Friday, January 6, 2012

I Touch Myself - Divinyls

(C. Amphlett, M. McEntee, T. Kelly, B. Steinberg) Virgin VOZ 094


Chart Entry: 2nd December, 1990
Highest Position: #1
Accreditation: Platinum
Points: 103,106
From the album "Divinyls".


Not afraid of pushing the sexual boundaries in music, Chrissie Amphlett and co. delivered a unique "self love" song that didn't cover up the content of the lyrics with innuendo and double entendre. "I Touch Myself" was quite simply about doing just that, down there.

The combined forces of the Divinyls' Chrissie Amphlett and Mark McEntee, with the hit songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, eventually brought "I Touch Myself" to the record stores late 1990. The two pairs were used to working in their own small teams, Chrissie and Mark writing all the Divinyls preceding hits, and Tom and Billy providing an array of artists with some of their biggest hits, including Madonna's "Like A Virgin" and Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors". It was quite a crowd, a situation Billy never felt comfortable with, stating he could stretch a songwriting team to three people, but four was a crowd. The exception to Billy's rule proved to be a gamble well taken as "I Touch Myself" gave the Divinyls their one and only #1 hit, and added another to the Kelly/Steinberg tally board.

As obvious as the lyrical content of "I Touch Myself" was, the song was rarely banned from radio. The subject was as plain as you could get, but its lighthearted treatment saw the success of the single continue unimpaired. In addition to its #1 placement on the Australian charts in February 1991, the single popped its head into the UK top ten at #10, and an gained impressive peak of #4 on the US Billboard charts. The Divinyls became one of relatively few Australian acts to make waves in the US as "I Touch Myself" continued its charting might with a #2 peak on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Subject matter aside, "I Touch Myself" proved to be a bit of a challenge for all involved. The songwriting process became a little tricky piecing the verse, chorus and bridge of the song together in an order that worked. In the end, an interesting structure accidentally came together. Without the use of today's digital recording process, "I Touch Myself" was recorded on 2 inch tape, making the song quite hard to edit. The resulting experimental process forced the songs' bridge to enter before the first chorus, something rarely seen in a hit single.

As an Australian single, "I Touch Myself" wasn't exactly breaking new ground for local artists on the global stage, but the long-lasting success of the single has seen it featured in films such as 1992's Prelude To A Kiss and 1997's Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Its simple and obvious composition has also ensured the single joins the A-list of concert sing-a-longs, performed live by Ben Folds, Rolf Harris and P!nk, just to name a few.

Life returned to normal for the Divinyls after their massive success during 1990/91. "I Touch Myself" joined the 1981 #8 hit, "Boys In Town" as the bands only top ten successes in the Australian singles chart. Two further Top 20 hits, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" (1992, #19) and "I'm Jealous" (1995, #14) brought the career of one of Australia's most interesting bands to a close.


Chart Run:
(27 weeks) (ARIA Top 100)

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