Track By Track: Samantha Fox: Self-Titled
Last year, I did a Track-By-Track look at Samantha Fox's debut album, Touch Me, to mark its' 35th anniversary. This year also marks a 35th anniversary for a Samantha Fox album...To be specific, her self-titled second album. Samantha Fox marks Samantha's first collaborations with both Full Force and Stock/Aitken/Waterman, collaborations that are sterling examples of 80s pop music. I'll be discussing all those tracks and more today, so join me as we go Track-By-Track with Samantha Fox's Samantha Fox.
The album starts off with an atmospheric dance-rock song called I Surrender (To The Spirit Of The Night). The track posits Samantha as someone viewing the city as both something to enjoy and something to fear. While the video was filmed in England, the lyrics could apply to any of a dozen cities throughout the world. On the one hand, there's the throbbing rhythm of music and the company of good friends. On the other hand, there's danger in temptations of all kinds, from substances to attractive strangers.
What I get from I Surrender is a sense of ambivalence about what the night can hold. A lot of 80s music has a reputation for being about partying and having fun, but if you read between the lines, you'll notice that there are a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to that subject. Bear in mind that, although we're all here because we love the pop culture of the 80s, there was a lot to be scared of in the decade. From AIDS to the fear of nuclear war, worry was always in the back of everybody's mind back then. The reason why the "Spirit Of The Night" is so tempting, yet so worrisome, is because of that fear. Were you going to have a blast, or would you end up getting blasted?
On a lighter note, we come to the album's second track, I Promise You (Get Ready).
This song is about Samantha Fox promising her lover a grand adventure. What that adventure might be is left ambiguous, but when you're with somebody you love, or even just somebody you like, anything can be an adventure. We all need companionship of some kind, and if we're lucky, we get it in one form or another. I'm lucky to have a wide circle of friends I can talk to, and if they're able to spare some time, we can have fun going out to lunch or seeing a movie. It may not be a trip around the world, but it's still time spent with someone who cares for you.
Staying with I Promise You (Get Ready), although Samantha Fox was out of the closet by the time I interviewed her for RetroJunk in 2012, I never thought to ask if she changes the pronouns of her 80s and 90s material when she performs in concert more recently. Some talents don't change pronouns, while others do. If I ever have the chance to interview Samantha again, I wonder if she would be okay with answering that question? I recently learned the hard way that there are some things a talent may not want to discuss, but that's a topic for another day.
Let's return to Samantha Fox's self-titled album, more specifically its' third track, Naughty Girls, also known as Naughty Girls Need Love Too.
As mentioned before, this was Samantha Fox's first collaboration with Full Force, the production team and music group well known for their collaborations with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, among others. Samantha Fox and Full Force may seem like an unlikely duo, but they worked together very well, and this track is rather witty. It can be seen as a bit of a deconstruction of Samantha's public persona at the time, or it can be viewed as playing into it directly. There's always a lot of fun one can have in interpreting a song, and there's lots to interpret here.
Naughty Girls also holds a place of shame in my own writing history. More accurately, a parody I wrote of it in my late teens for a humor website I was writing for at the time is what holds the place of shame. I rewrote it as a song about catching a sniper who was in the public eye in 2002. I can't recall the exact sniper, but as with all my material for this humor website, it wasn't funny at all. It was the product of a mind that needed help, but wouldn't get it for almost a decade. Remember: If your older writing doesn't make you cringe, it means you haven't gotten any better.
Jumping genres, we now come to Samantha Fox's fourth track, True Devotion.
This song marks a big shift in the album's sound. It's synth-pop, yes, but it's a ballad as opposed to a dance song. In this song, Samantha reflects on the end of a relationship, as well as how she still loves the person she's singing to, her True Devotion. This is another song that could be seen as a deconstruction of Samantha's public persona in the 80s. She may have sang about being a naughty girl who wanted to be touched, but there was more to her than that, and she sought love as most everybody else does.
Samantha was eventually able to find that kind of love with her late manager, Myra Stratton, and a few years after Myra passed away, Samantha entered a new relationship, this time with Linda Olsen. I'm glad Samantha has been able to find love like that. Her life wasn't an easy one, and as with all people, it took her a long time to become comfortable in her own skin. I can relate to that. After all, for years I thought I had to be in a relationship with somebody to be seen as normal, but really, what is normal? I have enough self-confidence and self-love now that I don't need a relationship. We all arrive at ourselves in different ways, and it's wonderful when we finally do so.
A side note about True Devotion: I mentioned this song as one of my 25 Favorite 80s Ballads when I reached my 25th article for my previous writing base, RetroJunk, back in 2008. Back then, I wrote that I thought it was a song about slowing down to spend time with a lover. It would take me several years to really listen to the lyrics of True Devotion as opposed to the sound, a rather unusual twist as I've always paid attention to the lyrics of the songs I listen to. Even the most attentive ears can fail on occasion.
Moving along, we come to Samantha Fox's fifth track, her cover of The Rolling Stones' (I Can't Get No Satisfaction). The classic ode to youth frustration has been done in many different ways over the years, and I liked the instrumentation on Samantha's version. I liked the brass work and the slinky synths, and Samantha's vocals really express how many young people can be annoyed with their circumstances.
As (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction was not originally performed by Samantha Fox, there's not much else to say, so we'll go to the album's sixth track, the delightfully energetic Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now.
Written by the famed British songwriting trio Stock/Aitken/Waterman, this is a song about ending a bad relationship and going off on exciting new adventures. When I first heard this song, I was in a toxic relationship with my mother, a relationship where, as I've said in several of my previous articles, we loved each other as family members, but we didn't like each other as people. As long as we were around each other, neither one of us had the freedom we wanted. She wanted a child she didn't have to worry about anything happening to them as an adult, while I wanted a mother who understood why I had the difficulties and sadnesses I did.
