I had a discussion recently about the underlying message in music. What is all music really saying, ya know? I think it boils down to very few subjects. But we’re not going to discuss all of those subjects here, dear reader, oh no. We won’t discuss Lionel Richie and the longevity of the love song, nor will we discuss the triumphant and everlasting message behind Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” We’re here to discuss the most important message of all: Fuck You.
Who knows what “good” music is anymore. For someone such as myself who is in love with musical superlatives, I am aware that so much of this is subjective. So let me say, this will apply to “Powerful” music. Music that has an exclamation point. This transcends genre, era, performers, context, all of that. Music that if it came on first thing in the morning, your day would be constantly guarded by an iridescent mountain lion wearing a technicolor dream coat and Cosmo Kramer’s lobster shirt. A great song should be saying “Fuck You” to something.
For all of the Gweneth Paltrow-izing that it has gone through, Cee Lo Green’s mega summer jam is a fantastic song. Do you remember before it was “officially” released, censored, and overplayed, and there was simply a video scrolling the lyrics in different whimsical fonts against a colored background? That may have been the greatest video I have ever seen. The song is so pure at its foundation. Let me summarize; “You, the dude over here, stole the girl I loved, and for that, you may sincerely go fuck yourself. You ma’am, over there, former object of my affection, who once held the keys to my heart, you’re a gold digga’…may also, on your voting registration, join the Fuck You Recipient Party. In this case, I’ll even include the censored version, because Cee Lo deserves to get paid, and the message remains.
But as we said earlier, the message does not need to be explicitly stated. In writing this, I tried to think of examples of amazing songs that do NOT say “Fuck You” in some way. And let me tell you, web user perusing this here blog, it was not easy! “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?” That song is just one giant “Fuck You” to everything. Listen to the end of the chorus “Because I’m free….nothin’s worrying me!” Bacharach and David are basically giving the middle finger to everyone and everything in that statement. Politics, social issues, sports teams, they’re not worrying me, so take a fucking number.
Let’s continue on the theme of the not so obvious “Fuck You.” We skip the catalogs of John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Punk Rock as a whole, The genius Harry Nillson…wait, let’s include that one for good measure:
Hall and Oates? “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” might as well have been parenthesized (is that a word?) “I Can’t Go For That (Fuck You)” The Bee-Gees “Stayin Alive”? Check out the lyrics, man! But even if that song were instrumental, you would get the message. Even Beyonce…”If you Like It Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On It….And By The Way Fuck You” was the working title before it was released.
We want our music, regardless of style, to have some conviction. That’s why these temporary Idol pop songs do not move us. (with the exception of “Since You Been Gone”) Its just generic dance floor propaganda. Yes, we can roll up to the club, say something to the DJ, and find some fly members of the opposite sex, but what then? We need some lyrical sparring, something we can get behind. And if we can’t get behind the underlying message of “Fuck You” then really, what hope do we have as a society? None, by blog browsing friend, none.