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The Blazin' Hot Return of Blazin' Squad's "Flip Reverse": A Noisey Roundtable

An analysis of the role this early 00s consensual bumming anthem could have in 2017, thanks to 'Love Island'.

by Emma Garland, Lauren O'Neill, Hannah Ewens, and Joel Golby
03 August 2017, 11:04am

Look, we don't have to justify this. The facts speak for themselves: Blazin' Squad's Spotify streams have gone up 2500 percent since Marcel mentioned he was part of the group maybe once or twice on Love Island – although, admittedly, it's not difficult to improve upon the seven weekly plays of "Crossroads" they were picking up from people who got lost on their way to listen to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Blazin Squad literally performed "Flip Reverse" live on national British television last week; and so, the ten-strong group of boys from Chingford (Chingford!) are, as the infamous hard rock lyric goes, back in town.

"Flip Reverse" may not have been in the charts since 2004, but that's hardly an excuse to swerve commemorating its dramatic re-emergence in popular British culture is it? And so, we will give it the same due treatment we awarded Harry Styles when he launched his solo career and Steps when they revived disco for that one week in March. The highest of orders, the peak of respect – lads, it is time for another Official Noisey roundtable.

Right then, what were your first impressions of this song in 2003?

Lauren: I liked it because even though I was nine years old upon its release I have always been discerning re: knowing an Absolute Fucking Slapper when I hear one.

Hannah: Remember when we used to walk around as kids pretending to scratch records and saying wikka-wikka-wow? I was about 11. Every man in a song seemed to want you to "be [their] lady". Every crew of female backing vocalists went: "Yeaaaa-ah" with bubblegum in their mouth and a sneer in their eyes. "Flip Reverse" did all of those things and so was the anthem to be sung in your form room, Sony Ericsson in one hand, NY cap in the other, buzzing off Starburst at 10AM. I did not care for any other Blazin' Squad songs. This was the one.

Emma: As a self-identified "mosher", I was not allowed to wile out to this song at school as much as I did in private, and therefore "Flip Reverse", for me, triggers a lot of feelings to do with identity and social tension. These are probably compounded by the fact the song is about smashing it from behind, even if it is one of the most sexless songs ever to grace UK TV. Can you imagine trying to shag to "Flip Reverse" upon its release? Fumbling with the corner of a condom packet because you haven't worked out to use your teeth yet. Actually trying to enter someone as a bunch of lads you know to be wearing distressed jeans all shout "GIRRRRRL!" in unison. No. Nobody has done this. This song is not for or about real sex havers. It is 13 year old boys claiming to have fingered someone from France on their family holiday at Pontins. It is girls crimping their hair and taking their first shot at dancing in platform shoes like a camel on a bouncy castle only for some shithead named Gareth to call them "fridge". It is an erection on a bus to a place of historic interest. Still goes hard, though.

Joel: We absolutely could not get our heads around the fact there was a commercial pop song about bumsex. And you've got to bear two contexts in mind, here: i) the lively and liberal attitude towards bum sex that we all now have – everyone loves it, sex in the bum! – was very much in its infancy in 2003 and; ii) the internet also wasn't what it is now, so if there was a commercial pop song about bum sex, you would still have to sap the house's broadband to try and download it over the course of 45 minutes, and there were only obscure Geocities fansites about Blazin' Squad, ie: nobody on the internet was explicitly saying 'hey, this is the bumsex song. It is about bum sex' on Genius.com. So the information " Flip Reverse = the bumming song" was spread via the most old school of methods, which was giddily whispering it to each other in the playground. In many ways, Blazin' Squad singing about bumming really ushered in the end of an era.

And how do you feel about it now, as an adult?

Hannah: This is a song about having anal sex in a truck, isn't it.

Joel: This bumming song really, really bangs.

Hannah: It absolutely slaps.

Lauren: What I really enjoy about "Flip Reverse" in 2017 is that yes, it is about bumming – there is literally no doubt in my mind that what we are dealing with here is 100 percent a song about bumming by some extremely horny young men from Chingford – but, crucially, it is about consensual bumming, and I think that is wonderful. I would like to refer here to the lyrics:

Me and the boys will be blazing it up,
So baby girl now take a ride in the back of the truck,
If you wanna get crunk better know who you are.
Girl, I love the way you work it,
And if you let me, I wanna flip reverse it (C'mon baby work it for me oh)

At not one, but two points during this five-line masterpiece of a pre-chorus and hook, the "baby girl" in question is given a choice. 1) Does she "wanna" get crunk? 2) Will she indeed "let" an unspecified member of the Blazin' Squad "flip reverse" it?

This whole song is basically a very impassioned proposal of bumming, and the person receiving it has every opportunity to turn down that proposal. Thus, it is a Consent Anthem For Our Times that should be played at every Fresher's Week in the country.

