Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Glamorous Deconstruction Under My Umbrella

The other day as I was driving to work, the ridiculously stupid radio station I was listening to treated us listeners to a ridiculously stupid news tidbit.

The story involved a man who was driving down the street when the police asked him to pull over because they suspected he was intoxicated.

They thought this because he was driving very erratically.

On his tractor.

While drinking from a can of beer.

Which he pulled from the case of beer he had on the tractor with him.

And when the police asked him to pull over, he "took off," trying to get away.

Except because he was -- right -- driving a tractor, he wasn't going very fast. And so the officers were able to catch up to him.

By walking.

Ah, morning radio. How you tickle me.

(BTW: I went in search of the article to post here, but couldn't find it online anywhere and didn't want to spend too much time looking up variations of "drunk tractor man police foot" "man drives tractor beer" and "intoxicated case of beer tractor pull over.")

Now that I'm commuting, I try and listen to NPR-related stations (KQED mostly) as much as possible. But sometimes, like in the middle of the 3rd week of the pledge drive, I can't take it and have to listen to something else. Anything else.

Which is how I discovered the fantastic inanity that is:


(Also? I find when blatantly stealing images from corporate websites,
it's best to include the little TM, because that totally makes it more legal. What?)


Now on my way to work, in between hearing heartbreaking stories of Burmese monks being slain for denouncing violent governmental anti-democratic crackdowns, I can tune in to these two cheery pieces of ear candy --


This is Balthazar and Lisa.

Because they will tell me about great tractor escapes and dissect the finer points of Britney's hair. Because for all its worldliness, NPR hardly ever mentions Dancing With The Stars, and how else am I going to have something intelligent to say about it?

But anyway, as you might suspect from the catchy name of the radio station, "Movin" plays only dance-y stuff. Stuff to get you "movin." [Note: it does NOT play songs to get you "movinG." Because movinG is lame and totally something soft-rock listeners would do. LOSERS.]

So for the last few weeks I've been listening. And I have come to the following conclusion:

Fergie's song "Glamorous" is really, really stupid.

Now, it's not like me to go and have a negative opinion about something so ridiculous in the first place. Mostly I'm like, let the stupid be stupid and SO WHAT if I work out to Kelly Clarkson remixes?

But somewhere around the 3219th time I heard the Glamorous song, I decided it didn't really make any sense. At once, Fergie is both celebrating the glamorous life and denouncing her involvement in it. And somewhere from deep within my English major soul came my sad realization that the song is lacking a distinct point of view. Its logic doesn't hold. And when I allowed myself to really internalize this realization, well.

The whole song just came apart for me.

Dancy pop songs should be simple, and involve only one basic concept. Like the current Rihanna hit, "Umbrella." This is not a complex song, and it's not trying to be.

Although truth be told, I'm not sure why I, too, am not making a gagillion dollars by taking a single three-syllable word in the English language, stretching it out to be four syllables, and then repeating it five hundred million times.

In case you're unfamiliar, the chorus of this little ditty goes:

You can stand under my umbrella.

That's it. That's the chorus.

Well, except you have to pronounce it "um-ber-el-la," and then go "el-la el-la" and then add "eh eh eh" just to make the word last long enough to make sure Rihanna can pay her mortgage. (I'm pretty sure that extra "eh" paid for her second summer home.)

So yeah. I could totally come up with something just as catchy. Like, um:

You can unleash my Chihuahua.

Awesome! You can pronounce it "Chi-HU-ah-hua" and then add "hua-hua hua-hua, ah ah ah."

And you know what? "Unleash" is a way more active and interesting word than "stand." Plus? "Unleash my Chihuahua?" How double-entendre is THAT? Or more than double! I could mean ALL SORTS of things. Am I saying "unleash my yappy dog who's currently tied to the parking meter outside the grocery while I run in to buy some yogurt and a pack of gum?" Or am I saying "unleash my shaky-but-ocassionally-ferocious-inner-canine. Barkbark!!"? Who's to say?

Also, Chihuahuas are NEVER featured in songs (unlike stupid rain) so I think I've already I've written a better and more interesting song than Rihanna and I did so BY MISTAKE.

But I have digressed.

Simple concepts -- from umbrellas to chihuahuas -- work.

Whereas convoluted or contradictory messages are dumb. Thus, Fergie's song is dumb.

Begin Needless Deconstruction


Glamorous begins (with a little help from Ludacris):
If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home
You say: If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah
G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

To me this says, "If you are poor, you are not glamorous. And you need to go home."

And okay. I generally agree. I think that broke ass people should stay home, what with how it helps save money and all.

