LaTour is surprised that People Are Still Having Sex [June 17, 1991]
1991 needs to go to Horny Jail
This week’s Number 15: ‘People Are Still Having Sex’, LaTour
Why are there so many hit songs about sex in 1991?
We've already talked about the current number one, ‘I Want To Sex You Up’. Next week, we might discuss masturbation anthem ‘I Touch Myself’. Later in the year, we’ll definitely talk about Salt N Peppa’s magnificent ‘Let’s Talk Sex’ and the very dumb and fun ‘I’m Too Sexy’.
In 1991, it seemed that you just had to say the S-word and you’d hit the Top 20, minimum.
Chicago-based DJ LaTour found this to be true with his ‘People Are Still Having Sex’, a hooky trance record that’s not all that different from a lot of other white label 12”s sloshing around the club scene of the time. So, why did this one cross over?
When you listen to it, you realise right away that this song is not Color Me Badd. This is not an ode to horniness, unless you get frisky when you hear monotonous intonations of ironic social commentary. LaTour, in his flat voice, says:
Have you noticed, that people are still having sex?
All the denouncement, had absolutely no effect.
Parents and counselors, constantly scorn them.
But people are still having sex and nothing seems to stop them.
The original lyrics make explicit reference to the AIDS crisis, although that got changed in the radio edit. Either way, this song invokes the mood of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, contrasting a world of carnal indulgance with the horror raging outside.
1991 is the year Freddie Mercury dies. It’s also the year Freddie comes out for the first time. Hard to imagine now that there was a time when even someone like Freddie Mercury couldn’t admit his sexuality, but that’s how things were. In Ireland, homosexuality won’t be decriminalised for another two years. The UK in 1988 had passed Section 28, the law that prevents teachers from giving advice on how to avoid HIV, or even telling students that it’s okay to be gay.
In the States, where LaTour is from, AIDS deaths have been steadily climbing year-on-year since the disease first appeared. They’ll keep rising until 1994.
I guess most of us have had something of a glimpse into the AIDS crisis recently. We’re all desperate for affection, for touch, for intimacy. Many of us would like to spend all night in a sweaty club; most of us would like to get laid. And we can’t, because there’s a virus raging outside. But many of us go ahead and do it anyway, because being touch-starved is worse than dying.
Were all of the sex songs a reaction to the AIDS crisis? I was 13 in 1991, so I didn’t really have much insight into the casual hookup scene. But I know that this was a time when society’s feelings about sex were complicated. Perhaps even more complicated than now.
Or maybe it’s just that all pop songs have always been about sex, and this was the year we decided to admit it.
Elsewhere in the Charts
‘I Want To Sex You Up’ continues its reign at the top. There’s no hidden meaning to this song. It is a single entendre.
Jason Donovan crashes into Number 2 with ‘Any Dream Will Do’, from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It is the perfect antidote to all this sex chat. Nobody has ever felt horny while listening to ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
Kenny Thomas is the kind of pop star story that we don’t get often enough. Working class labourer with a great voice gets a record deal, puts out a few albums of blue-eyed soul. He’s at Number 5 with ‘Thinking About Your Love’, his biggest hit. It’s a fine bit of 90s-ness.
Shout out to Kirsty McColl’s ‘Walking Down Madison’ at Number 24, a cracking song that should have charted much higher.
Live on Top of the Pops this week are Rebel M.C. feat. Barrington Levy & Tenor Fly, LaTour, Kenny Thomas, Ms Better Midler herself, and Color Me Badd.