Someone deserves the blame

I really didn’t want to write this blog. The idea, after all, has been marinating since last summer, before The Brew House existed, and then simmered a little into the fall.

I thought the crux of the idea, a song, would gracefully pass into the Satelite radio netherworld where all other one-time, bubble gum pop/rap/R&B hits go to spend eternity after they’ve received their last mainstream FM DJ spin.

The song still plays, though. It does on the FM dial.

And it gets worse. This song won a Grammy.*

*I know the Grammy’s aren’t held in high regard compared to the Oscar’s or anything, but A FREAKING GRAMMY. Upon realizing, days ago, this song won a Grammy I had to write this.

You may know it. Jamie Foxx croons about blaming it on the goose. T-Pain screeches about blaming it on the ‘tron*. But regardless of where the blame actually lies, the consequences stick. They’ve created, with their song titled “Blame It,” the worst song of all time.

*That’s an abbreviation for Patron, the alcochol. How cool would it be if T-Pain and Foxx instead meant Tron, the movie. Now that would be an interesting lyric.

Of course, that last statement sounds like ridiculous tunebole.* A Google search for the worst song of all time turns up more than 21 million results. VH-1 has crafted multiple shows that highlight musical nadirs. Blender, Spinner and a bunch of other publications with dizzy-sounding names have joined the list of those who have declared a song the worst. Heck, any time a new Black Eyed Peas song comes on the radio someone is liable to call it the worst song ever.

*Joe Posnanski came up with fanbole to describe moments where sports fans greatly exaggerate about their favorite teams. For instance, a K-State fan might say that Ron Prince was the worst football coach hire in history. Consider tunebole the musical equivalent.

All these attempts to find the worst show that there are thousands of bad songs out there, from Kid Rock’s “Only God Knows Why” to Crazy Town’s “Butterfly.” But few of those ruin a talent as good as Jamie Foxx with an auto tune sound scratchy even for auto tune, capture so many rap/ R&B clichés into so short of a song and contain a jarring lack of non-repetitive lines. And none of them do all of that.

“Blame It,” somehow, does. It manages to pull off that impressive feat, and it all starts with the song’s main artist, Foxx.

Jamie Foxx, you may or may not realize, has a legitimate opportunity to win an EGOT. He has the Oscar for his performance in “Ray.” And he has a Grammy, even though it shouldn’t count, for this terrible song.

Foxx could easily turn his attention to Broadway and win a Tony. And who knows, if UPN brings back “The Jamie Foxx Show” and somehow it becomes good and Emmy’s devolve further than they already have, well, OK, that was a bad example. But you get the point. The movie “Stealth” not withstanding Foxx has crafted an impressive resume in multiple entertainment platforms.

Plenty of famous people do this, but they don’t do it well. Like Beyonce. She almost single-handedly ruined “Austin Powers: Goldmember,” and that’s saying something considering the movie starred Mike Myers.

Other examples? Jennifer Lopez. Cher. Mariah Carey.

It’s clear they only get to act because they’ve established themselves as good singers. Or, they only get to sing because they’ve established themselves as good actors. In some cases, like Lopez, they’re terrible at both.

Foxx is different. He’s talented.

He can really act. He can really sing.

Most people probably don’t know if he established himself as a singer or an actor first. Unlike most dual-medium performers, it’s unclear. That’s rare.

So while songs like “Shots” by LMFAO are hideous, they are performed by people who have no discernible talent and therefore cannot be considered the worst songs of all time. Foxx has talent, or at least did, until he threw all of that away when he joined forces with T-Pain.

“Stealth” may have ended his Oscar honeymoon before it even really began, but “Blame It” belongs on another level. This is clearly Foxx’s malus opus. This is clearly music’s malus opus.

In “Ray,” Foxx not only acted like but sounded like the great Ray Charles. He repeated that for the song “Gold Digger” with Kanye. In his other songs, he sounds soulful and smooth, a voice wiser and older than his face suggests.

Here, he sounds like T-Pain.

That’s not exactly something to strive for considering that anyone who downloads an Auto Tune program off the Internet can sound like T-Pain. And that’s where the awfulness of “Blame It” begins, Auto Tune.

Auto Tune, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. It has a time and a place. It gives rappers like Lil’ Wayne an opportunity to jack around and try singing, but it should never be used by anyone with a shred of talent.

In “Blame It,” Foxx’s soulful, recognizable voice is reduced to crackles and scratches, the sound not unlike the bumping and hissing of an old LP.

Of course, a good voice wouldn’t save this song. Neither Foxx nor T-Pain sings anything you couldn’t hear . In fact, they take generic to another level.

You see, the majority of party hits in rap music follow a certain formula. Mention alcohol (not beer, something stronger and more expensive) and mention scantily-clad women (preferably term them hoes), and you have success.

Most artists, though, try to get creative with these references. The songs are about alcohol and women, only they aren’t. Not here. The chorus contains the words alcohol, ‘tron, vodka, blue tap, henny and goose. The lyrics in the very short verses contain references to shots of Nuvo and creative, classy rhyming like “fill another cup what, feeling on your butt what.”

And then there’s this nugget of a line from T-Pain: “Then my pants got bigga/ she already knew what to figga/ looking at her boyfriend like ay, ay, ay, ay, ay.

Don’t understand that scratchy nonsense T-Pain spits at the end? Well, that’s unfortunate. At least a total minute of this song is comprised of scratchy nonsense. It comes when Foxx stutters about a hundred times before saying alcohol in each chorus, and it comes pretty much with every other line T-Pain sings.

But maybe this song isn’t the worst. Maybe this is just a long rant of tunebole.

This is possible because there is one redeeming line in the song. You can hear it a few times because everything is repeated incessantly in “Blame It.”
Just before the chorus, Foxx sings, “see what we could be if we press fast forward.”

It’s a great line; it’s a reminder of what we can all do the next time the song plays.

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3 thoughts on “Someone deserves the blame

  1. Tully says:

    Fine work. Although when I clicked on the link in your tweet, I was expecting a blog post about “Mambo No. 5”.

  2. Mike D. says:

    Two thousand and nine really was an exceptional year in pop music. It had some honestly great pop radio hits (“I Gotta Feeling,” “Bad Romance,” Beyonce’s and Taylor Swift’s contributions; I’ll even give credit to “Party in the USA,” for some reason) and then dreck like this (and “Kiss Me Through The Phone”). Very interesting pop landscape, that year. Did you ever hear the mash-up of the top 25 selling songs of 2009? It’s actually really well-done, and makes these lesser songs at least bearable:

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-top-25-pop-hits-of-2009-all-in-one-terrific-ma,36650/

  3. Rachel Dent says:

    Mark,
    I clearly remember you saying that you loved this song last summer. Maybe you were just joking, but I don’t know….

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