Buckcherry — ‘Lit Up’

This must be the dumbest, stoopidest record ever made. Let me explain to you why I love it.

For one thing, it kicks off with a crunching, blitzkrieg-ing glam guitar sound that doesn’t relent for the entire track. The riff is basically a lift from a Kiss single, but what transforms it — what this band bring to it — is the sheer thuggish attitude. And if that all reminds you of, say, ‘Holidays in the Sun’ by the Sex Pistols, apparently the guitar part here is played by none other than Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols themselves. (Whether Steve Jones actually played on ‘Holidays in the Sun’ is a moot point. In the Never Mind the Bollocks edition of the Classic Albums TV series, Jones suggests that the job was done by Mike Batt, Svengali to the Wombles and Katie Melua. Now there’s real notoriety.)

Then there’s the huge, ginormous, mahoosive chorus. It comes in two parts. First, the soaring chord change into the title lyric, which is hooky enough on its own. But then comes the real earworm. Now, pop lyrics can be notoriously hard to decipher and easily misconstrued, but I have a suspicion they’re singing about — and let’s not be coy here— taking drugs. Admittedly, all I have to base this on is a repeated hook that goes “I LOVE THE COCAINE! I LOVE THE COCAINE!” but I think that’s a valid reading.

You’ll be unstaggered to hear that at the time — 1999 — that chorus was censored by MTV along with a bit of bad language and other druggy references in the bridge. Late-night terrestrial Irish TV was less concerned with my innocence, though — I discovered this song by seeing the uncensored video on a short-lived but excellent music show called Pop on 3, broadcast on the erstwhile TV3 (now Virgin Media TV) and presented by a Darragh Purcell, who had been the students union events officer during my university years. I thank him.

And what of Buckcherry? Well, they ploughed on, released more records and so forth. No doubt somebody somewhere loves them and thinks of ‘Lit Up’ dismissively as ‘the hit’.

I checked out a few concert performances of this track on YouTube to see if their live version carries the same wallop. It doesn’t, and on top of that the lead singer behaves as much the asshole as you’d expect from a cocaine user. So, if 4 Real matters to you and your musical choices, there you go. (In his defence, the live clip I saw was from Woodstock ’99, where being an asshole was pretty much good behaviour.)

Right; time to sample the merchandise. The video keeps all of the drug references but censors the swearing, which is rather quaint. Prepare to lose your brain cells, split your eardrums and perforate your septum.

Writing about music, films and books of note to me. Other stuff (more music, running, Paris) online elsewhere if you Google hard enough. Tweets @aidancurran17