I’ve talked so much about female artists, I’ve decided that my next few reviews will solely be male artists. Truthfully, this is because talking about women representing their own sexuality is a lot easier, because it’s a push/pull situation. On one hand, there has to be some level of sexual progressiveness; on the other, how do you do that tastefully and appropriately for the wide-ranging audiences pop songs reach?
Men in pop has become very interesting in recent years. It used to be that you could point to NSYNC or The Backstreet Boys or Justin Timberlake and say, “That’s a dude doing pop. That’s what’s happening.” It’s not quite so clear anymore. This is – at least in part – due to the fact that pop is barely pop anymore. It’s essentially a bastardised amalgam of RnB, dance, house, and a splash of pop itself. Obviously this has always been the case, but suddenly the recipe has changed. Rather than three cups of sugar, we’re putting in half a cup, and so forth (good news for diabetes sufferers!). This is just the nature of musical progression – essentially, we’ll like what they tell us to like.
There are a few facets of man-pop that are easily distinguishable:
- Most of the time, black men do better than white men.
- It is heavily rooted in arrogance.
- They like to sing about heavily rooting.
The attitude toward women in a lot of man-pop is pretty horrendous. I hate to bring everything back to women, but women usually sing about things that reflect upon themselves, and men usually sing about women. In recent times, this has been incredibly problematic – I’ll just direct you towards the Rapey McRaperson twins, Enrique Iglesias and Brian McFadden. Seriously, that Brian McFadden song is terrifying. I can’t believe someone thought that was appropriate.
Which brings me to Jason Desrouleaux (his real name, which is much cooler because it reminds me of Joseph Ducreux). This song isn’t particularly bad, but it does suffer by association. Pop songwriters, in this case Derulo and The Fliptones, need to avoid anything, ANYTHING about taking advantage of drunk girls. And yet, the bridge lets us down:
I just met this sexy Haitian girl moving like a dancer
Told her and her girlfriends lets meet in my cabana
Ask me where the party’s at baby I’m the answer
Have another drink with me shawty where your manners
Take another shot another shot shot shot shot
I can make it hot make it hot hot
Jesus. Christ. “Hey, you girls are hot! You should all get really drunk so you can’t see that I’m a fucking asshole you’d want nothing to do with sober!” Honestly. Have another drink…where your manners? “Gosh, it’s so rude that you’re not getting drunk so I can take you home and take advantage of you!!” Now, not many people are gonna look at this as analytically as I bother to do, so they probably don’t care. But in the narrative of the song, at no point does this sexy Haitian girl (back off Derulo, Haitians have suffered enough) indicate she has any interest in this powerdouche. He thinks she’s hot, so he gets her drunk. Lovely. And okay, the fact that she’d drink with him may indicate she’s interested but let’s face it, we all know there are girls who are savvy enough to exploit creepers for free drinks. And also, not only is he cracking onto her, he’s cracking onto her friends as well. No class!
Now that I think about it, does any woman find lets meet in my cabana/Ask me where the party’s at baby I’m the answer sexy or alluring in any way? It makes it sound like he’s going to lure them into the “cabana”, tie them up and masturbate while he tickles them with ornate feathers.
The actual song is an uninspired turd. Not only does he sample the sassy, pulsing Show Me Love by Robin S, but he tries to ruin HARRY FUCKING BELAFONTE. I’ll put up with a lot – the Black Eyed Peas ruining Time of My Life was painful, but not that serious a musical offence – but stay the FUCK away from Harry Belafonte. This is an unacceptable crime, and Derulo should be exiled for it. I just won’t have it.
Less subjectively, the song is cookie cutter “pop”. It’s basically RnB house. None of the hooks are original – both are cribbed from the two aforementioned songs. Belafonte’s Day-O anchors the chorus and Show Me Love’s synth line carries the rest of the song backed by a beat you’ve almost certainly heard before. The rest of the lyrics are basically just typical “omg partyin is so gud!!!1” things you hear in…pretty much every single other pop song out there. The lack of originality on display here is, in its own special way, inspiring. And yet, naturally, people lap it up. Alas.
The other thing I meant to mention was the line Yeah so we losing control/Turn the lights low cause we about to get blown which I really don’t think was properly thought through, especially when one of the lines in the first verse is about a blonde girl passing out in his lap. Ugh.
Man-pop is awfully flavourless these days. If you played be songs I’d never heard by Taio Cruz, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Derulo etc. I’d probably struggle to tell the difference. Thank god Derulo throws in the hackneyed mention of his own name at the start of this one just in case I confused it for some other heard-it-before nonsense. At least Justin Timberlake was doing what he was doing with Futuresex/Lovesounds before everybody else was, you know? At least The Backstreet Boys didn’t insinuate date-rape (as far as I know. Maybe if you play their songs backwards?).
It seems like, as women have been more willing to put their sexuality on display, it means that men have assumed greater license to exploit it. Rappers have been doing it for ages but generally speaking these interchangeable RnB singers have kept their songs fairly “I love you, girl” and not “DRINK! DRINK SO I CAN BANG YOU!!”. I’d like them to stick to what they’re good at. Closer was Ne-Yo’s biggest hit, and for good reason. Not only was the content of the song good and appropriate, it wasn’t full of cheaply used “samples” which end up forming the backbone of the entire song. The thing Derulo doesn’t seem to realise is that if he wants to make good music he can’t rely on samples in so many songs. After using Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek and that Flashdance sample, it’s pretty clear that the dude isn’t talented enough to come up with his own shit. Fortunately for him? 99% of the time, success in pop is because songwriters brandish their lack of originality like a weapon. Hopefully, soon, that changes.