In 2003 Kelis had a hit single with the song “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”. To be honest, I had to look up who sang it and when, I’ve just heard it on the electric radiogram once or twice.
But I got to wondering this week about how Kelis (whoever she is) came up with the lyrics.
Did she know from the start of the writing process, for example, that it was always going to be a milkshake that was most attractive to the boys, to lure them to her garden.
Milkshake? Why milkshake in particular?
Was there a point in the development of that single that the lyrics went something like:
My yoghurt cream cheese brings a boy to the yard.
Maybe to prepare for the writing of that song Kelis popped her shoes and coat on and travelled down to her local supermarket and made a list of all the diary products that she could possibly include and wrote them in her lyrics ideas notebook.
I imagine that since she’s American it’s unlikely that she walked to the shops, she probably drove to the store in her enormous gas-guzzling SUV or station wagon.
She probably had fun doing that. It’s always fun doing research-related taxonomy exercises. I imagine that her initial list might have looked something like:
- crème fraîche (technically in the cream category but I like writing French characters)
My crème fraîche brings one or two adolescents to the playground.
She might also have listed cheese by brand. Or type. She might also have sub-categorised the cheeses into, for example, soft and hard cheeses. Cottage cheese would have been on the list, for sure.
My curd brings all the boys to the yard.
Perhaps by this point she’d decided that it was definitely boys that she wished to attract and multiple ones at that. And that rather than her garden it was to the yard that she’d lure them. Perhaps the yard has better protection from the sun. Maybe that’s where the barbeque was.
As it turns out that might have been a bit of a waste of time, as we all know she steered away from the whole cheese end of dairy towards fruit syrup infused milk products. However, she may use those ideas in another song. Sometime in the future. Maybe.
Maybe there will be a whole album of dairy-related songs. It might just be an EP.
Maybe every day she’d put out a different diary product in her yard each day and just sit and watch. Like feeding the birds. But blokes. Waiting to see which would attract them.
If it was a warm day then it’s likely that the butter would have melted. That’s not attractive.
Cream goes off too, pretty quickly in the sun. Kelis’s lawyers maybe had a thing to say about their health and safety concerns on this matter.
Perhaps she got lucky. Perhaps the milkshake was made with UHT milk. That stuff keeps for … like ages.
But luck or no, it helped her write a truly classic and deeply meaningful song, that I think has probably touched the lives of millions.
It’s a truly beautiful thing.