Say what you will about Fifty Shades, but it's major and getting one of your tracks into the movie could be a big break for an up-and-coming musician. Not that Paul Janeway of St. Paul and the Broken Bones thought that way when he agreed to license "Call Me," because he didn't know what the hell Fifty Shades of Grey was.
Mother Jones, noting that Janeway was raised religious and once planned to be a preacher, asked about the song appearing in the movie. It turns out the soul singer was operating under a slight misconception. Specifically, he thought Fifty Shades was a romantic comedy:
All right, my first Fifty Shades of Grey question! When they presented the licensing opportunity, they presented it as: It's going to be a huge movie, they want to put a decent amount of the song in the movie in a non-sexual scene.
I knew it was a book, but I had no idea what it was. So I was like, sure, big movie, good exposure. I'll be in this romantic comedy. Which is what I thought it was: a romantic comedy. It's a good way to make money in the music business, you know. Then I saw a preview for it, and I was like, 'Oh shit. Oh no. What have I done?'
God bless this man for somehow managing to avoid this inescapable cultural phenomenon. Where is your bunker, Paul Janeway? Can I come hang out there?
Ultimately, he said, "it's kind of funny," though he admitted: "I'm glad it's in a non-sexual scene to be honest with you, not for my sake but for my family's sake. I don't have any moral things about it. It's not like we're in the movie—it's just a song for a minute." What makes this extra funny is that like so many great singers before him, Janeway learned to sing at church (Pentecostal, specifically, so the real deal) and once planned to be a preacher. He told NPR that his relationship with religion is a little more complicated these days and he's come to disagree with a lot of what he was taught growing up, but that doesn't change the moment of gut-wrenching horror when you realize "oh God my momma's gonna get some phone calls about this." Been there.
At any rate, it's a pretty great song. But it was not included on the official soundtrack so I cannot tell you with any degree of certainty whether it is possible to masturbate to it.