Foreigner – “I Want To Know What Love Is”

Adult Oriented Rock. No part of this phrase is pleasing to me.

Foreigner - I Want To Know What Love Is

Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is

Adult – not childlike; sensible; mature; responsible; old.

Oriented – aligned to a market; tilted, as a man might position a lamp to illuminate a spreadsheet.

Rock – without its complementary, feminising roll, a thrusting, blokeish yang that makes me think of Jeremy Clarkson’s hair. Rock is the kind of music one finds on petrol station CDs entitled ‘100 Drivetime Classix’.

Rock is the Top Gear team driving a new BMW at 180mph up a mountain whilst ‘Layla’ plays in the background.  Rock ‘n’ Roll, conversely, is Thelma and Louise driving a ’66 Thunderbird off a cliff. If you can’t tell the difference, I can’t help you.

Tonight’s 80s45 is one of many, many AOR records that caused me great distress in my youth. Everything about it is displeasing. So bilious is this song that whilst researching this piece I had to watch the video in 30 second bursts, as anything more catalysed such profound nausea I feared I might vomit on my keyboard.

I also read that this song frequently appears on the disturbingly-entitled ‘US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Recurrents’, whatever that might be.

In addition to the song being turgid, dismal, enervating, tedious and devoid of all beauty, there are many things I dislike about the video. A few include:

  • The singer’s hair
  • The singer’s face
  • The singer’s age
  • The singer’s clothes
  • The singer identifying with the hard-working ethnic types in the video
  • The singer ‘getting down’ with the fucking gospel choir
  • The height at which the band wear their instruments
  • The constipated looks of suffering on the faces of the band

Constipation plays a big part in AOR. The pained, slightly grumpy looks on the faces of AOR protagonists might be mitigated if they were to have a nice big shit. Every time I see Peter Cetera’s face, I think he probably needs the toilet.

At school, 93% of people in my year liked this song. No, they LOVED this song. They went on about how wonderful it was, the incredible musicality of the composition, the precision with which the band played their highly-strung instruments, the profound spirituality of the gospel choir. These people were 15 years old. They told me that Foreigner were better than the UK Subs. They told me I was a philistine. They wanted to know what love was. I couldn’t show them. I got very upset. I drank hallucinogenic cider in the park and set fire to things. I wanted to destroy the world.

At this point I should conclude that in later life I have learned tolerance, or that indeed I have reached a sufficient level of maturity that the song now speaks to me, but neither of those statements would be true.

I imagine my former peers from school in their comfortable homes, browsing catalogues of light furnishings, whilst Chicago, Mister Mister, John Parr, Journey, Toto, Cutting Crew and Foreigner play lightly (but not too loudly) in the background.

Meanwhile down in the park a lonely figure in stained pants staggers around in the dark, clutching his bottle of Olde English Cider and howling at the moon.


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2 Responses to Foreigner – “I Want To Know What Love Is”

  1. I also want to know what love is! Does this song provide an answer? Or, do I have to reflect inward?

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