"Pour Some Sugar on Me" Is About What Pretty Much Every '80s Rock Song Is About

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jun. 3 2021, Published 1:07 p.m. ET

There's really only one thing that '80s rock bands sang about, and that's sex. Sure there are some exceptions, like, of course, ballads about love. But for the most part, it was all about getting down and dirty.

So it might not be a surprise that "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard is pretty much about what you would expect.

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That's right! "Pour Some Sugar on Me" has to do with sexual gratification.

The song is about urging someone you're fond of to get nasty with you and do what you like. Not to sound like an old fogey, but songs back in the day used to employ the use of metaphors when discussing more intimate predilections.

Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song," which has the line, "Squeeze my lemons, 'til the juice runs down my leg," is a strange analogy for genital pleasure, but, hey, they also slapped groupies with fish. Reportedly, of course.

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What's more interesting than the meaning behind "Pour Some Sugar on Me" is how the song came to be.

Def Leppard wasn't exactly a band that was known to overthink things. Their name is literally just a play on one of their favorite bands, Led Zeppelin.

And while many attribute their success to being "at the right place and the right time" musically, a look into their work ethic and willingness to be honest about the type of tracks they made dispels that notion.

Louder Sound published a frank interview that covers Def Leppard's fourth-studio album, "Hysteria." At the time, it was shaping up to become a costly, nightmarish disaster for the rock-pop group.

It's important to understand the nature of the music business at the time, too. People actually bought physical albums and record labels/companies were making a ton of cash on tours and selling music/merchandise.

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"Hysteria" was on track to become a massive loss for the band. When drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident, he defied the odds and re-learned to play the drums with an electronic kit with his bandmates supporting him along the way.

That was a huge setback for Allen and the rest of Def Leppard, but there were also other problems that plagued the production of the album.

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The 1987 album had tons of aborted recording sessions and a producer who was ultimately fired because it wasn't the right fit. "You really would start to think that we were cursed," the band's lead singer, Joe Elliott, said.

While Joe and their new producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange, were in the recording studio tightening up "Armageddon It," Elliott grabbed an acoustic guitar that was in the control room and started fiddling around with a country style hook he thought up.

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Mutt, who had briefly left the room before Joe started to play, returned to the studio and thought that the hook was brilliant. "That's the best hook I've heard in about five or 10 years," he said. "We should absolutely do this song."

Joe didn't think anything of it, and the band groaned at the idea of adding it to the album because they thought that meant at least another six months of fine-tuning a track.

It didn't, however. "Pour Some Sugar on Me," which singer Joe Elliot says is a "metaphor for whichever sexual preference you care to enjoy," took about 10 days to get perfect.

When "Hysteria" was released, the album's sales initially weren't great enough to cover the massive $5 million bill the studio racked up to get it done. In Europe, the track only hit the number 18 billboard spot and wasn't even released as an opening single; "Animal" was.

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It wasn't until a year after the album had been released that the label — as a last resort to try and break even with studio costs — released "Pour Some Sugar on Me" as a single. MTV's constant replay of the song helped get it to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard chart, and every bar in America blasted the track.

Phil Collen, the band's co-lead guitarist said, "The song became a hit because strippers in Florida started requesting it on the local radio station."

"It had a second lease of life. 'Hysteria' was all over bar the shouting, and then all of a sudden this song just got popular, and then the album went to No. 1. It’s really funny how it suddenly became cool because it was a stripping song."

Thank you, exotic dancers. Def Leppard salutes you.

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