It's hard to believe—the news being what it is right now—that this is the number one song in the country. It opens with Ms. Perry, whom I've never heard of (no surprise there), informing us that she knows a place "where there's something in the water."
Wait, let me guess: Is it oil? Burning rigs? Dead pelicans?
Nope. The song is about Southern California, not the Gulf Coast—yes, it's another wish-they-all-could-be homage-off to the state where the "girls wear Daisy Dukes with bikinis on top" and have "sex on the beach" with "their butts hanging out."
The white girl sings, the music producer equalizes, the Snoop Dogg raps, the inevitable Auto-Tune Auto-Tunes, and I sit here wishing I hadn't agreed to do this.
Nine more songs to get through. Holy Christ.
We have the gays to blame for all this Auto-Tune abuse, right? When Cher used it in "Believe," it was a hit with the gays, then a hit with the muggles, and Cher made lots of money, and now—what? Ten years later?—here's Usher, who I've actually heard of, squeezing the last five bucks out of it.
This is a baby-baby song. "Baby, baby, I want to do this to you, that to you, then that first thing again, baby, baby, OMG, you're so hot, baby." Usher raps while Arsenio Hall's old studio audience chants away in the background. OMG: People are supposed to dance to this shit.
"OMG" is merely tedious until Usher rhymes "dance floor" with "drop low" by pronouncing floor "flow," which is when the song becomes offensive. Any idiot could find rhymes for anything using the pronounce-it-however-you-want approach. Orange is a tough word to rhyme—very nearly impossible—but, hey, if you pronounce it "orish," then it rhymes with "fish" and "dish" and "swish." Can I have my Grammy now, please?
A piano tinkles, a lady sings, some beats kick in, and... it's another rap number.
Someone needs a wish right now—so they're gonna pretend that airplanes are shooting stars, because, you know, what else is there to wish on? Besides, oh, wishbones, birthday candles, coins tossed in fountains, stray eyelashes, etc.
But, hey, I know the feeling, lady—I wish I'd said no to this assignment.
This could be an inspiring song for the Great Depression 2.0: There are a lot of people out there who could use a wish right now—the long-term unemployed, soldiers dying in Afghanistan, shrimpers on the Gulf Coast—but... no. The person who needs a wish right now is a rapper who just wants to go back to the days when he was rapping for the love of the "music that started this shit," and not the money and fame and the game and blah blah blah.
You know how when you look at the charts from the '50s and early '60s and it's nothing but Pat Boone and crooners year after year and you think, "Boy, popular music was repetitive and safe and boring back then—so white-bread!"
Isn't that rap now? All of these monotonous rap songs are playing in Panera Bread cafes and suburban basements all over the country. Usher, B.o.B.—they're today's Pat Boones, boring and safe—so... brown-bread.
OMG—I liked this song.
Should I say that? Will it ruin it for everyone else—will it ruin Mr. McCoy for his target audience—if it gets out that a musical-theater queen liked this song?
Like—no, I loved it. I listened to it 23 times in a row. That's how we roll, we musical-theater queens. Listen to it over and over, until you know it inside and out, until you can sing along.
Which is exactly what I'm doing right now.
"Billionaire" starts quietly—a guitar is plucked, some bongos (?) tapped, a gentle, swaying beat kicks in. It has an island lilt to it, almost reggae. And then—could it be?!?—someone actually starts singing.
Okay, then a rap starts—but! But! But! "Billionaire" doesn't lose its light touch, its gentle soul. There's no "nncha, nncha, nncha," no shouting, no get-up-and-dance bullshit, no "baby, baby," no ridiculously strained rhymes. It doesn't sound like every other fuckin' thing on this list. And the lyrics! Fucking funny and fucking smart—wait, did he just make a joke about illegal campaign contributions?
Excuse me for a second—I'm going to stick this one in my iTunes, where it's going to sit between "Bigger Is Better" from the off-Broadway musical revue When Pigs Fly and "Bowler Hat" from Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Kabuki musical Pacific Overtures.
Sorry about that, Travie.
So this little vulgarity spells her name with a dollar sign? That's classy.
Anyway, we're back to the usual bullshit. Beat, beat, beat, a white girl rapping about how she's strung out and her heart is all fried because "your love, your love is my drug," and she can't get enough of him.
At a low point—one of many—KeDollarSigna describes herself as a "lovesick crackhead."
I suppose you could dance to this shit—fuck, I expect there are gay bars full of fags dancing to this shit. That's because most gay people, like most people people, have no taste. Plus, those fags' drugs are actual drugs.
I don't need to go on about this one—it's being discussed everywhere—and I saw the video last week because I'm gay and I was just following orders. But while everyone's talking about how Lady Gaga is ripping off/homaging the shit out of Madonna here—she wears a nun's habit, she swallows a rosary—it sounds like she's ripping off/homaging the shit out of ABBA's "Fernando."
I can totally hear the drums.
More brown-bread—a little singing, a little rapping. They call Mr. Cruz "the heartbreaker," he tells us, and he's only going to break-break-break your heart, so go away, little girl.
Donny Osmond got there first and did it better.
Eminem is not afraid.
I am afraid of Eminem, however. Even if he did endorse gay marriage last week—but only because he thinks gay people should be miserable, too, just like straight people. (However miserable your divorce was, Eminem, it can't compare to the experience of being barred from your partner's bedside as she lies dying because she was unlucky enough to have a fatal brain aneurism in "an anti-gay state.")
I've heard that this is Eminem's "nice" song. It's rap, of course, and it's dull. Nice or no, Eminem hasn't gone soft—there's a lot of "fuck you" in there, even some gunshots, but then... suddenly... uplift: "Everybody come take my hand/We'll walk this road together, through the storm/Whatever weather [unintelligible]/You're not alone."
Um... I hope this doesn't get me killed, but at the end there, Eminem's "Not Afraid" sounds an awful lot like Rodgers & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone":
When you walk through a storm/Hold your head up high/And don't be afraid of the dark/At the end of the storm/Is a golden sky/And the sweet silver song of a lark!
Walk on, through the wind/Walk on, through the rain/Though your dreams be tossed and blown/Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart/And you'll never walk alone!
What do you suppose the odds are that Eminem is a musical-theater queen, too?
I'm running out of steam and patience here. All you need to know beyond the "rock your body" trope is that this song features what sounds like Alvin the chipmunk doing backup. Alvin is Auto-Tuned and rapping, of course, and Alvin wants you to rock that body, too.
No wait, it's not Alvin—it's... my God... it's Crazy Frog.
I can't take it anymore. I quit.