I recently heard "Don't Be Cruel" by Bobby Brown on I guess what would be called the Oldies station now. Anyway, it got me thinking – what is Bobby Brown’s obsession with his own name? For those of you who don’t know who Bobby Brown is … I envy you. God, how I envy you. Anyway, he was the old New Edition kid who went on to have a string of crappy pop tunes in the late ‘80s. And in almost every one of these crappy pop tunes he mentions his name. I mean, this guy REALLY wants to make sure you know what it is. It’s Bobby. Brown.
It starts off kind of subtle really. In the song (can we really call it that?) cleverly entitled Humpin’ Around, he lets us know “My name is Brown, that’s what I’m called.” OK. Got it. No big deal really. I mean, I already knew his name was Brown but little reminders never hurt anyone. (If you actually have been hurt by a little reminder I apologize for misspeaking.)
Then we move to the more popular Don’t be Cruel where he states “… to be with me, Bobby B.” OK, so he’s using the first letter of his last name to represent his last name (which if you missed it before is Brown.) I won’t fault him that. He also tells the girl to whom he’s singing “Now you know my name …” Now, if she didn’t know his name before, that means she never really knew him, and that means he’s acting like a psycho-stalker and she has every right to be cruel.
OK, you’re thinking, “yeah, he’s a little weird about his name, so what?” Well that brings us to the song Every Little Step. Forget the fact that he dresses like Olivia Newton-John in the video and basically does the Electric Slide the entire time. Instead let’s focus on the “rap” section of the song (and I apologize to 50 Cent for using the word “rap” to describe what Mr. Brown does here.) Right away he gives us an order. He tells us “When I’m on the mic, don’t you dare call me Freddy.” Now, I wasn’t going to call him Freddy, were you? Was anybody? Does he have some nemesis who knows that his weakness, his Kryptonite, is being called Freddy while he’s on the mic? We don’t have time in the song to ponder this too much because he then goes right into “My name is Brown.” So we’re forgetting the first name here and going for the tougher sounding moniker of the last name (like “MacGuyver” or “Garfunkel.”) But wait! He then goes immediately to “That’s what they call me.” So … they call you by your name? Good. But wait! In case you’re a little slow, he draws it out for you.
It’s so nice of Bobby to help people who can’t say words learn his last name. Alright, so now I think the boy has a serious issue with people learning his name. But I figure he made his point. Imagine my consternation, then, when he ends the rap with “My name is Bobby, not Uncle Sam.” So, it’s not Uncle Sam? Or Freddy? Can I call you Freddy when you’re not on the mic? So many questions. But I do know this. His name is Bobby. Bobby B. Brown. Brooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnn. And that’s what I’ll call him.
Oh well, I guess the only thing worse than Bobby Brown obsessing over his name is obsessing over Bobby Brown obsessing over his name. But it’s my prerogative. I can do what I want to do. (I need help.)
Watch at your own risk:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0FKzPfsxA4
Jimmy Mak is the head writer for Shadowbox Live, the largest resident theater company in America. He would also prefer not to be called Freddy. Learn more about Shadowbox by clicking here.