But here's where I take issue: if you're so damn glamorous, why are you spelling the word? I'd think that if I were so super-glamorous that I didn't need to pay attention to things like grammar, I wouldn't really have to pay attention to spelling, either. And if I did, I'd have someone do it for me. Like my butler.

Anyway. We move on to the first full verse. Which is also sort of the chorus.

We flying the first class
Up in the sky
Poppin' champagne
Livin' the life
In the fast lane
And I wont change
By the Glamorous
Oh the flossy flossy

So okay.

"We" are flying first class -- in the sky no less -- and drinking champagne and all that, AND YET "we" are unchanged by the glamorous.

Hard to believe with all that champagne getting in the way.

But also? Remember that time? When in the first line she sent someone home for their broke-ass-ness? That does not seem like something an "unchanged" person would do, you know?

The logic. It is not there.

Now, I will admit. When I first heard this song, I was also ready to rail against Fergalicious because I thought she was saying, "Oh the FLOUNCY, FLOUNCY." And I thought she didn't know what the word meant.

Turns out, she's saying "FLOSSY" and it was I who didn't know what the word meant.

[Sidebar: Ish read a draft of this ("it's too long") and got to this part and said, "You didn't know what flossy meant? Like, THE FLOSSY??" No, mister 39-year-old white business dude, I didn't. WHY DO YOU?]

Apparently "flossy" means "over the top bling."

And I guess I feel much hipper knowing this, except of course I don't have any idea how to use the word in a sentence. Is it "THE flossy"? And if so, is "THE flossy" people? Or is "THE flossy" the bling itself? Like, am I wearing the flossy? Or did I invite the flossy over for drinks? Can I just own "flossy"? And is it ever like, an adjective? My word, but that's a flossy necklace you're wearing*!

Personally, I think instead of finding stupid filler words, Fergs should've just gone with "Chihuahua." Now THAT would have made the song come together.

Anyway, the song takes us into the official chorus, which goes -- and I quote:

The glamorous
The glamorous
Glamorous (the glamorous life)
By the Glamorous
Oh the flossy flossy

I'm not sure how long it took Fergacious and her butler to come up with these lyrics, but I am not exactly impressed.

And anyway, what I don't get is...well... what is she even saying? Is glamorous good? Bad? Is SHE glamorous? Are WE? Is someone ELSE glamorous? Where is all this glamorous coming from?

Or like, is the point that glamorous something that just IS? Because whoa. That would be zen.

But now we really get into the meat of the song.

See, up till now, we've mostly heard about how glamorous the glamorous is. But here we go in a new direction and you're like, wait, what?

Wear them gold and diamonds rings
All them things don't mean a thing

[I forget. What's it called when you rhyme a word with another word that doesn't totally rhyme but has the same vowel sound? Assonance? Okay, then. Well, what's it called when you rhyme a word with the SAME word? Like, say, "things" with "thing"? I can't seem to find that anywhere.]


Chaperons and limousines
Shopping for expensive things
I be on the movie screens
Magazines and bougie scenes


You do be? Musta missed that.

But Fergie? Remember how I had to look up what "THE flossy" meant? Now it's your turn. Tell me what "bougie" is short for, and then use it in a sentence. And then I'll give you a million dollars if you can put it in historical reference.

Anyway -- here is the crux:

I'm not clean, I'm not pristine
I'm no queen, I'm no machine
I still go to Taco Bell
Drive through, raw as hell
I don't care
I'm still real
No matter how many records I sell

I believe that Fergie is implying that by ingesting raw Taco Bell, she is still in touch with her pre-glamorous side.

When Bill Clinton was in office, he sometimes ate McDonald's. This did not make him not the President of the United States. If you know what I mean. Going to Taco Bell doesn't make Fergie any less hateful. Especially since she casually reminds you, in the same breath, that she's sold tons of records.

(I also think it's kind of amazing that I mentioned a Chihuahua and now we're at Taco Bell. It's like foreshadowing, except dumber.)

After the show or after the Grammies
I like to go cool out with the family
Sippin', reminiscing on days when I had a Mus--

--tache? I totally ALWAYS think she's about to say she reminisces about the days of having a mustache. And THAT would have taken the song in a whole new direction.

Instead, she used to have a Mustang. Yawn.

In the next part of the song we hear from Ludacris again, and he goes on and on about how rich and famous and special their lives are. After which, Fergs returns to spelling, and then the last verse is her bitching about how cruel the industry is.

(Oh yeah? Spend a day in the blogosphere, babe!)

