In a post at Cover Me, Riley Haas describes Depeche Mode’s 1990 song Personal Jesus as having “sex appeal with a sinister undercurrent of dominance and submission.” Michelle Kash, whose cover is featured in the post, “said she aimed to turn it from a song about a man dominating every aspect of a woman’s life to a song about sexual freedom.”
There’s breathy sex appeal in the original, sure, but I had always thought of that as just Depeche Mode being Depeche Mode. They could write a song about standing in line at the Orange Julius, and it would have sex appeal and an undercurrent of D&S.
I had, without thinking about it too much, always thought of the song as being about religion. Theologically, the actual Jesus Christ is supposed to your personal savoir. Putting Him on the phone was the promise of 1980s televangelists who had a toll-free number crawling across the bottom of the screen.