RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY
Samantha Fox - "I Only Wanna Be With You"
Okay, I'm not even embarrassed by how much I love this one.
Samantha Fox was more of a household name in the UK and Europe, but she managed a few Top 10 hits in the US during the late '80s. She started out as a topless Page 3 girl in 1983 at the age of 16 (okay, that's gross--but the age of consent in England is 16, so 16 in the UK = 18 in the US). At age 20 she "retired" from modeling and released her first record in 1986, Touch Me (I Want Your Body), an experimental, high-concept album that explored existential angst in the Reagan/Thatcher era (just kidding! It was bubblegum pop, of course). The title track shot to #3 in the UK charts and reached #4 in the US, which surprises me to learn--as I don't remember hearing it on the radio all that much--although MTV played the shit out of the video.
|Sam Fox in the "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" video|
I recall liking the song okay, but Sammy herself just didn't resonate with me at the time. Maybe because with her hair, the rhinestones, and all that denim, she looked more like a long-lost slutty Mandrell sister than a hip MTV starlet.
|Who will get this reference? |
Nobody born after 1980, that's for damn sure.
So then Sam came back in 1987 with a self-titled album and a new single, "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)" (the girl liked parenthesis even more than I do). That song hit #3 in the US and the album itself was big in other markets--again, mostly in Europe and the UK, as well as Japan--they love blondes there, apparently. I had a French pen pal around that time and he and I would send each other mix tapes and magazine clippings; I remember he sent me a French fanzine and Samantha Fox was all over it, along with a cute 14-year-old gap-toothed pop singer called Vanessa Paradis, who became famous years later as the longtime paramour of Johnny Depp. Anyhoo, I found Sam's "Naughty Girls" song amusing, but not enough to buy the single or the album. I was happy to see that she'd hired a new stylist and was no longer dressing like a wayward Mandrell sister, though.
|A subtle difference perhaps, but a big improvement.|
Then in 1988, when I was 15 years old and entering my freshman year at boarding school, Samantha Fox came out with her third album. This time, I broke down and bought the thing because of this fucking song. It was a guilty pleasure and I couldn't get enough.
Not gonna lie, I still adore this.
It wasn't an original, of course; Dusty Springfield recorded it first in 1963, then the Bay City Rollers did it in the '70s, along with a ton of other artists over the years (it's one of those old pop songs that tends to get covered a lot). But I have to say, I dig Sam's version the most.
Looking at the video today, I'm struck by how, well, mature she appears. Samantha Fox was only 22 years old here, but in a lot of these shots she looks like someone's 40-year-old mom. She'd be the "cool" mom, though, the one who reads Jackie Collins novels and buys four-packs of Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers for her teen daughter and her friends, "as long as you drink it here at the house, girls. And don't get too tipsy, now--I don't want to get in trouble with your parents! Haha!"
|Come on, I can't be the only one who sees it, right?|
I also liked the title track, "I Wanna Have Some Fun," even though it hasn't aged as well as "IOWBWY". (In fact, it's a bit terrible.) Still, I have vivid memories of getting my groove on to that one at The Victory,* dancing in a circle with my friends, doing the white girl thing: feet planted, lots of hip swaying, elbow and shoulder action, along with the occasional hair toss. It's how we rolled in '88.
Samantha Fox is still a public figure, although she hasn't recorded an album in several years. Nowadays she mostly pops up as a guest host on Loose Women (basically a UK version of The View) and reality shows like Celebrity Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here. Although she was romantically linked to KISS's Paul Stanley (!) in the '80s, since 2003 she has been an out-and-proud lesbian and was in a long-term romantic relationship with her manager, Myra Stratton, who sadly passed away from cancer in 2015. Sam is apparently dating again, however, and has been pictured with new girlfriend Linda Olsen in recent months.
|Yay, I love a happy ending! :-)|
*An under-21 nightclub in Evansville, IN. Do underage nightclubs still exist? I think they must be a relic of the '70s and '80s, since I can't imagine today's helicopter parents allowing their teens to shake their asses to raunchy club tunes til the wee hours of the night in a dark warehouse, with no adult supervision.