In defense of…”All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You”

This is the post in which I defend what in many people’s minds is indefensible – Heart’s 1990 hit “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You.”

First off, I have to give credit where credit is due.  This post was inspired by a post over at PopDose that singled out “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” as one of the world’s worst songs.  And I can kind of see where they’re coming from.  There aren’t many songs that seem as universally vilified as this one.  Ann and Nancy Wilson mention in the liner notes of their live acoustic album, The Road Home.

Actually, we had sworn off [“All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You”] because it kind of stood for everything we wanted to get away from.  It was a song by Mutt Lange, who we liked, and it was originally written for Don Henley.  But there was a lot of pressure on us to do this song at the time.  As it turned out, it was huge for Heart and so people wanted us to do it for these shows.

So they stripped it down and got rid of the bombastic production.  It kind of works, but for me, I’ll keep my late 80s/early 90s bombast thankyouverymuch.

The biggest complaint about the song is the OHMYGOD IT’S ABOUT A ONE NIGHT STAND.  And it is.  She uses the guy to get pregnant and only sees him again years after the fact.  The reaction seems to imply that this has never happened in the history of rock music ever.  It’s also one of the main points of the argument in the PopDose post – that the early 90s were still the time of the rise of AIDS and that one-night-stands would strike fear in the hearts of men rather than excitement.  The whole thing conveniently overlooks the fact that songs about one-night-stands are not new and there are certainly plenty of songs recorded by men – notably in the country music genre, but in rock and pop as well – but heaven forbid a female perform a song in a similar vein.  It makes me wonder if there would have been similar outrage if Don Henley had recorded it.  Alas, the world will never know.

Here’s the thing about the song – it’s catchy and fit in perfectly with radio at the time.  Now, the remainder of the singles from the album didn’t fare as well at radio, sure, but they didn’t have the promotional push that a first single traditionally got at the time.  I love the smooth opening of the song and Ann wails like a motherfucker on it.  No, it’s not “Straight On” or “Magic Man”, but it’s pretty good Heart by late 80s/early 90s standards so people should just enjoy the song and not get so worked up over the lyrics.

The one thing that does piss me off about the song is the video.  It continued in the tradition of stretching Ann Wilson out with a fancy camera trick because she dared to be a bit Rubenesque in an industry that (even then) wanted its women to have no curves at all.  Even stretched, out, it would be a crime for the camera to stay on her for longer than two and a half seconds.

And getting back to the outrage over the topic of the song, I love how this is the top comment on the video over at YouTube.

I love how all the men are outraged over this woman’s act. Forgetting that he did not have to put his unprotected penis inside her and leave a deposit at bank.

Indeed.

Overall, I really started to tune Heart out around this time.  I loved their Desire Walks On album from 1993 and the previously mentioned The Road Home album sparked a major Heart renaissance 1995ish.  But Ann Wilson’s solo album was awful and their last album didn’t have one decent song.  I know it’s very fashionable to bash Heart’s late 80s output but it’s solid pop-rock music and I, for one, will continue to enjoy it.  And that includes “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You.”

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3 Responses to In defense of…”All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You”

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I remember the skinny camera trick that Heart and other female singers used in some of those 80’s videos. Just made the whole thing look weird. I saw Heart in concert back in the 80s. They were great, but John Cougar (as he was known then) opened for them, and he stole the show. That was just as “Hurt So Good” came out. Really great entertainer.

  2. “We walked in the garden. We planted a tree.” One of the most cringeworthy lyrics in modern music.

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