Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Do I Love This Song So Much? - Rihanna Featuring Drake - "What's My Name?"

Sometimes I fear that I've become a hardened cynic only satisfied by indie rock and underground hip-hop.  This fear of musical snobbery is potentially deep, for as a music fan, I often feel that pop music (or rather what passes for pop these days) doesn't usually reflect the best of what's out there.  Sometimes I can't decide if I'm trying to suffocate my inner hipster or a burgeoning old fart.  But every now and again these fears are proven to actually be unwarranted.

Last week, like many other people, I picked up Rihanna's latest record, "Loud."  I don't know why, but for some reason Rihanna seems to stand out from the pop pack.  She's got her own unique edge.  I will say that Lady Gaga has her own edge, too, but unlike Gaga, Rihanna's songs don't seem drowned in their own production.  Rihanna's songs, yes, possess many of the hallmarks of modern pop music, but they have a human side to them.  These aren't the robotic works of Britney Spears or the  manipulative gimmicks like Katy Perry.

It's been five days since I picked up my copy of "Loud," and I still have not made it through the entire record.  Why?  Every time I make such an attempt I get caught on the second track, "What's My Name?"
Whenever I hear that song, I want to hear it again, over and over!  I'm quickly closing in on a hundred plays according to my Itunes count.  Why is this?  I'm not exactly sure.  Truth be told, I haven't had this strong a reaction to a pop song that wasn't classified as "alternative" in any way, shape or form since probably the eighties.  It's just a great song and it's catchy as hell.  There's warmth to it and yes, it drips with an undeniable not-so-subtle sexuality as Rihanna sings, "Not everybody knows how to work my body. / Knows how to make me want it. / Boy, you stay up on it. /You got that something that keeps me so off-balance. / Baby, you're a challenge. / Let's explore your talents. / Hey boy, I really want to see if you can go a long time with a girl like me,"

Guest rapper, Drake throws any remaining sense of subtlety out the window when he states, "The square-root of 69 is eight-some. / Right? / Because I've been trying to work it out."  There's no denying, this is a pretty obvious song about getting it on.  Rihanna's delivery and the warm synths keep this from being a sterile, robotic exercise. So often, songs like this that are designed to  titillate fall flat in their own self-awareness.  They seem cold and sleazy.  This song, while suggestive and quite descriptive somehow doesn't possess the slime factor.  It doesn't bring to mind uncomfortable, dark clubs with sticky floors and skanky bathrooms.  The sexuality here seems more suited for intimate encounters.  It's seductive but not scandalous. Suggestive, but not dirty.  Maybe it's the bouncy beat and the joy in Rihanna's voice as she sings.  She actually sounds like she's having fun!  She sounds like she is enjoying herself.  So many other, overtly sexual songs sound like a forced show for someone else's benefit.  She's singing proudly about getting her own satisfaction with an unblinking giddiness.

The track keeps the same hypnotic pace throughout until it reaches its high point during the bridge.  This is when Rihanna gets to really sing.  Letting her voice soar, she declares, "You're so amazing. / You took the time to figure me out. / That's why you take me way past the point of turning me on. / You're about to break me. / I swear you've got me losing my mind."  She may be singing about orgasmic amazement, but there's love in her voice.  After all, everyone knows sex and love make a most potent combination.

Sure, I'm not the biggest Drake fan.  I have trouble understanding the hype that surrounds him.  I don't think he is the future of hip-hop and I'm not fond of his delivery style, but at the same time, even when he raises the track's level of crassness, he doesn't cause it to sink in any way.

This track may very well be unsinkable.  A happy, party song that puts a positive spin on sex.  It plays like a better, catchier sequel to Rihanna's hit, "Rude Boy," from last year.  While that song seemed to dish out sexual demands, this one has a more caring glow.  The difference in tone is probably all in the tune itself.

I'm convinced that  the sexuality is not the main reason I find this track so utterly addictive and appealing. (Although, on some level, it very well might be. I am only human, after all!)  I'd prefer to think that it's because of the song's structure and tone. It just seems like a perfect storm of happiness.  The catchiness, combined with the bouncy beat makes for a striking combination.  Synths are all over the track, which in most recent cases would add a layer of ice, but this song seems firmly planted in the sunlight.  It's just, undeniably infectious.  

I am grateful for this song.  It has showed me that I can still be moved (or more appropriately, JOLTED) by a song that is considered pure pop.  Sure, it's sweet and like candy, but it's not sickening.  I can't imagine getting the slightest bit sick of this track.  Of course, I should be reminded that I said this a year from now after the song has been culturally omnipresent.  I sense however that it will not wear out its welcome.  Every now and again there is a pop song that even wins over the people who thought pop was dead.  For me, "What's My Name?" serves as an amazing wake-up call.  It may very well be just as calculated as any other pop tune, but it doesn't read that way.  It feels like a sudden, welcome warm breeze.  The last time I felt this strongly about a pop song it was probably by Madonna or one of the Jacksons!

Watch the video to "What's My Name" by Rihanna (featuring Drake) and see if you agree!


At 2:22 AM , Anonymous DJ COLA said...

You know, if you love rihanna, you will love my dj mixes,


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