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Adventures in Victorian Literature: Kelly Clarkson Version

You know what I haven’t talked about much lately? Literature, that’s what! I have been remiss. Fortunately for all of us, popular singer and poetsmith Kelly Clarkson, along with chronicler of our times Katy “If I Say Being A Girl Is Lame, Boys (And Self-Loathing Girls) Will Find Me ‘Rebellious'” Perry, have produced an epic for the ages.

The song of which I speak, performed by Ms. Clarkson, is entitled “I Do Not Hook Up.” It is a thoughtful examination of sexual politics, and also why boys won’t like you if you consent to have sex with them without extorting some promise of undying love and/or a wedding ring from them first! Let us perform some literary analysis of this groundbreaking piece.

Oh, sweetheart
Put the bottle down
You’ve got too much talent
I see you through those bloodshot eyes
There’s a cure you’ve found it
Slow motion
Sparks you caught that chill
Now don’t deny it

In the opening tableau, we are confronted with a guy who is drunk all the time, and seems like kind of a loser. Ms. Clarkson disapproves of his wanton self-destruction! Yet he has found the cure to his suffering, she insists. The cure of which she speaks is, of course, becoming her boyfriend. SHE CAN CHANGE HIM. Note to girls: this always works. That’s why you should date every remotely attractive asshole within your reach.

But boys will be boys
Oh, yes they will
They don’t want to define it
Just give up the game and get into me
If you’re looking for thrills
Then get cold feet

Yet the gentleman in question rejects the self-improvement regimen suggested by Ms. Clarkson! He would prefer to make out! How crude! Kelly reflects ruefully that men are tied to their animalistic sex drives; Kelly herself cannot lubricate without the assistance of diamonds, flowers, and a weekend bed-and-breakfast retreat, and hence congratulates herself on this evidence of women’s gentler, more inherently pious nature. Truly, she is the “Angel of the House,” sent to be a civilizing influence upon the male gender.

Oh, no
I do not hook up, up
I go slow
So if you want me
I don’t come cheap
Keep your hand
In my hand
And your heart
On your sleeve

Goodwife Clarkson does not “hook up.” Oh, no! That would be most slatternly behavior. She is not a whore, like other women – who want to have sex, if you can believe such a thing – but consents to the physical act of love only after much hand-holding and romancing, and during the act itself closes her eyes and winces and thinks of the convent in which she was raised. She is not averse to doing her girlfriendly duty, mind you; it is only that she cannot conceive of any woman being loose and bestial enough to take pleasure in the act outside of God’s Holy Compact of going out for maybe a month.

Oh, no
I do not hook up, up
I fall deep
Cause the more that you try
The harder I’ll fight
To say goodnight

Also, the guy might be a raper? But whatever! As previously stated, HE CAN CHANGE. She can MAKE HIM CHANGE.

I can’t cook, no
But I can clean
Up the mess she left
Lay your head down
And feel the beat
As I kiss your forehead

This is not to say that Clarkson embraces antiquated models of gender relations, such as performing unpaid domestic labor! Ah, no: like her pre-eminent colleague, Madame Perry, she is quite rebellious, and even goes so far as to reject the feminine arts of cookery. She does, however, note that she can “clean”… up the dude’s whole messy network of issues, caused probably by his ex-girlfriend! Let us pause to appreciate this clever play on words. Let us also once again note that both men’s betterment, and their downfall, are always the responsibility of women. This is in no way unfair; nor should men be obliged to clean up their literal or figurative messes. A woman’s work is never done!

This may not last but this is now
So love the one you’re with
You wanna chase
But you’re chasing your tail
A quick fix won’t ever get you well

Clarkson notes that “this may not last,” and that one should strive to “love the one you’re with.” It may sound like she is embracing the “hook up” culture here, but take note, dear readers: this is what, in Literature, we call an “unreliable narrator.” Or, “just singing nonsense to fill up the verse.” After this baffling passage, the true meaning of which will be debated by scholars for generations, Clarkson once again castigates her gentleman caller for “chasing (his) tail,” and notes that only the true and embettering love of a virginal woman like herself can “get him well,” for SHE CAN CHANGE HIM. I cannot stress this enough. SHE CAN CHANGE HIM, and MAKE HIM LOVE HER, by WITHHOLDING CONTACT WITH HER VAGINA UNTIL HE FINALLY CAVES AND AGREES TO USE THE WORD “GIRLFRIEND” WHEN REFERRING TO HER. Love: it is a contract negotiation in which your goal is to manipulate the other party into giving you everything you want. No wonder the poets praise its beauty!

Oh, no
I do not hook up, up
I go slow
So if you want me
I don’t come cheap
[bla di bla bla, other girls are whores but I am the Madonna, bla di bla blee bla bloo]

Cause I feel
The distance
Between us
Could be over
With a snap
Of your fingers
Oh, oh no

Ah, and now we come to the moral. For the fair Lady Clarkson may have seemed, to our refined ears, unforgivably bold until this moment: telling a man what to do? Shocking! Yet here, she reaffirms his position as her rightful Lord, Master and Instructor. She may only provide gentle suggestions, and lead by example, as a maiden ought. Yet she awaits his command, for truly, the choice to court a woman or no should always belong to the gentleman.

Oh, no
I do not hook up, up
[bla di bloop bleep blap blorp, I-don’t-want-you-the-way-you-are-I-want-you-the-way-I-want-you-to-be, blurp bum bow kazam]

Oh, sweetheart
Put the bottle down
Cause you don’t wanna
Miss out

Ah, yes: if he could only see, Clarkson protests, the joy of entering into a committed relationship with someone who uses her vagina as a bargaining chip, would like to re-arrange his priorities to suit her own, sees no problem with manipulating her partner, and will always relate to him from a position of caring yet ever-so-slightly-judgey, self-righteous for-your-own-goodism. Truly, how can the pleasures of the flesh compare to this?


  1. antiplath wrote:

    This is pure genius. If I were the editor of a major magazine or even a minor one, I’d give you your own column. Just for this. Farking brilliant.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  2. Erica wrote:

    You are awesome.

    Also, hi, I’m kind of new to your blog. For awhile I just followed links from Shakesville, but after awhile I realized I should just start reading your blog full time. So I have. And it makes me happy.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Permalink