3 Aughts-Era Pop Songs I Think Are Underrated: Part 2
FIRST! In defense of Fergie:
Did she ever promise you high-caliber vocals in exchange for your hard-earned money? Did she boast that her version of “People” would make Streisand weep? Did she even once claim that after hearing her sing “I Never Loved a Man,” you would forget that Aretha Franklin ever existed? No. No, she did not.
Is it understandable that she’d have a little bit of the bitchface after abusing meth, and does Kate Hudson have a much worse case of the bitchface without even having past meth use as an excuse? Yes. Yes, it is; yes, she does. If we’re going to let Hudson be famous, we have to let Fergie be famous, too. It’s only fair.
Does she do a pretty good job of being the sex appeal for a hip-hop group, and of being a celebrity in general? I think so. And she managed to land Josh Duhamel for a husband! How many ex-meth heads can say that? This is Duhamel’s first marriage, so: just one.
I can see Ash staring at me in horror from all the way across the internet. Clearly I’m not going to change y’all’s mind on this one. And that’s OK. But I felt like I should say something. She seems like a nice person.
On to the song!
OK, so there’s a difference between dumb lyrics and silly, fun lyrics. Dumb lyrics are unimaginative, poorly suited to the melody, and shamelessly derivative of other hit song lyrics. Dumb lyrics are dumb because it’s clear that no thought was put into them. Silly, fun lyrics are written purposefully to be silly and fun. Dumb lyrics are expected to be taken seriously, because people who write dumb lyrics believe that listeners are dumb. Silly lyrics are expected to be enjoyed for their silliness, because people who write silly lyrics think listeners are smart enough to get the joke.
To illustrate, let’s compare the lyrics from some songs that were big in 2005.
“Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls: “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?/Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? Don’t cha? Don’t cha?” Dumb.
“Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson: “Since U been gone/I can breathe for the first time/I’m so moving on/yeah, yeah/thanks to you, now I get what I want.” Dumb.
“My Humps”: “Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk?” and “You can look, but if you touch it/I’ma start some drama/You don’t want no drama/No no no no drama.” Silly! Fun!
Of course, this is all very subjective and depends on the context and yaddah yaddah, but “lovely lady lumps” is so evocatively crude and delightfully alliterative that will.i.am either had to have put some time into coming up with it, or at least had the good sense to recognize it would be great in a song after hearing someone else say it.
The whole song sounds like they’re poking fun at the way trashy kids flirt with each other. Can’t you picture some jerky high-school dropout with a backwards cap and baggy pants using “lovely lady lumps” when hitting on some spoiled teen princess in a pink Juicy Couture sweat suit in the parking lot of a shopping mall? I can.
And Fergie, terrible singer though she may be, is a good enough performer to really sell her parts with a delivery that’s childish, detached, and slightly annoyed — precisely what you would expect from someone wearing a pink juicy couture sweat suit in a shopping mall parking lot.
Underscoring this derisive tone are cheesy 80s-sounding synthesizers and a beat that sounds like bubble gum popping.
And of course, the coup de grace, the best lyric in the whole entire song, pretty much the #1 reason why I am including this song on the underrated list: Fergie exclaiming “CHECK IT OUT!” while the music breaks. I can’t even tell you why, but this never fails to put a grin on my face.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 3 of this holy trinity.