Top 40 single reviews
Published on September 14, 2006 By Dusk411 In Music

When I Grow Up
Album: Version 2.0
Year: 1999

Shirley Manson prolongs her adolescence well into adulthood in the imprudent “When I Grow Up.”

Ominous synths open the single, leading to spinning beats, setting a turbulent tone. In the first verse, she dares people to make her stop voicing her mind. People regard her as a troublemaker, which only encourages her to dismiss authority. She likes to shock people with her excessive drinking and unusual sexual pleasures. She says to her newest friend that they could steal a helicopter after they’ve gotten bored with each other. She’ll make jokes and compliment him, then will make sure he gets blame for the theft.

“Cut my tongue out/I've been caught out/Like a giant juggernaut/Happy hours/Golden showers/On a cruise to freak you out/We could fly a helicopter/Nothing left to talk about/
Entertain you/ Celebrate you/I'll be back to frame you.”

In the chorus, she says once she reaches the time she needs to be responsible, she’ll settle down. Then, she will be the one in power and will buck the bureaucracy.

“When I grow up/I'll be stable/When I grow up/I'll turn the tables.”

In the second verse, she says she struggles to find common interests with people her age. Instead, she chooses to drop acid and have casual sex with people half her age. She ends up getting pregnant, but really doesn’t care.

“Trying hard to fit among you/Floating out to wonderland/Unprotected/God I'm pregnant/Damn the consequences.”

The chorus is sung again.

The spinning beats return briefly and then it gets quiet, with the exception of a charging guitar. In the bridge, she says her hands are scarred from her anxiety. Once she’s alone, she can’t stop scratching her arms. She will scream and yell at the top of her lungs at people for no reason. She has to keep herself in check. She has to steady herself.

“Blood and blisters/On my fingers/Chaos rules when we're apart/Watch my temper/I go mental/I'll try to be gentle.”

The chorus is sung again.

In the second chorus, she says she has to apologize to him for calling up his ex-girlfriend and spreading rumors. It’s something she has to forget and move on from.

“Don't take offense/Better make amends/Rip it all to shreds and let it go/I rip it all to shreds and let it go/I rip it all to shreds and let it go/I rip it all to shreds and let it go.”


Manson prefers to be a teenager for as long as she can. It means she can pretend to be invicible. She will also be accepted for her reckless behavior than snubbed by it. People her age don’t understand her. She can’t be alone, however, and must have her mind occupied at all times. She’s liable to turn on someone without much a thought and then regret it for a few minutes.

Manson’s cute, sunny vocals are a put-on. She’s clearly not all right being told she is immature. She’s bought into the label people have given her. However, she’s not believable as a devil-may-care free spirit, either. She cares too much what people think of her.

The larkish arrangement flails and fizzes, undercutting her sharp vocals. It also won’t settle on either an ironic or serious direction.

The overcarbonated “When I Grow Up” loads up on the sugar, leaving out any substance it could’ve had.


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