2/26/1998: In Which America Collectively Ponders the Smell of Sex

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: I was gone for a while. Maybe some of you noticed, maybe you didn’t, maybe this site’s entire “audience” is made up of Russian spam-bots designed to sow the seeds of discontent by insisting that Trans is the best Neil Young album (It isn’t).

Regardless, here we are, and I want to talk about 1998.

You remember, don’t you? The president at the time was going through impeachment proceedings for reasons that now seem quaint and adorable. Audiences had two computer animated movies about bugs to choose from. Dilbert was fairly popular.

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Also, the number one alternative rock song in the world was “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground. 

Here it is, just in case you somehow avoided all people, places and things during 1998 and have never heard it.

It’s not a bad song by any means. Like all alternative music between 1992-1999, it’s a bit of a Pavement rip-off, but so is Weezer’s entire career so we can probably forgive that.

The song’s content is pretty standard-slacker fare in which a gentleman finds himself in a “too good to be true” sexual situation and assumes that this girl has some sort of ulterior motive (or that he’s flat-out dreaming). In other words, “What is she doing with me, I’m such a loser” etc. Not revolutionary stuff.

I think the real impact of the song is that it, for a brief time, forced the entire country to acknowledge sex as a physical act, something other than an intangible idea. When you say the phrase “It stinks like sex in here,”  you’re calling to mind all the bestial, visceral components of sex that it took to arrive at this distinct smell. It’s an odor that tells so many tales and contains so much emotion–lust, love, compassion and more–and it’s kind of rare for a popular song to paint such an evocative picture about something that everyone, on one level or another, has experienced but nobody ever talks about. At least in semi-polite society. Sex is real, and messy, and it stinks.

So let’s all raise a glass to Marcy Playground, who ruled the airwaves twenty years ago this week, and for a brief moment, got us all in touch with our common humanity.



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