. Paid subscribers thank you for your support, new perks below. Follow me on IG or TT for antics.
“I never understood why this became a thing, you know they’re singing about getting blow jobs at the gym right?” is one of the most memorable things my father ever said to me. He was referring to the Village People’s "Y.M.C.A." as it blared out of the speakers at a Bat Mitzvah party. Those words made a lasting impression on my 13-year-old closeted brain. I felt it re-stamp itself when this TikTok slid across my feed:
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When my dad leaned over his banquet chair some two decades ago, to snicker about BJs, I was on the job (no pun intended). Picture me: a painfully nerdy and overweight middle schooler with a VHS camcorder hung over my ill-fitting dress shirt, a cheap tie, and an awkwardly long shotgun mic. Let’s just say my weekends were free so I started my own ‘videography’ business for Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. I was documenting a lot of the "Y.M.C.A.", “Electric Slide”, and “1 stomp this time - boom!” Every time the hands of grandma Esther raised to form the letter Y a rush of nervous energy would flood my pubescent bod. It was no secret that the Village People were, as we say in Yiddish, ‘faygeleh.’ But it wasn’t until my dad revealed the subtext that I could unpack the pit in my stomach for this clumsy wedding dance-along.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time
It's fun to stay at the "Y.M.C.A.".
40 years of music history later… supposedly the origin of the limp-wrist trend to Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” (ft. SZA) came from 18-year-old creator @lukehallows. Already a popular song for TikToks, he used the crystal chime sound in the middle of SZA’s verse on “Kiss Me More”, with a flick of the wrist, to go from straight to gay. His coming-out recontextualization of this candy-crush ding catapulted it into TikTok stardom. The internet went and did its thing. The trend truly peaked at the Club 90’s Sour Prom party, where hundreds of 16-18 -year-old girls flopped their wrists in unison, seemingly unprompted. Sooooo much to unpack here (paid subscribers get a piece of my mind on building virality into a song for TikTok and how the industry practice dates all the way back to the "Y.M.C.A.".).
You’ll be pressed to find a queer person excited to do the "Y.M.C.A."., let alone at a family-funded coming-of-age ceremony. For me, the "Y.M.C.A.". felt like a gun at the temple, “Dance Motherfuker!” kind of situation - gay if you do, gay if you don’t. It is bad enough that queer people have to hide in plain sight during religious celebrations. I don’t need to expand on how awkward singing about getting blasphemous blowjobs next to Grandpa is? I thought I would feel the same about the girls at Club 90s doing a Guinness Book of World Records for limp-wrists on TikTok. But I don’t. I feel the exact opposite. It fills my cup.
The bling sound during SZA’s rap verse is meant to be a censor bleep for a bad word.
Caught dippin' with your friend
You ain't even half, man,
lyin' on your ****, you know that
But even the uncensored version has the ding. An easter egg built into the tune. SZA is making a jab here insinuating something suss about her lover. That sound, hovering over the lyric like a giant Lisa Frank trapper. She may not have limped her wrist in the video but thousands of video creators sure did.
Even if it wasn’t SZA’s artistic intent, this listener-based interpolation is at the core of pop music. The Boomers took the subtext of "Y.M.C.A.". and turned it into something hateful and TikTok did the opposite. "Y.M.C.A.". feels like a witch-hunt where as the “Kiss Me More” trend feels like that scene in Spartacus.