I Touch Myself – 1990

“I Touch Myself” is a song written and recorded by the Australian rock band Divinyls. It was released in December 1990 as the lead single from their fifth album, diVINYLS, and is a paean to female pleasure, eroticism, orgasm and masturbation.

The single achieved great success, reaching number four on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 on 18 March, 1991; meanwhile in their native country, Australia, the single reached the number one position. The song was written by Divinyls bandmembers Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee and professional songwriters Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. It has since been covered by numerous artists.

Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee wrote the song in 1990 with the songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (who have written songs such as “I’ll Stand by You,” “Like a Virgin,” “Eternal Flame,” “True Colors” and “So Emotional”). Billy Steinberg had “I Touch Myself” in his notebook; he had written the first verse and the chorus lyric. Amphlett liked it immediately. The next day, McEntee, Steinberg, Kelly, and Amphlett got together and wrote the rest, an unusual move, as Steinberg and Kelly rarely collaborated with others. Putting the song together took a lot of trial and error. It was recorded to two inch tape, making it difficult to edit. After significant experimentation they came up with an unusual structure with the bridge placed after the first chorus. It’s written in the key of D minor.

In 2014, some of Australia’s leading female artists came together to reincarnate Amphlett’s anthem, “I Touch Myself”. Each provided their own interpretation and distinct style to the song in an effort to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.

In Australia “I Touch Myself” was released as a CD single in December 1990 and debuted at No. 31 later that month. After five weeks of being in the chart the song jumped to No. 1 knocking Vanilla Ice’s debut single “Ice Ice Baby” off the top spot and stayed there for another week. It debuted on the UK Singles Chart at No. 69 and on its eighth week it peaked at No. 10 (its peak position in the UK) and spending a total of twelve weeks in the chart. When released in the United States, the song caused a minor controversy. However, it managed to reach the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 4 and at No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, after receiving extensive play on modern rock radio, which was more accepting of the song’s subject matter. Divinyls are considered a one-hit wonder in the US, as “I Touch Myself” was their only Stateside Top 40.