Song of the Day: “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

There was never a time as good as the ‘80s for huge, singalong refrains. These seven radio staples have all the nutritional value of Cheez-Whiz and all the grace of a two-by-four to the face, and all of them are incredible. This week, I present Epic Anthem Choruses of the ‘80s.

I think what I admire most about this song is that its chorus is so tremendous that you are completely distracted from how insane (and inane) the lyrics are. If you’ve never read the lyrics straight through… please do yourself a favor.

When I say the lyrics are crazy, I’m not talking about the line used in the title. I’ve read multiple articles and blog posts where people speculate on it. Is it describing a sex act? A metaphor for prostitution? Cocaine? The answer’s a lot less scandalous: “Pour a little sugar on me” is mid-century slang for showing affection. I have an aunt who still says “give me some sugar” when she wants a hug. Listen to much ‘50s and ‘60s music and you’ll hear the phrase all over.

Def Leppard just appropriated it into an innuendo. And it works great. Eminem did something similar in the intro to “Without Me” when he made the benign square-dancing term “go round the outside” sound downright lurid.

No, what really strikes me about these lyrics are gems like these:

  • “Livin’ like a lover with a radar phone” — What’s a radar phone? What does it mean to live as if you have one?
  • “Television lover, baby, go all night” — Is this a reference to the scenario of falling asleep on the couch and leaving the TV on all night? I can’t make sense of it otherwise.
  • Not one, but two uses of the word “saccharine.” Both times, the word is used as a slant rhyme: Once with “cream,” once with “dream.”
  • “Easy operator come a-knockin on my door” — I think this refers to the woman who is the subject of most of the lyrics, but it’s not clear what makes her an “operator.” I checked Urban Dictionary for “operator”, and the first result is: “Slang term for someone who is a member of a Spec Ops team.” Okay then.

Anyways, I got a bit off track. The chorus. It’s huge and sleazy. That guitar riff anchors…

–Wait, hold up, back to the lyrics for a second. I almost forgot my favorite line. Def Leppard displays some truly egregious flouting of basic traffic sense: “Red light, yellow light, green light, go.” Yellow does not come after red, it comes after green! What would be the point of a yellow light right after a red? Have these guys ever driven a car?

Since I’m on the topic of stoplight color confusion, here’s one of my favorite Mitch Hedberg gags:

Click here for the full list

Click here for the full list

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day: “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

  1. Maybe we can work out these mysteries together. Here are my contributions:

    1. I have to imagine a “television lover” is the kind of love-maker you see on television, who can go all night long, unlike real people in the real world, who can only love-make for just so long before pooping out.
    2. Maybe an “easy operator” is related somehow to a “Smooth Operator”? Somebody ask Sade.
    3. When I was in Germany, their traffic signals would go green –> yellow –> red –> red and yellow at the same time for about one second –> green. The “red and yellow” is your opportunity to begin accelerating, eliminating one second of dead time (when nobody is proceeding through the intersection in any direction) every cycle. It’s extra efficiency, if you assume that everyone actually slows down at yellow lights and nobody runs red lights.

  2. Def Leppard is both a band and British, hence the reference to British traffic signals (yellow precedes green there, instead of yellow preceding red). Mystery solved. You are very welcome.

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