Myke Johns and Nick Tecosky are the producers of WRITE CLUB Atlanta. In an ill-conceived bid to remain hip and relevant and also to vent their anger and bile at people who actually are hip and relevant, they have devoted themselves to reviewing the #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
For the week of February 3rd, the #2 hit on the Billboard charts is:
I’m sure there are a lot of pop songs about things falling down, but for some reason the first one that comes to mind is Fergie’s “London Bridge.” The only thing I remember from that song is a really loud drum beat and a million autotuned Fergies shouting about their London Bridges going down whenever I come around, wondering why that was, and suggesting through context that she rather liked it. That’s all I remember: drums, voice and that stupid chorus forever seared into my memory, probably in place of some cherished childhood memory.
But this Pitbull song just has way way too much happening. The music video like has this flyover shot of a tropical beach, but there’s a country honky tonk and there’s this incessant harmonica playing like someone’s dug up Junior Wells’ corpse and is just squeezing the air out of him. This is where this idea of the monogenre just fucks up completely because this dance country pop club banger rap song with lumberjack imagery throws everything at the wall and absolutely none of it sticks.
It’s chaotic, yes. But if you look at it from the right angle and squint, there is actually a thread that runs through this. That runs through the bulk of Ke$ha’s body of work. And it’s this: Doomsday is hurrying down. Prepare yourselves. “Timber” is a battle cry! Why else would a tight formation of scantily-clad 20-somethings be entering the bar clutching axes in their delicate hands? To dance? Well, yes, certainly, to dance, and to drink, and likely to “hook up” and “do Molly,” but also, you know, war stuff.
Pop music is always pop music. Dance! Have fun! Damn the consequence! It’s great. It’s supposed to make you forget stuff. But it’s gotten fatalistic. Like we’d better all get our jollies in right fucking now, because shit’s gonna get real bad real soon. Ke$ha’s gotten particularly good at reminding us that we’re likely to die young, so we’d better, you know, dance as if that’s the case. We can’t really change the way the world works, but we sure as hell can burn it to the ground and roll around with the whiskey sweats on the rubble. Future anthropologists are likely to hear all of this stuff and then mistake that rave scene in the third Matrix film for a documentary.
Side note: they keep flashing a bottle of liquor. I assume that this is product placement. The Apocalypse will be sponsored.
The Apocalypse will also be agrarian and entrepreneurial, apparently. I haven’t seen this many farm animals in a music video since Buckcherry last starred in a music video. 1
This song doesn’t just cajole the listener to get up on their feet, it straight up demands that you’d better dance. Like Ke$ha is some sort of Jim Jones figure who has spiked that designer vodka her and her band of cutoff-wearing backup dancers have been pouring down your throat all night and the only way you’re not going to die young is through this horrific tarantella set to the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” rehash that this song actually is. 2
It doesn’t help that she so closely resembles Sarah Jessica Parker in 1993’s Hocus Pocus. Seriously. It’s uncanny. Is it on purpose? Is she supposed to recall one of Satan’s own minions, come to drag you, the listening audience, down into Hell? If so, good call on that one. It only makes sense that the kids who grew up longingly watching Sarah Jessica prance about on the Disney Channel would easily fall under the spell of her boozy, unwashed doppelgänger as young adults. And it’s not a far leap to cast Pitbull- with his craggy good looks and gravel-sexy voice- as the Great Satan, here to welcome you to the sunny shores of Hades: “Oh, you wish to dance, young one? Then Dance! Dance, dance, dance, forever! Also, here are some sharks! Quit crying. Have some more vodka. You brought this upon yourselves. There were other ways to deal with a difficult world. You didn’t have to fall into indulgent escapism. You could’ve started a 501c-3, or a book club.”
And you know what? You really could’ve. If you weren’t so busy brushing your teeth with bottom-shelf well bourbon.
Illustration by Joe Karg.