Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hot Fun - or - The Boys of Summer

Last year's summertime jam, if I remember correctly, was Chamillionaire f. Krayzie Bone's "Ridin'" (I take T.I.'s "What You Know" out of the running because, for me, that one peaked solidlyin the spring According to Allmusic there were two different singles issued for this song, one in December of 2005, and another in July of 2006, which doesn't make sense to me at all, since I first remember hearing it sometime in the middle of May. I remember not liking it, and I can excuse myself for that: it's really not a great song. At the time, mid-May, summer around the corner but technically not yet here, that's what you had to go on. It wasn't immediate like T.I.'s track was, and what ended up being good about it wasn't quite apparent until you had time to digest the track.

Still, once you got into it - the fact that the way Chamillionaire sings "my music's so lou-oud" is fucking hilarious, the ridiculous nature of the whole idea of "riding dirty", and the fact that the lyrics amount to both a "fuck pigs" manifesto and a M.A.D.D. PSA all in one create a perfect summer pop hit, even if you couldn't really dance or sing along with it. Plus, it was a great driving song, which is also of the utmost importance when judging a summer jam.

In retrospect, though, "Ridin'" is just kind of a novelty. John Travolta leaves Olivia Newton-John and goes back to school. If Olivia is Beyonce or, fuck, even Len or LFO, he keeps on thinking about her, and she ends up becoming the slut he always dreamed of. Grease never turned out that way for Cham and Krayzie. They just went on to make Battlefield Earth and become licensed airline pilots. T.I. has stood the test of time, but, again, that technically was not a summertime jam.

Bringing it up to the present, Rihanna's "Umbrella" has made me hopeful for this summer, but I'm doubtful that the song can really maintain momentum through the hot months. Is it really ridiculous and catchy enough? A great track, and probably at the right time, too - it just might be that it won't quite make it past its shelf life. If this was truly the summertime jam, it would be pumping out of every third car you heard by this point. I've only heard it from one, and that was before 9am.

So who's it gonna be huh. Maroon Five can't do it. That's an assertion. What I've heard of Amerie's newest can't touch "1 Thing". R. Kelly just released an album, but generally these things can't be predicted. Chamillionaire was supposed to have missed his window after Houston went huge, and then collapsed back into itself (an event I date at the release of Paul Wall's "Girl" video), but he defied the odds, apparently re-released the song, and made being bored and hot that much more tolerable for everyone.

It could be that the best summertime jams come out of nowhere. I'm looking at you, Baltimore.

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At Sat Jun 02, 07:23:00 PM, Blogger zbs said...

I think one problem with "Umbrella" in this regard is that it just doesn't sound like summer. "Ridin' Dirty" didn't either, but it didn't sound like anything else, either; whereas the sort of metallic sheen that "Umbrella" has makes it firmly a song suited to winters, or nights, at least. Truly great summer songs must on some level be embraceable as some sort of relief in the midday glare. I am inclined to assert that, during the 90s hip-hop schism, the West Coast did not merely appear to be better at, but actually was more fundamentally suited to, the summer jam (please refer to "Summer Breeze" by DJ Quik). And there are myriad examples of summer songs that succeed only by force of their sympathy with heat and sun, and despite their almost complete failure as songs, on which count I will cite "Summer Nights" by Lil Rob, to which I was subjected, first to my discomfort, but eventually voluntarily, for summer '05.

Bonus confusing track: Lucky Luciano "Swimmin Pool".

At Sun Jun 03, 11:48:00 PM, Blogger Doug said...

RE: Lil Rob - Summer Nights

This was the only one of the songs mentioned I was able to find on YouTube. If this had made out to the Midwest I certainly would have stumped for it. In fact, I can't imagine why you would have even resisted it? The ridiculounesses - the namechecking of the chorus during the second verse, the strangely cgied video that, come to think of it, looks like one of them old flash movies than a real music video, and the extremely clunky rhymes - are pretty much necessary to a real summer jam, which is , beyond the points you bring up, another black eye for "Umbrella". Even its mistakes are too serious. Oh, and in case you were wondering about 2003, that was all about Reality's "Yolanda": a cut true to the spirit of Lil Rob, if world's apart sytlistically.

At Mon Jun 04, 02:43:00 PM, Blogger zbs said...

Once I saw the video the mist cleared a little bit. But hearing it first on the radio I was torn between that addictive noise in the hook and the fantastically bad rapping. Only once I had time to digest the charm of it -- as you point out "I grab the mic and am like / hey nothing like those summer nights", along with "right next to the pacific / to be specific" -- did its stupid greatness become fully comprehensible.

Actually it occurred to me, hearing it the other morning, that "You" would have made a very fine summer tune, had it been pushed back several months.

At Tue Jun 05, 03:25:00 AM, Blogger redcommieapples said...

hey doug, I'm assuming you meant what you've heard of Amerie's newest can't touch 1 Thing. 1 Thing is pretty much untouchable but I haven't heard a better album this year than Amerie's. Maybe Rihanna's.

Furthermore, I'd venture that since it's June, we've probably heard this summer's jam already - people had already heard "1 Thing", Gnarls Barkley, and the Nelly Furtado singles way before they became ubiquitous. Right now the buzz seems to be the only thing capable of knocking off "Umbrella" is Rihanna herself with her second single. It perfectly fits the requirement that you can drive to it - it's called "Shut Up and Drive" for goodness sake.

I had my money on USDA's "White Girl" with its ridiculous Christina Aguilerrra shoutout but it seems to have gone nowhere. But in a perfect universe, Natasha Bedingfield's "I Wanna Have Your Babies" would be blasting out of everyone's cars because it screams summer.


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