The History of Peaches’ ‘Boys Wanna Be Her,’ Samantha Bee’s Theme Song
Full Frontal, Samantha Bee's satirical news program on TBS, stands out not only because Bee is one of the few women of late-night talk, but also because of its smart, edgy theme song, "Boys Wanna Be Her," by Peaches.
The 2006 song off the feminist album Impeach My Bush (XL Recordings) includes lyrics that demand audiences to "Listen up" and references Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop." As Bee told an audience at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, "I knew which song I wanted from the very beginning."
"[W]e were deliberating a little and everyone was talking about it and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just DM Peaches on Twitter and ask her if we can have her song?’ And so I did. And then she said yes. And then we paid for it.”
Prior to Full Frontal's use of the track, "Boys Wanna Be Her" popped up in episodes of Ugly Betty and The L Word, as well as on the soundtrack for the video game Need for Speed: ProStreet. Peaches (nee Merrill Beth Nisker) said she strived to write a girls anthem, giving birth to the riffy, fist-pumping equalizer of a song.
"I love 'Cherry Bomb' by the Runaways and I love Bikini Kill and I wanted my own but I want it to sound like AC/DC," she told Red Bull Academy in 2011. Additionally, Peaches aimed to even out the patriarchy of electronic music. In the same interview, she decried DJ Magazine's lack of women in its 100 best DJs countdown.
Peaches had long taken a subversive stance on masculinity and femininity. She brandished a beard on the cover of her 2003 album, Fatherf---er, and took on a sexually aggressive persona for songs like 2001's "Set It Off."
"[People] would be like, 'Why do you write these songs? And I'd be like, "I feel like this is a missing link in what we actually need to evolve into,'" she told Pride Source in 2015. "[A]nd also, yeah, questioning what was mainstream and saying, 'I don't want to bow to the mainstream; I want the mainstream to come up to me.' Now, 15 years later, the mainstream actually is coming to me. So I'm like, 'Woooohoooo.'"
With the added exposure from Full Frontal and other pop-culture uses, "Boys Wanna Be Her" has logged more than 1.5 million spins on Spotify, and its glam-rock video has been viewed more than 3 million times. And with the lyrics referencing gay landmark Stonewall and "common stalls," it is a timely track— even more so than it was in relatively conservative 2006.
Between Laura Jane Grace, Caitlin Jenner and Chaz Bono coming out as transgender and the deadliest shooting in American history at an Orlando gay club, "Boys" reverberates.
"[A]nybody who's going by these completely heteronormative patriarchal attitudes - what are you hiding from?" Peaches asked in the Pride Source piece. Regarding her 2015 Polaris-nominated album, Rub, and regarding "Boys," "It's just a celebration. Seriously. I want it to be like a post-gender and post-age celebration of becoming who you are."
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