But again I'm left asking: Which is it? Is she glamorous, or is she real? Does her penchant for Taco Bell outweigh her Grammies and "half-mil in stones"?

Answer: IT DOES NOT.

She should have stuck to singing about being glamorous and left it at that.

It's not like other pop dance favorites haven't taken on being self-referential. Plenty of others have sung about their fabulousness -- without complaining about it -- and as a result, their songs didn't suck.

Exhibit A: MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This
Lyrics here.

In this insta-classic, MC is thankful for his talent. He, too, is self-referential. He, too, speaks of THE flossy (in his case, his flossy = his pants).


But he doesn't whine about how real he is, despite how unfortunately glamorous his life is. No. He's all like, yeah, I'm a fucking rock star. Look at my pants.

Message: I rock. You U suck.


Exhibit B: J.J. Fad's Supersonic

I bring this up because not only do they know that they are awesome --

Everybody knows that J.J. Fad is devastating
We know you like us girls so you better get steril
'Cause we are the homechicks that are rockin' your world


-- but because they also spell. And then they explain WHY they are spelling.

The S is for Super and the U is for Unique. The P is for Perfection and we know that they are freaks. The E is for exotic and the R is for Raps. So tell those nosy people just to stay the hell back.

Supersonic.

And then? Somehow? They bring up a llama.

Yes, a LLAMA.

Lyrics are here (Note that you can download a complimentary Supersonic ringtone!)

If you ask me, a llama (ah-ma ah-ma) isn't too far from a Chihuahua.

Message: We're badass, we know it, we spell it.


So Fergs, whaddya think? Maybe next time you stop trying to be deep, you stay away from spelling, and you incorporate an exotic animal of some sort. Yeah?



I definitely think you should try it.


Yo quiero el flossy!





*I do not know why I became my grandmother in this example.

29 comments:

  1. In all my semesters of teaching beginning college writing, I would have loved to get an analysis like this one. Unfortunately I didn't. Where were students like you at the community college in Lancaster, Texas?

    ReplyDelete
  2. i still can't get past the fact that she is hot tho the song is played out i actually called the radio station once and asked y they only played the same 8 songs all fucking day long, the dude got butt hurt and told me i had no clue about the billboard charts and that they were a top 30 station, that was great where the other 22 fucking songs? first time reader ill be back as i feel myself being sucked into the blogosphere

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm guessing that "bougie" is short for "bourgeois." As in, "My parents think they're upper-class because they just bought a fucking time share, but really they're totally bougie."

    I apologize for the swear word in that example but I'm very tired and lack impulse control even more than usual. How tired am I? So tired that I read "heartbreaking stories of Burmese monks" as "heartbreaking stories of Burmese monkeys" and wondered how, exactly, Burmese monkeys were denouncing ... well, anything, much less violent governmental anti-democratic crackdowns. I'm also so tired that I can't put "bougie" in a proper historical context even for a million dollars.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was a hilarious post. It's so sad that talent and marketability are mutually exclusive in our modern music world.
    Check out www.urbandictionary.com if you haven't already. I go there to learn to translate the local Cretin patois when I have to. There are several explanations for "bougie".

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious! As always. I would pay money to hear you explain that spice girls song with the ziggy ziggy zaggy zo.

    I didn't know what the Flossy was until you explained it to me. But I am EXCEEDINGLY white and lame.

    (And now I will have that supersonic song in my head for DAYS. Thanks a lot!)

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is a great post. You made me laugh AND I learned two new words - flossy and bougie. Now if only I can use one or both of words in my exceedingly straight life without looking like a complete tool. Don't like my chances.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I became unable to concentrate after 'flossy flossy' you see in my former career in veterinary medicine - "flossy" was our euphemism for a patients girlie parts.. after 15 years - there's no changing it. I'm glad I haven't heard this delightful piece of musical and lyrical mastery.

    JC

    ReplyDelete
  8. Okay, so I think I have you beat on the "flossy" thing. First of all, I thought she was saying "flopsy" and, um, what?

    Then, at some point I proved to everyone I know that I am whitest person they know when I asked my friends about J. Lo's "Love Don't Cost a Thing" when she says "...If I wanna floss I got my own..."

    I couldn't help but wonder (unfortunately, out loud) about why she would want to be with such a man. I mean, yeah, love doesn't cost money, but she can't even use a little of his dental floss? And, what does that have to do with a Mercedes?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hilarious! I pretty much hate anything Fergie, so that was a good treat on my lazy sunday of catching up on blogs.
    J.J. Fad was awesome. Too bad they only had one song. I still remember walking home with my best friend in the 9th or 10th grade singing the whole song at the top of our lungs. Wonder where she is now?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Longtime reader, first time commenter.

