Yes. Usher's "Love in This Club Pt. II" featuring Beyoncé and Lil Wayne is the most commercial song ever (and by "ever" I mean, as far back as my short-attention-span-culture addled brain can think). This dropped Wednesday (to my knowledge, out of nowhere -- I just started hearing it on every New York urban-format radio yesterday as I drove to and from dinner), five whole weeks after the so-commercial-it-came-with-your-Mac original (the lead single from Usher's upcoming Here I Stand) relinquished the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It's a bizarre move to pull out a remix this late in the game, when a second single would normally be impacting -- remixes generally form part of a strategy to beef up a song's longevity, to open a track up to another radio format, or to make that fender-bender of a hit into a smash. "Love in This Club" shows no signs of going anywhere for a while (on the latest chart, it's No. 4 with a bullet) because it's an across-the-board smash. Tacking on pop's surest bet besides, say, Usher himself (Beyoncé) and perhaps the next in line for that title (look who's at No. 1 this week -- it's Weezy, baby), would in virtually any other case play out like an act of desperation. Here, it's brand-strengthening, a Coca-Cola-like dedication to pouring resources into staying on top.
As if discontent to be merely a commercial sign of the times, the content of "Club Pt. II" reinforces the public's fascination with the lives of stars by being basically nonfiction. Remix self-awareness is nothing new (ask R. Kelly and Diddy -- you can make a hook out of merely stating what something is!), but Usher knows that the teaming of R&B's king and queen (his words!) is "special," since Bey "could be anywhere." For her part, Beyoncé brings unlikely perspective to this highly tacky set-up when she deems it "crazy." "I got a man, you got a lady," she explains, and the rest of this track plays out as dictated by their rough-sketch personas: lothario Usher issues come-ons and virgin-whore Beyoncé rebuffs. Beyoncé wins, but Usher's more convincing -- when you live publicly, you fuck publicly. Can't fault a guy for being literal, as this is pop music.
While I don't doubt that this thing is going to take over in a huge way (I'm not complaining, either), one could point out the slightest of risks resides in the track itself: the fast-slow jam template of the original is smoothed out to make a quiet-storm ballad a la Keith Sweat and Jacci McGhee's "Make It Last Forever." Quiet storm tracks aren't exactly the sure-bets that they once were, but leave it to the most visible culture critic of his generation (seriously, it's practically on a Madonna level), Lil Wayne, to remind us that they once were when he interpolates Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place" at the end of his 16 bars. Note that when he does this, his voice has a woozy auto-tuning effect. The only thing that could make this track more commercial is the presence of T-Pain -- at least the dude's auxiliary larynx makes a cameo, you know? Elsewhere, Wayne is more incoherent than I've ever heard him, though I can't quite keep up with his cellar full of bootlegs so for all I know, he's done tracks in which he gargles Purple vomit. Here's my favorite couplet he spits -- this is amusing on practically an Ol' Dirty Bastard level. This track just keeps. On. Entertaining.
The ailing music industry is causing a rash of mighty strange public behavior, but "Love in This Club Pt. II" is the wackiest symptom so far. The bizarre melodic reference to former Destiny Child memeber LeToya Luckett's "Torn" (is an alternate title for this track "Beyoncé: The Revenge"?) notwithstanding, the basic philosophy behind "Club Pt. II" is that the only reasonable follow-up to a mega-hit is a bigger, tweaked version of that track. Our superstars are so powerful that they can rewrite the rules we hold dear thanks to common sense and advertising: now, you can get a second chance to make a first impression.
On her final episode, Stacy Ann didn't chomp her gum furiously or make dolphin sounds or exhibit any signs of undercover whoriness. It was as though she was already eliminated inside!
The weirdest thing she did was get all up on the confessional camera.
Perhaps she mistook it for a Breathalyzer after also mistaking Anyway for a Gobot (Anyway is soooo Scooter, no?). Perhaps she just wanted to scare the shit out of us (because for real, homegirl could be weird in the face). In fact, I think it must be the latter, and the gif below illustrates what you might see as you descend to hell, starting with Stacy Ann's close-up.
