They are those eternal, evergreen words, handed down from song to song as if sent from the heavens above: “I’m too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts.” That ancient proverb, of course, is courtesy of English duo Right Said Fred and their 1991 anthem “I’m Too Sexy.”
A delightfully narcissistic track dedicated to self-empowerment (at least, that’s one read on it), the band’s novelty ode to shaking little tushes dominated the culture upon release, hitting number one in several countries and catapulting brothers Richard and Fred Fairbrass to the front of public consciousness. In 2022, their imprint on the cultural zeitgeist is surprisingly profound: In the past year, we’ve heard that refrain interpolated on Drake’s chart-topper “Way 2 Sexy,” and once again on “Alien Superstar” off of Beyoncé’s latest record, Renaissance.
On the heels of Bey’s take, here’s (mostly) every interpolation of the “I’m too sexy for [INSERT THING HERE]” riff, ranked by how sexy it really is.
“Alien Superstar,” Beyoncé
In this album standout, Beyoncé’s role as ethereal Virgo goddess is on full display. Almost all of Renaissance is an ode to the self, so it’s only fitting that a song that contains instantly quotable lines like “category: bad bitch, I’m the bar” interpolates the most quotable tribute to the self there is. “I’m too classy for this world,” she sings, over sweeping synthesizers and Honey Dijon production. It’s Beyoncé, so we believe her, but the lines are flipped so well that they’d land no matter who managed to sing them.
“Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor Swift
One of the most creative uses of the original, and perhaps a favorite. On “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor throws both of the Fairbrass brothers a writing credit for the chorus of her monster hit. Unlike the others on this list, it doesn’t lift any of the lyrics; it’s the simple cadence that Swift uses, which could’ve maybe gone under the radar if it wasn’t for her and eternal Good Guy Jack Antonoff throwing the duo a bone. It’s also a favorite of Right Said Fred’s: In their Rolling Stone interview, Fred Fairbass said, “I like the cynical aspect of the lyric [in “Look What You Made Me Do”], because ‘I’m Too Sexy’ is a cynical song, and I think she channeled that quite well.”
“Too Cocky,” YG
Hip-hop’s use of Right Said Fred tends to skew towards extremes, either being incredibly fitting or terribly misplaced (as seen later down the list). Thankfully, YG’s take from his third studio album, Stay Dangerous, belongs to the former. The original’s inherent swagger is part of the charm; the duo’s cockiness is something YG effortlessly harnesses. “I’m too cocky for my shirt … too cocky, I know my worth.” Exactly, king!
“Hepatic Portal,” Nmesh
Contrary to most of the other entries on the list, electronic producer Nmesh uses a sample of “I’m Too Sexy” for the 2017 track “Hepatic Portal.” Without the help of whosampled.com, the clips might not stand out to an untrained ear, but a dedicated Fred-head would recognize the deep, reverberating voice next to Katy Perry and an obscure Dr. Seuss film. If you’ve ever listened to an Against All Logic record and clocked the samples in real time, this one’s right up your alley.
“More Than Money,” Kooley High
Kooley High’s “More Than Money” came out only four years ago, but would fit perfectly with the breezy, Wiz Khalifa–adjacent blog rap of the late 2000s and early 2010s. There’s an easiness to it, an immaculately produced track with a sauntering bass line; when the Right Said Fred interpolation comes almost three minutes into the track, it’s done with such a playfulness that you can hear rapper Charlie Smarts smiling on the other side. It’s silly, reflecting the ethos of the original.
“Get Sexy,” Sugababes
This one kind of straddles the line of categories here — I’m not nearly as familiar with the Sugababes as I should be (sorry, Brits) and most of the song is giving C-tier Danity Kane. However, despite whatever Right Said Fred intended the song to be — tongue-in-cheek, self-serious, or otherwise — they always have fully devoted themselves to the bit. On this track, the Sugababes follow suit, aided by the Smeezingtons’ writing and production.
“Neva Faded” — Lords of the Underground feat. Supreme C
The only reason “Neva Faded” isn’t higher is because the interpolation is only found in one line. At the end of the first verse, Mr. Funke passes it off to the chorus with “I’m out (Why?) ’Cause I’m too sexy for this song.” For the sake of discussion, it counts.
“Alive,” Kato & Electric Lady Lab
Right Said Fred has come to embody a certain kind of danceable Eurotrash over the years. On “Alive,” Danish DJ Kato incorporates the actual vocals of the Fairbrass brothers in a song that is exactly that: hollow yet danceable European club music. In a way, it represents a facet of the song that is continually glossed over: its cheesiness!
“Keenon Jackson,” YG
Six years before “Too Cocky” was released, YG tackled the same lyrics on “Keenon Jackson.” Produced by Mustard, the track doesn’t leave much of an impact and includes some unsavory lines about Asian women.
“Too Cocky,” Guapdad 4000
Though the title might suggest otherwise, the Guapdad 4000 song is not a remix nor an homage to the excellent YG version. It even came out eight days before Stay Dangerous. Both tracks share a refrain — “I’m too cocky” — but the similarities end there. It’s perfectly a fine take; but when put next to YG, it can’t compare. Apologies to Guapdad 4000; maybe he heard “Keenon Jackson” and decided to put his own spin on things?
NOT SEXY AT ALL
“Way 2 Sexy,” Drake, Future, Young Thug
Extremely, indubitably unsexy. Right Said Fred’s song is camp; to strip that all away in favor of drowsy, meandering algorithm bait removes all the character embodied in the original “I’m Too Sexy.” It doesn’t deserve the direct sample at the top, and almost certainly doesn’t deserve lines like “I’m way too sexy to go unprotected.” The video also doesn’t do it any favors. The OVO team is consistently excellent when it comes to making samples work; it’s even worse, then, that “Way 2 Sexy” is that charmless.
“Batshit,” Sofi Tukker
So, we’ve spent a lot of time debating sexiness, but part of the beauty of the original song is that it’s not sexy. Fred and Richard Fairbrass spend so much time talking about how attractive they are in their daily lives that it takes on the opposite desired effect: horseshoeing around into being incredibly unsexy. They even say this in their Rolling Stone interview: “‘Sexy’ was not really making fun of those people, but making fun of people who thought they were those people.” It doesn’t seem like Sofi Tukker understands this. On “Batshit,” the duo anchors the track around an interpolation, effectively trying to make the song sexy to honor the material. It doesn’t work.
“Too Sexy,” Inna
Something about this is so annoying to me. “Too Sexy” fits somewhere between an Ibiza party anthem and Old Navy commercial-core. The last minute and a half repeats over and over, “I’m too sexy for your love.” As shown by this list, there are so many good ways to spin that line, so why must the one Inna lands on be so boring?
“Les Anticipateurs,” Paradis
If someone can explain Quebecois rap to me I would appreciate it.
“My Testicles,” Ariel and Efrim
Okay, this fits into the “not sexy” category with a caveat: It’s supposed to be that way. In this digital short from season 31 of Saturday Night Live, Andy Samberg and Tom Hanks are the duo Ariel and Efrim, a tribute both in appearance and spirit to the members, and vibe, of Right Said Fred. “Please don’t cut off their testicles,” they beg — incredibly, delightfully unsexy.