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“All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You:” Breaking down the ’80s’ silliest song

The popular music of my lifetime is littered with examples of songs that became huge hits despite the fact that they advocated for, romanticized and sometimes even celebrated deviant behavior. When I was a child, I had neither the critical nor social acumen to determine the difference between a benign piece of pop confection and, say, an ode to pedophilia disguised as a love song (I’m looking at you, Kip Winger). Now, though, with the perspective of encroaching middle age, when I hear these songs I often end up feeling displaced in time, divided into two selves — the younger me who loves the songs with the indiscriminate enthusiasm of a child, and the older me who can’t believe the responsible parties weren’t dragged into a Senate hearing along with Twisted Sister and Mötley Crüe.

Of all the potential candidates for dissection, though, for me one song rises again and again above the rest. This one has everything — deception, anonymous sex, questionable judgment, cuckoldry. Every time I hear it I grow a bit more incredulous. It is, quite simply, a catalogue of aberrant behavior that somehow garnered and retains the reputation of a sweet and heartwarming ballad. It is “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You,” by Heart.

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