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The greatest incel anthem ever was written and recorded by Chads

In 1967, these men were considered quite dashing

By David Futrelle

“Here Comes My Baby,” is a deceptively cheerful-sounding song of unrequited love, written by Cat Stevens when he was a teenager. And it has the stink of high school heartbreak all over it. It occurs to me that it might be the ultimate incel anthem.

You may be familiar with Cat Stevens’ own version of the song from the soundtrack of Rushmore — a movie also redolent of teen heartbreak. But the first version of the song was recorded and released by a group called The Tremeloes. And it went something like this:

The song hints at the sadness hiding beneath its perky exterior in the very first lines, as a young man, “in the midnight moonlight [walks] a long and lonely mile.” But it’s the chorus that pulls the rug out from under us, sending us spiraling into pure teenage pathos.

Here comes my baby, here she comes now,
And it comes as no surprise to me, with another guy.

WHAT WHAT WHAT!?

Here comes my baby, here she comes now,
Walking with a love, with a love that’s all so fine,
Never could be mine, no matter how I try.

Now we’re firmly entrenched in incel territory; the bitterness is palpable.

You never walk alone, and you’re forever talking on the phone.

Replace “talking” with “texting” — as Stevens, now Yusuf, apparently does in performance these days — and you’ve got one of every internet misogynist’s favorite complaints about women today.

I’ve tried to call you names, but every time it comes out the same.

Take a trip to incels.co for a long list of suggested names to call women.

The original song had something of a hopeful ending — in which the young protagonist tells himself that in some blessed future time “you’ll be mine to hold each day” — but I kind of like the Tremeloes’ version better, in which the third verse is replaced entirely with whistling. Keeps it more pure, I think.

Here’s Stevens’ recording of the song:

You might have noticed something striking in these videos. Despite the incel-ness of the song itself, the singers don’t exactly fit the stereotype of the incel. The Tremeloes were a handsome bunch, at least by the standards of the day, and Stevens was such a beautiful young man he could have been a male model (the highest state of modern man, according to incels).

Basically, they’re all Chads.

Yet there they are singing what seems to be an incel anthem.

And while the tune itself is mighty catchy, the lyrics themselves seem to have connected to more than a few listeners — enough to make the song a Top Ten hit in the UK and Canada, and an almost-Top-Ten-hit in the US, when it was released in 1967. And people are still listening to it today.

Why? Because you don’t have to be an incel to understand this sort of teenage pathos; we’ve all gone through the maddening, saddening experience of unrequited love (and if you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you). The difference is that most of us don’t turn this teenage pathos into a lifestyle; we ultimately gain a little perspective and move on, and it’s that, not “a few millimeters of bone,” that separate incels from non-incels. We can relate to this song (if perhaps not to its more stalker-ish elements); we just don’t want to crawl up inside it and live there.

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Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

A friend pointed something out to me when I once wondered if I had been at risk of becoming an incel: They’ve heard me go on angry rants plenty of times, but every time it was about injustice suffered by other people, not about how hard done by I was because no women wanted to date me. That my anger was inevitably born of compassion for others, not entitlement.

So however despondent and bitter I might have been feeling about my romantic prospects, I would never have signed on with the “my not getting laid is the worst suffering ever” worldview of the incels.

Fabe
Fabe
2 years ago

“treat you better” by Shawn Mendes might also be a good incel theme. it has that whole ‘why are you dating him? I’ll be a much better boyfriend’ thing going.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Fabe
The delivery in that song sounds incel-ish as well, like he’s whining. And the line “any girl like you deserves a gentleman” reminds me of Elliot Rodger’s declaration of himself as the “supreme gentleman.”

Beyond Ocean
Beyond Ocean
2 years ago

@Naglfar

Yeah, and considering the song was released in 2016, I have a hard time not seeing this line like a disgusting dogwhistle. It would be nice to think I’m just being needlessly paranoid.

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
2 years ago

I can’t immediately think of any incelish tunes off the top of my head, but I can think of a couple that are close. The Plain White T’s Hey there, Delilah was written about long distance runner Delilah DiCrescenzo, whom the group’s frontman, Tom Higgenson, met but never dated. You can probably imagine the mixed feelings that act provoked in her, though she seems to have made her peace with the song by now.

Two others would be Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield, and Centerfold by the J. Geils Band. Even then they’re not exactly good incel anthems. Springfield wouldn’t mind having a different girl altogether if he could just have the kind of relationship that Jessie has. In the J. Geils song, the girl seems aware of the singer’s crush and doesn’t discourage it, though it seems they never got together while they were kids.

Though for a decent anti-incel song, I recommend Billy Joel’s Innocent Man, where it’s clear that he really wants to get together with the woman, but also knows that it won’t happen anytime soon due to a bad break-up on her end. He’s not happy, but he’s willing to give her the time needed to heal because he knows her problems aren’t about him.

At least that’s my interpretation; ymmv on that point.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Beyond Oceans

considering the song was released in 2016, I have a hard time not seeing this line like a disgusting dogwhistle.

This is just what I think, but I have a hard time seeing it as a deliberate reference to Elliot Rodger. This was 2 years after the killings and I don’t see any reason he’d bring up a mass murderer in a pop song. The song certainly is problematic, but I don’t think that line is a deliberate reference to Rodger, more just a common Nice Guy™ sentiment.

Web_Flotsam
2 years ago

Somebody brought up Self Esteem by the Offspring, but I wouldn’t say that’s an incel anthem at all, although it does cover some toxic attitudes. It’s about a man who won’t leave his emotionally abusive girlfriend because he doesn’t believe he can do better and so it’s just better to shut up and take it.

If somebody hadn’t already, I’d definitely recommend Shawn Mendez’ Treat You Better, which is at the very least the greatest “nice guy” anthem ever recorded. The only reason I hesitate to say it’s an incel song is he genuinely seems to have some interest in her well-being, even if that interest all boils down to “you should date me cause I’m better and you need better”.

Tim Lieder
2 years ago

Did we already cover “Wide World”? Because that is Cat Stevens at his creepiest and most manipulative. It doesn’t help that it’s a very pretty song and eminently singable. But the whole song is about how his now ex-girlfriend is going to get raped and murdered now that he’s not there to protect her.

Oh we know that he thinks of her as a child.

Metro
Metro
2 years ago

we’ve all gone through the maddening, saddening experience of unrequited love (and if you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you).

At the risk of picking some nits, I…. guess we aroaces just plain don’t exist, then? Okay. Ok. Good to know.

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
2 years ago

Apologies for the necro, but I thought of another artist whose songs, if not incel anthems are at least loaded with extra misogyny – 1960’s era Bob Dylan (don’t know if his later stuff eased up on this). ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ (I think that’s the title) is essentially a schadenfreude song, taking glee that the woman who snubbed the singer for the Chinese diplomat with the Siamese cat was abused and drained by said diplomat, leaving her in a situation where she has to trade sex for a bed to sleep on for the night.

From what I recall, a few other of his 1960’s songs had a similar nasty edge to them. One (whose title I forgot) was essentially him being nasty about a woman’s ‘hypocrisy’ in performing social niceties to him when he just knew she really meant to say was ‘go to hell and rot, you piece of s**t!!!’. And wishing that they could switch places just long enough to show her how just seeing her out and about was enough to ruin the rest of his day.

Hopefully he got some help getting that anger out of himself enough to enjoy life again, because D: if he didn’t.

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