Perhaps we are already there. And that concludes this week's Pretty Party.
I have been so inspired by people and shit I've found on the street lately, you have no idea. An example of the latter category is this:
I walked past this Chick Book and had to swing back around to pick it up, because if there's anything that I love more than the willful misinterpretation of the theory of evolution (and I do love it!), it's the willful misinterpretation of the theory of evolution en español. You know, I kinda wish my grandfather was a gorilla. That's a lot more interesting than being Ukrainian, and can you imagine how much more complicated my last name would be if that were the case?
After the jump, more stupid shit that amuses me including a vagina arm so graphic that I feel the need to place a NSFW warning on this post.
Whatever drugs Mariah Carey’s taking are doing wonders for her music. Actually, what am I saying, “whatever drugs”? It’s obvious that she’s on the pot, or that she wants you to think she is – an inhaled “sssssss” kicks off the best song, “I’m That Chick,” on her best album, E=MC². And then: “Ooh wee!" is repeated enough to make this slow-burning disco come off like the shadier cousin of Rick James’ “Mary Jane.” Weed imagery dominates her boasts (“Boy I got you caught up inside of my haze,” “You’re fiendin’ to blaze up and taste me,” “You ain’t seeing things or hallucinating,” “Pull me in and breathe,” “I’m like that uptown haze them real thugs blaze / We’ll touch the sky…”), as though delusion is her artistic medium
And, duh: of course she’s high. I can’t imagine anything but marijuana driving her to the destination of this album’s title, which, in long form stands for Emancipation = Mariah
Carey (squared). That sort of nonsense-logic is the thing of tokers and
children, and image-wise, Mariah is both. (And seriously, even when you
spell it all out, what the fuck does “Emancipation = Mariah Carey (squared)” even mean? Is that, like, a two-second review of The Emancipation of Mimi?
Is it her coy way of simultaneously announcing that this album is its sequel and that
she doesn’t understand exponents? And if so, she so high
that she thinks her “2” needs to be up there with her?) Whatever,
though, tracks like “Chick” and “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time” are sonic
euphoria, career-highs that are so clean, you could snort off them.
Today, the most simultaneously overrated and underrated film in recent memory, Juno, arrives on DVD. I hate to be all Spike Lee and say, skip that, watch this, but uh, skip that and watch this*.
See, although I don't even hate Juno (despite everything, I enjoyed it, contrary to how I may have come off...twice), but I finally figured out exactly why I couldn't connect with its snotty-assed namesake: Juno MacGuff is the antithesis of My So-Called Life's Angela Chase, who's quite possibly my favorite teenage girl of all time (real or fiction). Juno is a know-it-all; Angela is a think-it-all. Juno is extroverted enough to be exempt from real self-consciousness (i.e. she has no idea how obnoxious she is); Angela is a painful self-examiner (however wrong her observations about herself are). Juno's an emotional superhero; Angela's ready to self-destruct at the tiniest shard of visceral kryptonite. Juno's intellect is lightning-fast and infallible (even if she doesn't know Greek from Roman mythology); Angela's musings, even when spot-on, are worded goofily enough to feel perpetually stumbled upon.
It's this last point that I feel is most important: while Juno is essentially the extension of Diabo Cody's considerable ego, Angela Chase is a warts-and-all portrait of a well-rounded human. She's whiny, annoying, selfish, clever, insightful, beautiful. And hilarious! Rewatching MSCL via last year's DVD release reminded me how awesome Angela's dialogue is, especially her narration. I haven't seen any sort of clip reel that collects her greatest hits, so I made one. The wisdom of Angela Chase follows in all of its endearingly laughable splendor:
I don't want to video you out, so below is a transcript of Angela's musings. I think they might be even funnier in print:
For those who don't like the format, or can't view videos or are fucking sick of looking at my face: have no fear. Regular format will return next week. At least, that's the plan. I can never be too sure what I'm going to do in this space in the future, because I have to sorta play everything by ear and tailor the medium to the message. Plus, you know, I gotta keep things fun for myself. The greatest thing about change is its lack of permanence.