Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade: #95 – “Tuff Love (Barb Wire),” from Patti Cake$


95. “Tuff Love (Barb Wire),” from Patti Cake$

So this song, for those who haven’t seen Patti Cake$ (which, based on what I’m gauging just by talking to people these past few years, is most of you), is one of the more important songs in the entire film. It’s not a rap, unlike almost all the others, because it’s not sung by Patti, but by her mother. The film is partially a mother-daughter story, and this song represents her mother, portrayed brilliantly by Bridget Everett. She was a minor singer in the 80s who released one album under the name Barb Wire. And then she had a kid and is now this single mother who bartends at a cop bar, gets drunk and sings karaoke, sort of reliving her past glory that way. Which, of course, her daughter can’t stand, because her daughter wants to actually make it. And this song, which she puts on at one point, represents all of that, and also factors into another song at the end of the film, which we’ll eventually get to on here. But also, in terms of just the song, isn’t it just a great 80s-style rock song? You can definitely hear someone like a Pat Benatar or someone like that performing something like this, which is what makes it feel so perfect for the film. It feels like it could be real.

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