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"Girls & Boys" is a song by English band Blur, released in 1994, "Girls & Boys" was an ironic paean to promiscuous, bisexual culture. It entered the United States right as grunge was losing its dominance and more diverse forms of alternative rock were capturing attention. I remember listening to it on repeat on MTV in the summer of 1994. It was part of a genre called Britpop, which seems like an odd name for a genre, since the British had more or less set the standard for popular music for 30 years before Oasis and Blur started twanging on guitars in the mid 1990s.

The song, and accompanying video, take place in the world of a Mediterranean vacation package, (or, translated into US terms: SPRING BREAK), where British teens and early twentysomethings would go for hedonistic, no strings attached sex. This also involved the suspension of traditional gender roles in courtship, where girls were not expected to seek emotional commitment, and boys would be treated like girls---looked at as nothing but sex objects. It is unclear, from the chorus of the song, whether it references bisexuality or just the hazy promiscuity of heterosexual one night stands. The chorus ends with the cloying refrain "It always should be someone you really love".

The song's interest for me is that at the time it was released, recognition of both non-traditional gender roles and non-heterosexual orientations was being accepted into a wider society, and at the very least, both were being accepted by the type of people who were listening to alternative music. This is, in general, a good thing. At the same time that the song might seem to be in the vanguard in this respect, it also mocked, either gently or with hidden vitriol, the same attitudes. As with so many things, the level of irony that you wish to view the song's portrayal of a hedonistic vacation is up to you, the listener.

Damon Albarn is also surprisingly cool for a European person, and this song demonstrates that. Europeans, in general, do not have a concept of cool, in part because (unlike Americans), they do not have a concept of irony. Europeans are usually naively literal about activities, and lack the ironic view that Americans have. Europeans can actually do something "enjoyable", like go to an expensive restaurant, or have casual sex, or wear expensive clothing, and look at doing these things without any hint of incongruity. But Damn Albarn was cool enough to realize the incongruity of enjoyment, at least on a basic level.