“Swear Word Song Hits Number One” ran the BBC News Headline, and as summaries go, it does the job. By 2004 standards, 4 weeks at Number 1 felt endless: no denying “Fuck It” was big. But was it clever? We were only a decade on from Sagat’s coy “Funk Dat” but still you might think – I surely thought – that swearing in pop was so widespread now the gimmick would never work. This was naive: what Eamon lacked in originality he made up in volume. Coy asterisks be damned, “F**k It” came with a literal fuckload of swears, 33 prime and juicy fucks at the top of the charts.

But one of the strangest fucking things about Eamon – whether likeable or sad is up to you – is the way he seemed to be the only person involved who didn’t realise this was a novelty hit. The Eamon version of Eamon was not some dirtbag guy who’d had the solid idea of swearing a lot on a break-up record. No, no, no – Eamon was the pioneer of a new genre, which he called “ho-wop”, as in doo-wop plus hoes.

I’ll admit ignorance of the exact role of the hoes in ho-wop. For them, about them, by them? Maybe it didn’t matter: after all, the relationship to doo-wop is hardly solid. “F**k It” is a whinier, more nasal, more embittered take on the easy flow of R.Kelly-style pop R&B with a big one-off gimmick: you don’t need a new genre to explain it.*

There were immediate antecedents to “F**k It”, though. This is a definitively post-Eminem hit, someone with none of Marshall Mathers’ skill, inventiveness, or genuine spite taking advantage of the space Eminem created for a brattier take on current Black music. Eamon was taking the posture into different emotional territory, too. The nu-metal guys had been belligerent, Eminem goofy or dangerous or both. Eamon, though, was hurt. In interviews, between explaining the principles of ho-wop, he talked about how women were writing to him telling him how “F**k It” had been a source of rage and comfort in their messy break-ups.

Eamon, anagram: an emo – the wounded guy using his vulnerability as a lure and a lash is a 00s pop archetype. The pain in “F**k It” is too much of a pantomime to convince, but those 33 fucks are dazzle camouflage for some genuine sweetness mixed in too – for one thing, “F**k It” has a nice tune. Like “Pure And Simple” or “Whole Again”, it has one of those simple, lilting, mid-paced hooks that feels like it was waiting for someone to discover it. A sweet hook and some naughty words – “F**k It”’s formula so effective it couldn’t be contained in a single track. As the public would immediately prove.

*To this day I’m not sure how serious Eamon was being about all this. That’s probably the point. Was it all a bit? Like many hustles, it exists in the realm of Schrodinger’s bit, where the seriousness is determined after the fact, once everyone knows how successful it was. An interviewer from the Guardian met him; he seemed a nice lad.

Score: 5

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