GREAT MOMENTS IN “I WANT YOU BACK” HISTORY

Wanting you back isn’t what it used to be.  What used to be a basic feature of most romantic narratives has become a problematic struggle of wills and personal autonomy.  In light of Feminist hero Robin Thicke’s latest noble stab at the genre, here’s an overview of history’s greatest attempts to GET HER (/HIM, I guess) BACK.

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THE JACKSON FIVE, “I WANT YOU BACK”

I: 11-year-old Michael Jackson.

You: You.

Reason for break-up: Not wanting you around.

Method: Recording one of the most beloved pop singles of all time.

Words: “I want you back!”

Did it work? The break-up never even happened.

Rapey-ness: Statutory.

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THE BEATLES, “SHE LOVES YOU”

Year: 1963.

I: “She.”

You: this kid.

Reason for break-up: You hurt her so.

Method: Innovative second-via-third-person message delivery through John Lennon.

Words: “You know it’s up to you…apologize to her.”

Did it work? Sorry, girl.  You’re barking up the wrong tree. 

Rapey-ness: N/A.

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THE POLICE, “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE”

Year: 1983.

I: Sting.

You: Poor you.

Reason for break-up: You are a strong, autonomous human being with reasonable standards from creepiness.

Method: Threat of constant observation.

Words: “Every [result of action] you [action] . . . I’ll be watching you.”

Did it work? Unfortunately.

Rapey-ness: Terrifying.

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JOHN CUSACK, “SAY ANYTHING. . .”

Year: 1989.

I: John Cusack.

You: Ione Skye.

Reason for break-up: Advancement of ’80s high school movie plot line.

Method: Holding boombox over head underneath bedroom window w/ Peter Gabriel.

Words: Dreamy gaze.

Did it work? Honestly, I haven’t seen this movie.  But I’m going to assume yes.

Rapey-ness: N/A (’80s teen movie).

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WEEZER, “GETCHOO”

I: Rivers.

You: half-Japanese girl who might also be a lesbian.

Reason for break-up: You think that I’m some kind of freak, uh-huh.

Method: Embarrassing self-exposition via lo-fi.

Words: “If you’d come back to me, then you would surely see / that I’m not fooling around.”

Did it work? Definitely not.

Rapey-ness: Self aware.

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MY FRIEND IN HIGH SCHOOL

Year: 2008.

I: My friend in high school.

You: My other friend in high school.

Reason for break-up: Advancement of 2000s high school movie plot line.

Method: Asked her to be his “weekend bitch.”

Words: “Do you want to be my weekend bitch?”

Did it work? Fuck no.  (But actually, kind of.)

Rapey-ness: Problematic word choice.

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CHRIS BROWN, 2010 BET AWARDS

Year: 2010.

I: Chris Brown.

You: America.

Reason for break-up: Chris Brown is a terrible human being.

Method: Emotional breakdown during Michael Jackson/Katrina victims/self-reflection tribute performance of “Man In The Mirror.”

Words: “This . . . wind is blowing my . . . who am I to . . . ”

Did it work? Yes.

Rapey-ness: Chris Brown is SO cute!

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ROBIN THICKE, “GET HER BACK”

Year: 2014.

I: Robin.

You: Estranged ex-wife/high school sweetheart Paula Patton.

Reason for break-up: Robin Thicke has proven to be the MCP I always hoped he wasn’t.

Method: Emotionally confusing video featuring naked women touching chest, bruises, text messages; naming album after you.

Words: “This is only the beginning…”

Did it work: I kind of hope so – he’s clearly very upset, and America needs a successful celebrity marriage that doesn’t involve suppressing video footage of Solange Knowles.  But given the fact that the world already thinks he’s a scumbag, and that pretty much everything he does is putting more and more feet in his mouth – probably not.

Rapey-ness: Still waiting on official assessments from Jezebel and XOJane.

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