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Day 3.

3 Aughts-Era Pop Songs I Think Are Underrated: Part 3

You’re probably a little bit puzzled that this one is included on a list of underrated songs.  It was about as well received as a pop song could be.  It’s been declared the most popular song of the last decade based on its time and position on the Billboard charts.  And indeed, I remember it being in heavy rotation on several Atlanta radio stations for over a year.  It was the first monster hit that Mariah Carey had had in a good long while.

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve never met anyone who really loves this song — not the way you would expect for the monster hit of an entire decade, anyway.  People like it, they enjoy it, but they’re not emphatic about it the way they are about Carey’s stuff from the 90s.  Even the comments on the YouTube video aren’t that enthusiastic, and nobody’s ever anything less than zealous on YouTube.  Where’s the obsessive, rabid love for this song, you barely-literate psychos?

None of which would bother me if I weren’t so intensely in love with this song.  Hearing that opening piano part on the radio is like finding a forgotten Percocet on a dark January day when I’m about to go to work hungover.   The awed disbelief.  The exultation.  The transcendent joy.  I was wistful when they stopped playing this song on the radio after more than a year.  I usually get tired of something that gets that much radio play after 2 or 3 weeks at the most.

There’s no defending this one, either.  You remember our discussion about Dumb vs. Fun lyrics yesterday?  Yeah, these are unequivocally among the dumbest I have ever heard:

“The feeling that I’m feeling now that I don’t hear your voice/Or have your touch and kiss your lips cause I don’t have a choice….”  Inexcusably Bad.

Further, as many critics pointed out, Carey’s voice wasn’t what it used to be.  Not that this song even showcases any of the vocal prowess she still retained at this point.  She’s practically rap-singing the verses.  She might as well be Ke$ha.

It’s not exactly melodically or rhythmically interesting, either.  90% of the song is 4 piano notes, hand claps, and a bouncing bass.

Except that there’s something about that simple, bold piano part and the steadily intent bass and the overall sense of emotive build and release that speaks persuasively to the part of me that’s never heard an Ashanti song it didn’t want to listen to at least 100 times; the part that compelled me to buy The Writing’s on the Wall as my first ever CD instead of something more respectable; the part that caused me to actually exclaim aloud and then pull the fucking car over the first time I ever heard that “Unthinkable” song by Alicia Keys.  The part of me that wants to make love to the entire modern R&B genre.

I guess it makes sense that I can’t really explain what’s so great about this song; if an experience is truly, immersively euphoric, then you’re never going to have the required perspective to open it up and analyze it.  You’re always going to be on the inside, and that’s just fine with me.

I just hope that Carey and Jermaine Dupri are paying Satan some royalties for his hand in what is clearly pop-music witchcraft.

Coming up tomorrow: It’s a SoCal vegan fast-food showdown!


3 responses »

  1. Alright, now, I am totally one of those people who can listen to this song, without really listening to it. A heard it for the first time tonight and danced through the whole thing, then made me play it 4 MORE TIMES. So you’ve got a fan, there.

  2. teaching the next generation to love mariah! it’s a worthwhile thing 🙂
    although, honestly, this song doesn’t do it for me. sorry, a! i don’t mean to not like all your songs! you could do “cry me a river” and i’d be totally on board with that. actually, can you do that anyway? i love the way you write about music. even when it’s not a song i adore, you always bring up new ways to think about it that make me change the dial much less quickly when it comes on the radio.


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