“Steal My Sunshine” by Len

The lyrics of Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” aren’t necessarily the easiest to decipher. But the overall idea it is meant to convey seems for the most part pretty clear.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Len's Steal My Sunshine at Lyrics.org.

As a premise, the vocalist(s) is suffering from depression. And he comes to realize that it is up to himself to overcome this emotional/psychological malady. Also it is implied, to some degree, that said depression may be the result of others making an attempt to ‘steal his sunshine’. Thus the term “sunshine”, as used therein, would be synonymous with happiness. 

Overall Message of “Steal My Sunshine”

So putting all of this together, the overall message is that one has to be vigilant in protecting and propagating their own emotional wellbeing as opposed to giving in to a feeling of defeat.

And, that’s pretty much it. The bulk of this song, all lyrics considered, may not even be related to that idea per se. For instance, the intro and perhaps what we can call the interlude between the first chorus and second verse (of the album version) basically feature personal conversations being relayed between Len bandmates. 

And the outro simply presents the phrase “my sunshine, if you steal my sunshine” being repeated which, in and of itself, doesn’t particularly make sense. Indeed the implication would be ‘if you steal the sunshine’ of the vocalist, then he or she will make a more concerted effort to counteract such. And he would achieve such by doing whatever it is he has to do not to give in to a feeling of depression or defeat. 

Thesis Sentiment and Conclusion

But that conclusion, which we will call the thesis sentiment of the song, is based primarily on the first verse and first chorus. As far as the second chorus and to some extent even second verse goes, the wording is a lot more complex/confusing and thus more open to interpretation.

But ultimately, none of that matters as far as songs like “Steal My Sunshine” goes. The audio is such that one has to sort of strain to hear some of the words anyway. The presumption would be that the track blew up due to sounding cool, not because of the message contained therein.

Lyrics to "Steal My Sunshine"

Len

Although the name of the artist may read like an individual, at the time Len was at least four or according to the lyrics and cover art five artists’ deep. In more recent times the moniker has been held down by frontman Marc Costanzo and his older sibling, Sharon Costanzo. Both Marc and Sharon are the two vocalists on this song. 

But within the lyrics, a “Tim”, “Matt” and “Chad” are also mentioned. Based a few sources, one of those individuals would most likely be fully named Matt Kelly. But there is no Chad or Tim listed as having ever been a member of the group.

Another artist who was formerly a member of Len that was involved in the creation of this song is Brendan Canning.

“You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush”

This track is from Len’s third album, which is entitled “You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush”. Their previous two efforts, 1995’s “Superstar” and 1997’s “Get Your Legs Broke”, failed to make any noise. However, “You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush” appeared on the UK Albums Chart and Billboard 200, also going gold in the US. 

Additionally it earned a spot on the Canadian Albums Chart, performing most impressively there, where it broke the top 40, than on the other two lists. And such is understandable considering that Len is in fact from Toronto.

The presumption would be that the reason “You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush” was successful is specifically because of this song, which served as its lead single and opening track. 

Success of “Steal My Sunshine”

Indeed “Steal My Sunshine” is pretty much the only hit in Len’s entire catalog. It made it onto the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. The song achieved the same feat on the Billboard Hot 100 (as well as Canada Top Singles).

“Steal My Sunshine” also went platinum in the US and Australia. And to note, it is the opening track on the playlist of the aforementioned album.

This song’s success is partially attributable to the fact that it was featured on a movie that came out in 1999 entitled Go. The soundtrack of the said film came out and publicized it even before “You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush”.

In the years that followed it has also been featured on a handful of television shows, such as Mr. Robot (2015) and South Park (2016).

Steal My Sunshine

Writing and Production

The aforementioned Marc Costanzo wrote this song. However, Marc didn’t write it alone, he composed it with Gregg Diamond (1949-1999). Diamond was an American musician who was most notably active during the 1970s. 

In fact it appears that the reason Diamond is credited is because he wrote a 1976 track entitled “More, More, More” (by Andrea True Connection) which is sampled onto Steal My Sunshine.

Marc also produced “Steal My Sunshine”, albeit doing so under the moniker Mumble C. And when putting the piece together he set out to emulate the sound of a 1981 Human League classic, “Don’t You Want Me“.

What Len's Marc Costanzo said about "Steal My Sunshine"

Music Video

Additionally Marc Costanzo acted as the director of the track’s music video, accomplishing the task alongside Bradley Walsh. They shot it in Palm Springs, Florida, apparently during Spring Break, i.e. said localities peak party season. 

And they did so with $100,000 apparently provided by Work Records, the label that put the track out. And as the legend goes, most of those funds were spent on alcohol – so much so that the hotel service elevator tasked with lifting it all malfunctioned. 

Reportedly, that is also why you see the homeys riding scooters in the clip instead of conventional motorbikes, because they were bloody drunk. But apparently it was all worth the effort, as the clip did take home three 1999 MuchMusic Video Awards, a ceremony that is native to Canada.

Is Len a one-hit wonder?

The band did drop a track in 2000 entitled “Cryptik Souls Crew” that broke the top 30 of the UK Singles Chart. But that appears to be it as far as songs they came out which actually charted. Thus Len is by and large considered to be a one-hit wonder.

As noted early, Len failed to produce any other hits after this one. Thus their contract with Work Records, which was transferred to EMI, was terminated shortly thereafter. And as far as Work itself goes, which was active from 1992 to 1999, it would appear that the biggest hit they were involved in was putting out Jennifer Lopez’s debut album, On the 6.

3 Responses

  1. Fanny Blofart says:

    Good memories of this song and the time period. To debate the very meaning of matter itself is another topic for another time.

  2. B says:

    This summer song is about choices “if you steal my sunshine” is sung by a female voice. This is a double entendre meaning happiness and virginity. The song mentions finding a “butter tart,” which is slang for a promiscuous woman. The song mentions a ton of other double entendres and the video shows a pregnant girl at the end with something written or tattoo on her bump. This song was trying to be slick by masking the true message, but with its catchy sound, it was destined to be a classic summer hit regardless of its message.

    • 303-Techno says:

      I love this song, and appreciate the interpretation and explanation you shared. 30 years after, no longer a broke student, I’m gonna go buy their CDs.

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