"Yes, it's a problem"
September 7, 2006 7:14 PM   Subscribe

What's going on in The English Beat's song "Monkey Murders" (From Wha'ppen, 1981)?

Here are the lyrics. I get the gist--there's an abusive relationship going on. But what is the title referring to? A historical event? A piece of slang? Please hope me.
posted by bardic to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just emailed the webmaster of the Beat's site to ask, 'cos much as I love & remember the boys, I just have no idea.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:38 PM on September 7, 2006

Maybe they were fans of the Hildegarde Withers series.
posted by tellurian at 9:47 PM on September 7, 2006


That's what it is. Spanking the monkey, you know, with gusto. The chorus and the last verse are pretty clearly about sexual frustration, and the paradox of showing too much vulnerability leading to rejection.

The first and second verse, I am not so sure. I am thinking that this wary mating dance is happening in a shallow, surface oriented environment -- pop music perhaps? -- so the ambition, and constant hope of overnight success, and the dog-eat-dog of it all contributes to this inability of men and women to interact honestly. The betrayal of emotion gets you scorned, and makes you harder, until you cannot connect with other people -- yes, it's a problem.

So... you go home and take it all out on the monkey.

What an excellent record this is. Wha'ppen has to be one of the most tragically underrated classics of all time. I've been listening to it since 1982 (Jr High!) and still want to hear it now and then. I Just Can't Stop It -- maybe once in 2-3 years, Special Beat Service -- never.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:14 AM on September 8, 2006

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