Freak Like Me

Album: Do You Wanna Ride? (1995)
Charted: 33 2

Songfacts®:

  • "Freak Like Me" is an R&B hit by the Michigan singer Adina Howard from her debut album Do You Wanna Ride?. It is her highest-charting success; she made the US Billboard Hot 100 just one other time - with a 1996 cover of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" which made it to #32.
  • Modern audiences might look at this and think "great, another 'get-your-freaky-on' copycat!" No, actually, this was 1995, and Adina Howard is credited with starting the whole "freaky" genre, with female R&B vocalists singing overtly sexual lyrics. Amongst others, she paved the way for artists such as Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown. Howard drew fire from feminists in her day for this album, including the cover art which features her can in a shiny-tight pair of shorts. And, oh, yeah, a car.

    If you think this song is pretty blunt, you should see the rest of the album, which includes songs such as "You Got Me Humpin'" and "Horny For Your Love." But need we remind everyone, this is actually kind of empowering and equalizing when you come to think of it; how long have men been singing blatantly sexual lyrics without raising an eyebrow?
  • Using a G-Funk sound popularized by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, Howard digs into some of their influences here, reviving George Clinton's refrain "It's all about the dog in me." She also samples "I'd Rather Be With You" by Bootsy's Rubber Band, which was written by Clinton and Bootsy Collins.
  • British group Sugababes covered this in 2001, which got to #1 on the UK Singles chart. The real story here, though, is the Sophie Muller-directed video, which takes a radically different interpretation of the song to imply that the "freaky secret" is that the girls are all vampires who prey on young men. Oh, yeah, and the total-non-sequitur electronic sound effects at the beginning of the video? That's the "coin-in" sound from the classic arcade game Frogger.
  • This also samples the hook/riff from Kool & the Gang's 1974 instrumental hit "Summer Madness."
  • Rick James popularized the concept of a girl willing to push the boundaries in the bedroom in his 1981 song "Super Freak," but it took another 12 years for another freaky hit to appear, as Silk topped the US charts with "Freak Me" in 1993. This ushered in a new wave of freakiness, but it was almost always a male artist looking to get freaky. Adina's song brought a female perspective to the genre, paving the way for Missy Elliott to get her freak on.
  • Howard revisited this theme with her song "(Freak) And U Know It," which made #70 US in 1997. She wasn't done: In 2004 she hit #69 with "Freaks," a collaboration with Play-N-Skillz and Krayzie Bone.
  • Howard is out cruising the town with her friends in the Hype Williams-directed music video. That same year, Williams helmed clips for Brandy, The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, and Naughty By Nature.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

David Gray

David GraySongwriter Interviews

David Gray explains the significance of the word "Babylon," and talks about how songs are a form of active imagination, with lyrics that reveal what's inside us.

History Of Rock

History Of RockSong Writing

An interview with Dr. John Covach, music professor at the University of Rochester whose free online courses have become wildly popular.

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The Devil

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?

Howard Jones

Howard JonesSongwriter Interviews

Howard explains his positive songwriting method and how uplifting songs can carry a deeper message.

Amy Lee of Evanescence

Amy Lee of EvanescenceSongwriter Interviews

The Evanescence frontwoman on the songs that have shifted meaning and her foray into kids' music.