Emma: The only issue I can find with "Flip Reverse" as a so-called adult is: how does one dance to it? The composition is a mess. There are like three different beats going on at once and not one of them is associated with a common form of movement. Everyone in the video mostly just enters rooms in slow motion, crouches and gesticulates with their arms like they are giving a very passionate TED talk. The best I can come up with is some sort of twisty arm motion to indicate the "flip" and "reverse" respectively, but other than that I am at a loss.

The outfits. Discuss.

Joel: I do remember that 18-month period where those zip-thru rib-knit cardigans were really cool but I don't know if anyone has worn one in a club situation. I mean you'd be dripping with sweat.

Mate.

Emma: I have a confession to make. Zip-thru rib-knit cardi guy was, prior to Love Island, the only member of Blazin' Squad I could identify out of a line-up on the top of my head and that means either: a) he was dressed so badly that it made an impression on me for life or; b) I wanted to shag him. I have a horrible feeling it may be the latter because he does look a bit like a knock-off version of every millennial fashion industry lesbian I follow on Instagram.

Lauren: Look I know we have already been over the cardigan thing but I really do think it bears repeating: it absolutely spins me out that someone who, at the time of filming, was an actual professional rapper who decided the best thing he could wear for the music video for his song about anal sex was a cream zip-up cardi. Elsewhere, I'd like to highlight that none of the women actually look that embarrassing – potentially because the 90s and early 2000s are "'in" right now.

Hannah: This Krazy character looks at first like a young Rod Stewart, the next moment like Jay Cartwright from The Inbetweeners, then: Super Hans. I do agree with Lauren though that all the women look amazing. Watching this feels like when you see a group of younger teens as an adult and all the girls look very grown-up, with their shit fully together, and the boys look like children with a tub of hair gel.

Several contestants on Love Island – naming no names (SAM) – were not aware of "the" Blazin' Squad. What possible relevance could they have in 2017? Could they make a comeback? Should they?

Joel: Our culture and our world is already in the doldrums. We don't need a load of 31-year-old bankers, social media managers, amateur DJs and Marcel jumping around in oversized shirts shouting about bumsex. I forbid a comeback.

Lauren: Not being funny but if, somehow, they managed to dig deep and birth another song like this I would back a Blazin' Squad comeback. There is no denying the potency of this song even 14 years on: my spin instructor played it in a class the other day and despite being covered in sweat and unable to speak coherently, I screamed aloud involuntarily. Also in case anyone from ITV2 is reading this, I'd watch the living shit out of a documentary about them revamping their collective career and welcoming Chris and Kem from Love Island as members, and can be reached via lauren.oneill@vice.com if you'd like to negotiate my executive producer credit and fee, thanks.

Hannah: Joel, you're genuinely going to come out here in the content and say British pop can't be helped by another "Flip Reverse"? As the most "good music stopped after 2013" twenty-something you've ever met, I say it won't hurt for them to give it another shot. There is an aforementioned big problem, though: this is their only good song, isn't it lol.

Emma: I'm still pressed by the fact I can't to slut drop to "Flip Reverse". I feel unsatisfied, like something is missing. I would like Blazin' Squad, please, to come back and finish what they started. If they can give me a song to slut drop to by September I will stan for them for the remainder of my horrid, horny days.

How likely is it that Blazin Squad will become Cool in 2017?

Lauren: Signs point to no. If their recent Love Island reunion appearance is anything to go by, they are, be-shirted and balding, more convincing as a group of men outside a pub who would shout comments about my legs than they are as a rap group.

Joel: They weren't cool in 2003, so the chances of them breaking convention twice and somehow ascending to fame against the uphill slope of their complete lack of harmony and back catalogue of – "Flip Reverse" aside – absolute anti-bangers is minimal. Like: it literally makes no sense that they were ever a thing to begin with. Watch the "Crossroads" video again. It's just a thousand boys who got too hopped up on Coke at a Nando's party for one of their 15th birthdays, swaying out of time on a ruined bridge. No. I don't even want to see one reunion show. I wish blessings for Marcel and hell for the rest of them. No.

Hannah: I refuse to entertain this. The only "cool" thing British pop has done in 2017 is Charli XCX bringing together every type of man a person could fancy and making them eat cereal.

Emma: I think it has become very apparent that it is not possible to thot to Blazin Squad in which case their currency in today's market is void, like The Big 50p. That said, if they were to – as Lauren previously mentioned – come back with a 100% smasher from concentrate rather than just riding the frayed bootcut jean-bottoms of "Flip Reverse" 14 years after the fact, I would back it harder than any Change.org petition demanding Wetherspoons bring back the Cheeky Vimto. Thanks.

You can find Emma, Hannah, Joel and Lauren on Twitter.