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Track Review

Nick came back. And now Joe Jonas, the middle Jonas Brother, is back. He's fronting a four-piece band with a hard-to-pronounce name (reportedly a take on a drunk person pronouncing the word dance) that's got a song focused on a rather unlikely subject: the lowly toothbrush.

But it's only an unlikely subject for about the first 15 seconds or so on this falsetto-filled pop-rock song, one that could easily be confused with something from, say, Maroon 5. After that, the reason Jonas and his bandmates are singing about a toothbrush becomes perfectly clear. Too clear, even.

Let's say from the outset that it's not because Jonas has a fixation on oral hygiene. No, the toothbrush is a symbolic stand-in for the deepening level of physical intimacy with someone who's spending the night more and more often.

Oh Where Is My Toothbrush?

Here's how it works: Jonas is frustrated that his latest paramour keeps running off in the morning to get home to brush her teeth. He then launches a preemptive rhetorical strike on the possibility that she's nervous someone might notice the proliferation of oral implements and connect the dots. No worries, Jonas says. They've got nothing to hide: "We don't need to keep it hush/You could leave a toothbrush/At my place."

From there, the song drifts into languid, soft-focused lyrics about the nights and mornings that this torrid couple spends together. "Stuck in a limbo/Half hypnotized/Each time I let you stay the night, stay the night," he sings. "Up in the morning/Tangled in sheets/We play the moment on repeat."

That's followed by likely more, ahem, sheet tangling ("When you're standing there in your underwear/And my T-shirt from the night before/With your messed-up hair/And your feet still bare/Would you mind closing the door?").

As for the possibility of spending more such nights together, well, that's a foregone conclusion in Jonas' mind ("No need to question next time we meet/I know you're coming home with me, home with me").

A Tale of Two Videos

The video for "Toothbrush" is a pretty literal—and pretty sensual—interpretation of the song. It alternates between DNCE performing on top of a building and Jonas kissing, caressing and ogling model Ashley Graham. As per the song's lyrics, she's wearing an off-the-shoulder T-shirt and lounging in her underwear in bed with her paramour.

"We're doing cool stuff in bed," Jonas said of the video in an interview at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. "We had the beautiful Ashley Graham in the video. We just got to make out and roll around on each other all day. It was a man's dream come true."

Then there's DNCE's lyric video.

Lyric videos rarely warrant being called out specifically. But as the lyrics float by on "Toothbrush," we see a story played in reverse, with a woman walking backwards, then into an apartment, brushing her teeth (of course), removing most of her clothes, and finally getting into bed with another woman. The camera ogles her lingerie and backside. So the lyric video may actually be more visually risqué than the "normal" one.

And that one—not to mention the song it's based on—is plenty problematic to begin with.

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May 17, 2016

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Adam R. Holz

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