“Babies” by Pulp is a great song. I’ve never got too into Pulp, but I like what I’ve heard lyrically from Jarvis Cocker. He’s an odd man.
Musically, it’s interesting. There’s two guitars. Both have a dreamy sound. One has a country music vibe to it. The combination of the guitar, Cocker’s voice and the keyboards create what I think country music in space would sound like, but only space how it was imagined in the 90s.
“Babies” is a demented song really. I like the narrative element of it. I like songwriting as a mode of storytelling in general, but this is a bizarre case. The speaker, who I imagine to be a shrunken version of Jarvis Cocker, has a female friend. Female Friend has an older sister. Shrunken Jarvis Cocker hears the older sister having sex and kinda gets hooked on that and it escalates to the point where he hides in her wardrobe and watches her. Meanwhile, he’s in love with Female Friend, but doesn’t communicate it to her so she moves on to someone else. And then he’s back in the wardrobe up to his old tricks and tells us, across two of the greatest verses of lyrics of all time:
“Well, I guess it couldn’t last too long
I came home one day
And all her things were gone
I fell asleep inside
I never heard her come
And when I opened up the wardrobe
And I had to get it on, yeah
Oh, we were on the bed when you came home
I heard you stop outside the door
I know you won’t believe it’s true
I only went with her ’cause she looks like you, my god!”
I love the idea that anyone would write this song and record it and the rest of a band would be onboard with it and then a label would get behind it and then it would be on the radio and on TV. There’s the nonchalant perverse voyeurism. There’s the idea that he gets caught being a pervert and things work out for him. There’s the use of the excuse that they look similar so it’s almost a compliment. There’s the idea of telling someone you love them by telling them you want to get them pregnant. It’s deranged. It’s arrogant. It’s ignorant. It’s deluded. But these things make it a wonderful song.
You can listen to “Babies” by Pulp here.