Mandy Moore created a bite-sized banger with “In My Pocket.”
Justice For is a new recurring series on BreatheHeavy where we look at songs/videos that should have received more attention/critical acclaim, but didn’t.
The late 90s – early 2000s produced a plethora of guilty pleasure pop gems, and Mandy Moore was responsible for a few of them. Bubble gum bops were at its peak – Britney Spears skirted around a high school in Catholic school girl uniform, Christina Aguilera rocked oversized orange pants and sang about being rubbed the right way and Jessica Simpson confessed she was in love while dancing in a theme park. Then there was Mandy Moore, who drove carefree through her neighborhood in a pale green Volkswagen bug and boy watched. These lovely young ladies exuded innocence with a touch of naughty by nature, but especially Mandy. Perhaps that reserved stance stalled what could have been a gargantuan musical career, but things happen for a reason. Moore has since gone on to act in dozens of films and currently stars in NBC’s wildly popular melodrama, This Is Us. That’s not to say along the way Mandy didn’t release a string of hits, one of which deserved a Grammy, a Moon Man, an Oscar, and then more Grammys in the years to come. Ladies and gents, let’s take another look at Mandy’s carefully crafted pop anthem, “In My Pocket.”
“In My Pocket,” off 2001’s self-titled, is a precious gift wrapped in warm synth paper and decorated with a pulsating golden bow. If it was released in 2019, music critics would either celebrate its uniqueness (because Billie Eilish’s melancholy tone and 808s mashed their brains into digital mush), or they’d discard it into a bin of Aaron Carter and Willa Ford rejects. We can’t know for sure how “In My Pocket,” produced by veteran producer Emilio Estefan Jr, would position itself in today’s volatile and ever-changing musical culture, but we do have a couple of stats from when it first premiered, and by most standards it was less than impressive. “In My Pocket” failed to place in the Billboard Hot 100, but chart success and great music aren’t mutually exclusive. It makes the song an even shinier piece of glam-pop treasure unearthed from the bottom of the sea (probably near where one of Mandy’s characters is devoured by blood-thirsty sharks. Google it). It’s a real shame more people aren’t paying it the respect it deserves.
The lyrics are worth dissecting, cause they’re gloriously brilliant… poetic even. The listener is so distracted with the shimmering production gymnastics and Mandy’s angelic tone that it’s easy to miss how epic the words are.
“Among the many muted faces You try to find me in the spaces You’re drawn to my song You only move to keep from sinking You close your eyes as if your thinking Afraid all along”
Mind. MF. Blown. But the chorus is even campier.
“Nothing but pennies in my pocket Nothing but faith to keep me warm But, baby, then I’d be broke without it Tell me, how much for your love?”
The vibrant video is an entirely different beast. Mandy provides no shortage of sultry stares made famous along with her fellow pop icons. You know what I’m talking about… the soft glance downward, then up directly into the camera lens as if they’re screaming YEAH BITCH, I KNOW. In the Matthew Rolston-directed clip, Mandy struts around a Middle-Eastern-style party inside a Miami nightclub (because, duh), and it’s absolutely iconic. Her hairstyle was the blueprint for Beyonce in “Single Ladies,” and the vibe was reinterpreted in Christina Milian’s “Dip It Low’ video years later. I also love that she flipped the script – instead of Mandy executing some cookie cutter choreography during the song’s breakdown, she sits at a throne and watches a team of shirtless male backup dancers do the heavy lifting. The singer had influence in pop music whether we knew it or not. This was her moment to shift towards a more mature Mandy Moore, and she did it like a boss.
If you miss Mandy’s music, don’t stress. She’s hard at work on new music. Though it’s unclear when Mandy’s new tunes arrive, we know she’s capable of creating bangers, and that’s promising because… 2019 is in dire need of an “In My Pocket.”