    I couldn't leave this one alone. When I started reading this post about Fergie's song, I thought to myself, I have to comment on how I always think she's gonna say "MOustache", then I get to that part and you think the same! You are right on. My kids love this song, they always get a kick when I sing "Moustache" instead of "Mustang".

    Can't I say I think this is the best post ever. Thanks for the laugh. And the education, I'd figured out bougie, but flossy, I thought she was saying flouncy too. I'll have to scope out someway to drop flossy in a sentence around my peers and baffle them!

    Kyls

    ReplyDelete
  11. BTW I meant "Can" not "Can't" in the beginning of that second paragraph.

    Kyls

    ReplyDelete
  12. i'm too busy laughing my ass off to come up with a coherent comment...

    i guess that's not flossy. or is it?? i still don't know.

    nicely done, kiki.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Flossy.

    That was the name of my grandparents' big ole milk cow waaaay back... on a farm in Ohio....

    I see she's made a comeback.

    Life is wonderous.

    ReplyDelete
  14. oh, I guess it's not the Duchess of York then. Really really hard making those lyrics sound right in her accent.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "...llama ( ah-ma ah-ma)..."

    That just made me spit beer onto my computer.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This post explains exactly what I think about Fergie's song. I never understood what exact message she was trying to get across. It's almost like she was pulling a J-Lo "Jenny from the block" on us, but dropped out at the last second. And I'm convinced that she DID say moustache in the song, but her producers said that would send the wrong sort've message to the world and that mustang would be more appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  17. i always sing moustache too!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. De-lurking to say that I see the other commenter's beer-spitting, and raise him/her a coffee-spitting, over "It's kind of amazing that I mentioned a Chihuahua and now we're at Taco Bell."

    Terrific post.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Best post since...the booze pyramid? You're on a roll kiki, f'in hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hilarious! Love the way you disected both songs!

    ReplyDelete
  21. This post puts all that I have been feeling about this song into words for me. As some of the other people mentioned, it is a jenny from the block copy!

    Also, K, no one uses bling anymore (or so I'm told)
    My sis explained to me in the following words:
    a cadillac SUV is pimpin'
    but a bentley phantom is flossin'

    right then.

    ReplyDelete
  22. commerical FM radio is a vast wasteland... except for NPR, you'll need to pry that preset out of my cold, dead hand. long live XM.

    ReplyDelete
  23. thanks so much for this - it totally brightens up a Monday morning...

    I DO have to say though...even though I haven't heard the song...isn't she saying she's not going to change FROM being glamorous? Rather than being glamorous isn't going to change her? I mean, she seems pretty into it, with the flying in the air and everything, so why SHOULD she change and not be glamorous?

    Just my two cents. Thanks so much for a great post, as usual! So glad to have you back on a more regular schedule :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. And I meant to say...would you believe the Umbrella song was originally meant for Britnet Spears but she was going through her crisis & never got back to the songwriter. The song then eventually went to Riannah, when her people came knocking! I know you're now imagining Britney singing this!

    Maybe you should do a what if Britney sang this post.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I too had been wondering what flossy meant but just assumed Fergie was making up words when she couldn't find a word that fit.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This post has just caused me to convulse silently at my desk with chuckles. I am a little bit in love with you now.

    ReplyDelete
  27. If you are even slightly irked at the spelling of G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S in this one... try being the mother of an (almost) 3 year-old who is in love with Fergie's "Fergalicious," where a good part of the song is spent with the background singers/rappers intoning:
    To the T!
    To the A!
    To the S, T, E Y!
    Girl, you tasty!

    I'm already preparing myself for the flunking of Ella's first spelling test, and having to explain to her teacher why on Earth we thought playing "Fergalicious" so often was a good idea in her formative years. Oy.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oooooh my god. At my summer camp, Bunk 1 had a cheer that went:

    S is for super, the U is for unique, the P is for perfection cuz you know we can't be beat. E is for exotic and R is for [mumblemumble], so tell Bunk 2 to sit the hell down.

    Super Seniors!


    You just opened my eyes to the historical and cultural meaning behind our seemingly benign taunt. I feel like I've been living a lie.

    Also, I always wondered why a bunch of Jewish girls from Long Island were calling themselves exotic.

    ReplyDelete
  29. so i just had to say one thing about Fergie's song... when she says 'raw as hell'... it's not referring to the TACOS BEING RAW. it's referring to a woman going out 'raw as hell', ie no makeup, not dressed up nicely, pretty much just as you are. :| good effort though.

    ReplyDelete