Road trip radio report: Ladies love me, I’m on my Cool J

Several hours in the 1995 Corolla listening to the radio on bad speakers.

Miley Cyrus “Party in the U.S.A.” Why “in the U.S.A.”?  OK, she’s a Nashville girl arrived in L.A., feels out of place without her friends, feels like she’s wearing the wrong kind of shoes (Nashville boots not stilletos)… But then her favorite song by Jay-Z or Britney comes on and she feels good.  So the suggestion in the refrain is that pop music transcends region, makes a Nashville kid feel at home in L.A. when the song comes on?  I guess this is part of her career strategy to re-brand as a “pop” singer not “country,” to de-regionalize and nationalize her.  As Brad Paisley observes, “It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns” (although that song is #26 on the charts).  Produced and written by Dr. Luke, who lives in the Hollywood Hills and was trying to picture the city from what he imagined a Nashville teenager’s P.O.V. might be.  Very catchy, but I still find the “U.S.A.” reference kind of gratuitous.

Speaking of Britney: Britney Spears, “Hold it Against Me.” “So if I said I want your body now/ Would you hold it against me?”  When she sings this couplet, I have no faith that she’s aware of any wordplay or double meaning.  She’s just saying, “would you hold your body against me.”  Something very characteristically vacuous in the delivery. “Cause you feel like paradise/ And I need a vacation tonight” — slick line!

Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are.” I like “Grenade” and liked Bruno Mars on the Grammys, but I find this song a bit creepy in the way it seems to define female beauty in a context of potential plastic surgery.  “When I see your face/ There’s not a thing that I would change/ Cause you’re amazing/ Just the way you are”: I read this as, “I wouldn’t do even the tiniest nip or tuck, it’s just perfect!!!!”

Chris Brown Featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, “Look At Me Now.” This was our favorite (heard it 3 times I think), Sarah called it the Oobie-Doobie song.  Love the little Middle Eastern drone and the bubbly Theramin-esque synth.  And Busta Rhymes’ tongue-twister Oobie-Doobie rap, which for a while we thought must be technologically enhanced since it sounded impossible for a human being to produce (it starts around 1:40).  “Your girlfriend a freak like Cirque Du Soleil…. Ladies love me, I’m on my Cool J.”

5 Responses

  1. You are a strong man, Ivan. At this stage in pop music history, I essentially won’t get in a car unless I have my iPod. I think of it as protective armor!

  2. I hadn’t seen the Chris Brown video before– is that a Mars Blackmon reference in there??

  3. Mars Blackmon — I must’ve missed that…

  4. –how Chris Brown is dressed, like in “She’s Gotta Have It.” I came back to this post because Dmitri is now very interested in this song, and wants me to show him the video…

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