Songs We Wish We Could Forget: Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy"

We all know it's a joke but is anyone really laughing?
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Junkyard Jukebox - I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred is a joke. I mean a literal joke, of course. The song is thoroughly facetious and ironic. It is purposefully silly and vapid. I presume most of the people, if not all of the people, who don’t like this song realize that. They know it is supposed to be a humorous, perhaps even satirical, song, albeit one that lacks more of an edge in favor of over the top declarations of sexiness. My God, the sexiness! Alas, there are probably some people who don’t get the joke, as the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right (To Party)” has taught us. The fact of the matter is the world is teeming with, shall we say, less than intelligent people. Which isn’t to say that you’re an idiot if you misinterpreted “I’m Too Sexy” or “Fight for Your Right (To Party).” It’s more a lack of perception than anything, and quite frankly with a one hit wonder like Right Said Fred it is certainly less obvious. Why, in this very collection of essays I said I couldn’t tell whether Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” was ironic or not, though I eventually sided with the former. It’s certainly possible somebody could write a moronic song about being “too sexy” and be serious about it. Why, I’m sure that has happened. Maybe that’s what this “LMFAO” I’ve heard so much about is doing. It just wasn’t Right Said Fred who did it.

The question is; what is it that people don’t like about this song? Do they think it isn’t funny? Do they think it fails as a source of humor? Is it that the purposefully insipid lyrics simply fail to be humorous in their ridiculousness? Or is it that they think it’s a failure as a song? Do they feel that the singing and the music aren’t good enough to justify the song even as a joke? Hell, maybe it’s both.

The song begins a cappella, with the singer (Fred?) proclaiming that he’s too sexy for his love and that love is going to leave him. It should be noted, however, that the singer doesn’t really sing in this song. Why, at times he doesn’t even talk sing. He just talks. It’s almost spoken word in a way. He certainly has a distinct voice, though I am ambivalent on its quality, but at least he manages to talk/sing/talk-sing to the beat of the song. Additionally, the ridiculousness of the lyrics are apparent right off the bat when the singer proclaims he’s not just too sexy for his love (as in his current significant other) but for the concept of love altogether. Then, the music kicks in with a solid drum machine beat and then some mediocre, benign music that neither impresses nor irritates. It fits in with the vibe of the song, and also the video, I suppose, because it wouldn’t seem out of place at a fashion show.

The song is mostly a series of declarations of what the singer is too sexy for, with, you know, rhymes and stuff. Right Said Fred wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. They were just looking to make a satirical yet catchy song and they felt no need to try and be clever apparently. The event begins with the most famous line from the song, “I’m too sexy for this shirt/Too sexy for this shirt/So sexy it hurts.” My first question would be is he too sexy for just this particular shirt or all shirts in general? What level does a shirt have to be at for him not to be too sexy for it? Also, the fact that he is so sexy it hurts really paints this guy as a tragic figure. His sexiness is killing him inside! Or, he’s a jackass. I do believe the latter was the tone they were going for.

We are then told he’s too sexy for Milan, New York, and Japan. Milan and New York are obvious references due to their fashion communities, but Japan is just there for the rhyme. To key the listener into the tone of the song and what they are going for, this line was important. It gets the whole vapid, vain model thing introduced to the song. There’s then a decent horn interlude before he proclaims he’s “Too sexy for your party” and that there’s no way he’s disco dancing. He really cuts deep by telling the listener that he’s too sexy for their party, though as a man who never throws parties I’m not too hurt. Also, if I did throw parties I wouldn’t be too keen on strange, likely shirtless, men showing up. Although, he also seems to imply there is going to be disco dancing at the party of whomever they are talking to. I mean, for starters how many parties involve disco dancing? Secondly, nobody said you had to dance, Fred. Also, I’ve decided the singer is Fred. I don’t care if I’m right.

We then get the closest thing to a chorus this song has, as the singer actually does a bit of singing, though it is more talk-singing that anything, and he says, “I’m a model, you know what I mean?/And I do my little turn on the catwalk/On the catwalk, on the catwalk/Yeah I do my little turn on the catwalk.” So, the character that the singer has taken on is a model apparently. So this song isn’t just a jibe at vain douchebags, but vain models in particular. You’d think this song would really resonate with people then. Models are the kind of people that a lot of folks like to get catty about. There have been a plethora of cheap jokes poking fun at people that were less clever than this song (and this song isn’t exactly brilliant satire) that succeeded. Late night television monologues thrive on it.

