First, that riff. That’s a great fucking riff.
Second, the subject matter. If you’re of a certain age you can easily remember the Twitter of the pre-Internet era — which is to say basically all of human history — the public bathroom wall. Everything from the phone number of a woman of lesser repute to descriptions of a person’s questionable parental heritage was readily discernible from the graffiti of people who had a point to make, a marker, an urgent excretory situation and an extra minute or two on their hands. All in 140 characters or fewer! On the plus side, at least it wasn’t on display to the entire world. On the minus side, it was on display to everyone in your community. You know, the people who actually mattered. We were closer to Rome then than we are to then now:
Third, it’s got very clever lyrics, an outstanding commitment to proper meter and almost everything actually fucking rhymes. It’s just a really good pop song, one that requires as many extra decibels as its does miles per hour when it comes on the radio. Volume up, foot down and halle-fucking-llujah.
Fourth, everybody heard it. It was a pop song when it was only possible to hear preselected pop songs on the radio unless you bought the record. Infinite choice in music availability has forever dulled our keen interest in unfamiliar music that might challenge our presupposed notions of what good music is.
Finally, it caused so much of a shitstorm that anything that could be a real phone number has been outlawed in music, film and television since since it ruined the lives of countless innocent people whose phones rang off the hook all day, every day until they changed their number or killed themselves.
Very few pop songs are as good to listen to, and none have had the lasting cultural impact.
So cheers to Tommy Tutone for their crafting of a singular moment in time that will literally last forever!