By: Matt Clizbe
Taylor Swift continues to show the strength of her “Reputation” as her still very new hit single “Look What You Made Me Do” not only dominates the Billboard charts for the second week in a row, but also cleares a path for her even newer song, “Ready For It” which debut at number 4 this week. This one-two punch of Swift’s chart positioning leads a uniquely diverse top 10, which, in this case, is lead by females for the first time in almost 3 years. Cardi B and Taylor sandwich Luis Fonsi’/Justin Bieber’s “Desposito,” in a top 10 melting pot that includes artists of several, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and genres. As we’ve seen through her previous genre bending efforts Red and 1989, Reputation further establishes that seemingly simple pop songs often come from learned minds, who understand not just one, but several genres at their core. Few exemplify this better than Taylor Swift, a girl from Reading Pennsylvania, who debuted as Nashville’s Country Music darling, before dominating the Swedish driven sounds of mainstream pop, and later, penning an international Electronic Dance hit. However, it was when she interpolated use of 1991’s “I’m Too Sexy” just to seemingly toy with the tabloids, a closer look revealed that she’s in good company with the often overlooked one hit wonders of Right Said Fred. That is why this week’s #TBT for Clizbeats.com is “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred.
When Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” exploded to the top of the music world at the beginning of the month following an MTV VMA debut, an understandably gracious Right Said Fred was included in the news cycle, thanking her for exposing their 90s classic to whole new group of fans 26 years later. The UK duo’s thoughtful and measured expression of appreciation, showed an overall understanding of the music community as a whole, and after we too took a closer look, we were reminded why. As it turns out, Right Said Fred are well studied musicians, whose chops are “too sexy” to be overlooked. Prior to their breakthrough in 1991, Right Said Fred, AKA the Fairbrass brothers had been playing music since the late 1970s in a band called The Actors, touring with British punk bands like Suicide. Joy Division, and The Factory Club. This eventually lead to lesser known work that would later prepare them for their campy time in the spotlight. In his pre- Right Said Fred days, Richard Fairbrass worked as a session bassist for the likes of Boy George, Mick Jaggar, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan. Richard can even be seen in David Bowie’s short film, Jazzin’ for Blue Jean from 1984.
After working in the business for well over a decade, the Fairbrass brothers agreed to form what would become Right Said Fred, originally with drummer Ray Weston, and guitarist Dan Kruse in 1989. Their unique, one time household name, which would make them famous only two years later, was born out of a novelty all it’s own, as it was the name of a one time hit by English character actor Bernard Cribbins in 1962. However, once it became synonymous with the success of the Fairbrass’ brothers, Right Said Fred would become iconically known for “I’m Too Sexy” when it was released by Tug and Charisma Records in July of 1991. Written by the Fairbrass bros, “I’m Too Sexy,” was jokingly born out of when the brothers ran a gym together in London. Richard Fairbrass would be quoted, telling the press “I’m too sexy for my shirt” in front of a mirror as a joke. Perhaps mainstream pop appeal wasn’t even initially planned for because it was initally recorded for the indie rock crowd before rejection forced a reexamination and reprogramming that turned everything around.
According to The Guardian, it came down to the imagination of Richard Fairbrass’s acquaintance DJ TommyD, and the keen ear of “radio plugger” Guy Holmes. The line, “I’m a model, you know what I mean”, caught the ear of Holmes, who then asked for the track to be reworked. TommyD then reimagined the tune with with reprogrammed and added a Jimmi Hendrix guitar riff from “Third Stone From The Sun, “ performed by Rob Manzoli.
Those changes proved to be the missing ingredient to RIght Said Fred’s success. Following the changes, “I’m Too Sexy” hit the runner up position with the British Chart Company, and number 1 in the US and 5 other companies across the world. It was also certified platinum in the United States, and Gold In the UK. Since then the track has been solidified into the iconic status we know it to have today. In addition to Swift’s adaption, it hit a resurgence on the UK, peaking for a second time at number 56 with the British Chart Company, and is considered to be the 56th most popular song of the 90s. Therefore, in honor of Right Said’ Fred’s pop culture resiliance, thanks in part to some help from Taylor Swift’s new hit “Look What You Made Me Do,” check out this week’s #TBT, “I’m Too Sexy.” Enjoy!
Right Said Fred
“I’m Too Sexy”
“Right Said Fred” (1962)
Nole Gay Music LTD