My mom passed away in 2010, and that passing was the best thing that could've happened for our relationship. Revisiting Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now for this article, I listened to the lyrics and thought of how much they apply to my own life. While I am straitjacketed by Social Security Disability, I also have a lot more freedom now. I can do pretty much anything I want as long as it's legal, and I've really had a blast since my mom passed away. Between her passing and the help of my psychologist, I'm now living the life I'd always wanted to live.
I also loved the music video for this song. It's Samantha Fox traveling through Spain in all sorts of ways and having a lot of fun. Whether it's by car, air or boat, Samantha looks like she's having a lot of fun in this video. Traveling can be a great way to get your mind off your problems, and traveling when you're getting therapy is better because although you may still have problems when your trip is over, at least you're in the hands of people who are looking out for your mental health and giving you the tools you need to survive.
Samantha Fox's seventh track is If Music Be The Food Of Love, and this one is interesting.
This song features many shout-outs to Shakespeare, but having read TV Tropes' page Beam Me Up, Scotty, a page all about sayings that either were never actually said or are incomplete thoughts, this tune can seem like it doesn't understand the words. For example, in its' original context, this song's title is the beginning of a sentence about how romance can be a sickening thing. That's not exactly a positive thing. The mention of the line "To be, or not to be" utilizes the beginning of a soliloquy about contemplating suicide as a way of saying that trivial stuff doesn't matter when you're in love.
Although this song is a very danceable tune, in some ways, this is like an 80s version of Alanis Morrisette's 1995 puzzler Ironic. I've lived all my life with an autism spectrum disorder, and one of the aspects of that disorder is having trouble understanding things like irony. That's why I've never been able to get the jokes behind Rickrolling or Chuck Norris Facts. What's Alanis' reason for not understanding irony? Words can be a very interesting thing, and to my autistic mind, the dictionary definitions are what the words mean. Both If Music Be The Food Of Love and Ironic don't seem to understand their own lyrics, but of the two, I would listen to If Music Be The Food Of Love every day and twice on Sundays. I like songs you can dance to, and Samantha Fox knows how to sing them.
We now come to Samantha Fox's eighth track, That Sensation.
The song is another love song about how lovers can give each other certain feelings if their relationship is a good one. There were a lot of songs like that in the 80s, not just by Samantha Fox, but by hundreds of other artists as well. Sometimes the songs are simple, and sometimes they're complex, but I would have to say that love in its' many forms is the topic that is most often written about in music.
John Lennon derided and Paul McCartney celebrated silly love songs, but I side with McCartney on this one. That Sensation may sound silly, but when one is in a healthy and loving relationship of any kind, that silliness can be a wonderful and warming feeling. Again, the relationship doesn't have to a romantic one. It can be a platonic relationship or a deep friendship, but as long as you have people who care for you, it's easy to feel positive sensations in those relationships.
Moving to heavier matters, we come to Samantha Fox's ninth track, Dream City.
Don't let the title fool you. This is a pop song, but not an upbeat one. It's all about poor and struggling people who have dreams that they fear may never come true. We've all had those sorts of dreams. We've dreamed of achieving success in business and making lots of money, but have found ourselves working retail and struggling from paycheck to paycheck. We've dreamed of show business glory, but have only gotten so far as school plays and half-attended karaoke evenings at a local bar. We've all had dreams crushed, but the people in this song are willing to do dangerous things to make sure those dreams come true.
In some ways, Dream City reminds me of the song Midnight from the 3/4ths of The Monkees' reunion album Pool It. Midnight is about someone who strives to achieve a dream for him and his girlfriend, and then does illegal things to try and make those dreams come true. He ends up dying for his troubles in Midnight, whereas with Dream City, we don't go into detail about the crime, just the temptation to commit it.
In certain ways, Dream City also reminds me of Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer, a song about struggling dreamers who, in spite of their problems, stay on the straight-and-narrow. The difference is that Bon Jovi revisited the dreamers in 2001's It's My Life to reveal they're still striving for their dreams. Samantha Fox, and the people who wrote Dream City for her, never revisited the dreamers in their song. One could write a story based on that.
Samantha Fox's self-titled second album wraps up with the 10th track, The Best Is Yet To Come.
The song bears some thematic similarities to the Frank Sinatra song of the same name, but this is a ballad as opposed to a jazzy swinger. The point is still there, though, that as good as a relationship can be, things can get even better. That's not saying that things aren't good right now. It's saying that if you think things are great now, they're only going to get better from here.
While I myself have only been in one romantic relationship in my entire life, I do know the feeling of how relationships can start out great, and then get even better. I know that feeling because of the many friendships I've developed as an adult. These friendships have led my family of choice to grow exponentially. People who understand my love of 80s pop culture have connected me to other 80s fans, while 80s talents I've interviewed have not only become friends, but in many cases, connected me to other talents who have become friends as well. That's why I'm sure that, as good as things are for me now, they're going to get even better when I enter my 40s in December of this year. Here's to it.
That's Samantha Fox's Samantha Fox. I found the album to be another wonderful collection of 80s pop songs that delved into several different genres. Samantha Fox is a wonderful talent who deserves a lot of credit for what she's accomplished. I liked pretty much all the track equally, but if I had to pick a favorite, I would go with Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now. The energy and excitement of that song inspires me to this day.
With all that in mind, what are your thoughts on Samantha Fox's self-titled album? What are your favorite tracks? Do you have any memories associated with this album and its' songs? Feel free to leave a comment below. I'll see you all again soon.