After another drum and horn break (and it should be noted that throughout the song there’s a voice in the background making a sound not dissimilar from something like “Hup!” Perhaps he’s a Holland soccer fan) the singer informs us that he’s too sexy for his car. Not only that, he’s too sexy by far. So why did he have this car in the first place? Was he at one point not too sexy for it? Has he undergone a sexy-ification? Or has his car, through the normal wear and tear that an auto endures, just lost its ability to keep up with Fred’s sexiness? Also, he’s too sexy for his hat, and he wants to know “What do you think about that?” When he says he’s too sexy for his hat, it’s the first moment in the song where I actually laugh, and it is much more of a mild chuckle to be fair. That’s just such an absurd thing to say. Somehow, it seems ever more absurd than being too sexy for his shirt, perhaps because a hat just seems so much more mundane, and perhaps also because it is merely an accessory. As for what I think about that, I do believe I’ve already stated my case. I think it is a very silly thing to say, but since that was presumably the point, that’s a mission accomplished.

Fred then regales us with a reminder that he’s a model, but this time instead of doing his little turn on the catwalk he’s “shaking his little toosh” on that catwalk. That’s… an odd thing to say. I mean, I have no problem with him saying it really. I don’t know if there is a less crass way to express that, and that certainly has its merit. Of course, it also sounds strange coming from a facsimile vain model, but whatever. Also, I just think that word sounds weird, but certainly I can’t consider that a knock on this song and be able to justify it in the least.

There’s a music break, followed by the singer proclaiming “I’m too sexy for my…” but not finishing the statement a few times, and then we get the new rendition of the “chorus” again. Well, I suppose since they do sing it three times in the song (albeit one of those times is different than the other two) that does qualify as a chorus. Quotation marks cheerfully withdrawn. Now, back to the declarations of excessive sexiness. You know when I declared “I’m too sexy for my hat” the high point of the absurdity of this song? I hope you do, because it wasn’t that long ago and if you don’t that would reflect serious memory issues that you should seek medical attention for. Anyway, that’s already been usurped because Fred is “too sexy for his cat.” Additionally, for the first time Fred stops to think about the effect his copious amounts of sexiness are having on other people, as he laments, “Poor pussy… poor pussy cat.” Well, that or he’s making a cheap joke. Maybe (probably) it is nothing more than an immature double entendre, the kind that would make a teen ager giggle but has no effect on me. Plus, they do the same joke in Austin Powers, which may have come after this song but which was my first encounter with such a joke. Also, if you’re comedic kin with an Austin Powers movie, you need to reassess your humor.

The singer once again laments that he is took sexy for his love, much as he did in the beginning of the song, though he says it with much more frivolity in his voice, almost a joy. Not that he sounded distraught when he first said it, but he now seems to be reveling in his sexiness. That, and the music has really picked up in tempo and spirit and his vocals are just matching them. He then proclaims that he is “too sexy for this song” and that’s where things end. Literally, the song stops immediately there. No outro, nothing like that. The song just ends. For a song about vapid, self absorbed models it seems like an appropriate kiss off to the listener. It is a bit jarring, but it fits and it’s better than a song going on forever with an outro when you are just waiting for it to end.

As stated in the opening paragraph of this essay, “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred is a joke. However, it isn’t a particularly funny one. It’s not groan inducing, it’s not bad, it just isn’t all that funny. It’s tolerable, and I laugh at some of the absurd things mentioned in the song, things like being too sexy for a hat, but that’s about it. It does sort of succeed at poking fun at its target and it manages to express it without bludgeoning the listener over the head. Musically it’s not spectacular. There’s a couple of good instrumentals based around horns and drums, but for the most part it is rather insignificant, and the singer doesn’t bring much to the table, though perhaps he isn’t supposed to. Maybe he’s copping a disaffected vibe the kind of which he associates with models. That’s possible, and if so kudos to him I suppose. While I didn’t enjoy this song, it wasn’t any worse that mediocre. Certainly not a song I’d consider one of the worst ever. A truly worst ever song should be genuinely unpleasant to listen to. It should be annoying or incredibly stupid or just plain poorly made, with warbling singing and what have you. Maybe some people just really don’t find the song funny. Or maybe some people don’t get the joke and think, “Man, that guy’s a dick. I hate this song.” I just don’t happen to fall into either camp, and if “I’m Too Sexy’s” reputation is being driven by the latter, that really isn’t fair to Right Said Fred. They shouldn’t pay because the joke was lost on some folks.