This will surprise no one but The Snob hates Lil Wayne with a passion. Not personally of course. I’m sure he’s a swell sort of gross looking dude. Nice by the bundles, but I can’t say I’m a fan. I loathe the overuse of Autotune on nearly every rap/R&B single right now and since Lil Wayne is a chronic offender I am chronically offended by his alleged “music.”
But, this doesn’t mean The Snob is a music snob. I’m a snob about a lot of things, but my music collection pretty much runs the gamut from “look how sophisticated and astute I am” Nina Simone to a “What are you? Twelve?” 99 cent download of the Jonas Brothers “Burnin’ Up.” I can enjoy crappy pop music with the best of them, I just have my limits and Lil Wayne’s ode to fellatio is one of those limits. Not only is the thought of Lil Wayne singing about his ding-a-ling on “Lollipop” gross to me, the whole song gives me a bad case of the Linda Blairs, complete with pea soup spitting action and colorful cursing. But imagine my confusion when I cursed the net and found this cover one evening.
(To see the actual music video, click here, but you have to sit through nearly two minutes of boring kids boring talking about banal, drunken suburban shizz before they rock out with the cock out to some Young Weezy reinterpretation.)
I don’t know who these Flaming Henley people are, other than they look like horrid Fall Out Boy clones, but I was amazed at the mileage they managed to push out of Wayne’s “Lollipop,” taking your standard, rouchy club track and turning it into vintage “cock rock,” emo Def Leppard-style, recalling a pop punk “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”
Back in the day, habitual song murder Pat Boone would have de-crunked the shit out of any sexuality laden bit of black music he shlacked. Boone was known for his ability to easily de-bone and regurgitate “race music” for the skittish, demure white masses. Something for the folks who just couldn’t handle Little Richard’s pompadoured, fey sexual chocolate and fainted at just the mere thought of Chuck Berry’s precious, white girl lovin’ ding-a-ling. But what do you call it when a white, suburban rock band covers classic Negro raunch and keeps all the raunch, just removes the Negro?
The song is still rather gauche, yet different. And you can’t really say they necessarily made it more palatable. The white masses, no longer being held back by their stogy anti-race music grandparents, love Lil Wayne to the tune of millions of illegal downloads. Hell, indie rock internet queen Marie Digby covered he and The Game’s “My Life” practically verbatim in the style of Lilth Fair and it somehow became some flowery folk American paean akin to a Dawson’s Creek-ification of “House of the Rising Sun.”
What seems truly apparent is how much American music, created by whites and blacks, influences one another. How blacks created Rock N’ Roll, how white musicians took Rock N’ Roll and changed it up, eventually creating their own style distinctly different, yet obviously related sound. And when you throw it altogether and actually keep the integrity (as opposed to committing the soft bigotry of lowered expectations that was Boone’s shtick), what you have in the end is the elements of what made the song an attractive song to people in the first place.
People like Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” because it is a sexual fantasy you can dance to, the classic ingredients for a party song. Framing Hanley kept the sex, the fantasy and the dancing, but lost the Autotune, added guitars and some rock bravado I thought was long dead since the advent of Grunge in the 1990s.
Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and the like effectively killed all rock music that was about solely about party penis power, largely because grunge was so serious and Guns N’ Roses, the last arena rock act standing, was not. Alternative rock eventually became a very pop slickened medium, whether pretty boy introspective (The Fray or Coldplay), hopelessly twee (Belle and Sebastian) or whatever the hell My Chemical Romance is supposed to be. (Emo-metal? Melodic punk?)
Rap music, on the other hand, maintained its sex driven streak despite the different flavors of the genre available. You could go for something enlightened or you could go for something gangster, but sex and rap music (just like sex and black music in general) have pretty much gone stayed the same. Never has one ethnicity wrote so many different odes to fornication in so many styles. It’s not that we don’t have other things to sing about, but sex appears to be a favorite topic. While the men of rock were getting in touch with the softer side of Sears, rap music was trying to figure out how they could make the song more explicit. “Lollipop” was a track made for the strip clubs (much like “I’m In Luv Wit A Stripper” and pretty much everything T-Pain sings).
But if Soundscan is to be believed, Lil Wayne’s style of pop is the thing the kids are into these days, regardless of pigmentation, leaving me to wonder:
When you produce Wayne’s pop with only a slight format change, are you creating a revolution in your genre (is this the return of white boys singing proudly about their dicks again?) or is this a pathetic attempt to stand out from the emo pack by hopping on Tattoo Face’s leaf overs? Did they make the song better? Did they make it worse? Was the song beyond redemption anyway, so no cover mattered? Will this take us back to how country and R&B artists would regular cover each others hits because the genres were similar enough to make the song a successful, but the audiences were so far removed that they wouldn’t even know whether you were listening to Buck Owens covering Ray Charles or Ray Charles covering Buck Owens? (Or for folks my age, country singer Mark Wills twanging up some Brian McKnight versus country fans who had no clue who Brian McKnight originally wrote and performed “Back At One?” Or pop/R&B boy band All-4-One’s habitual country track ripping?)
I’m thinking this is a one-off gimmick/tribute to what’s technically hot in the streets. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just the latest bizarre hybrid born out something singularly American pop music.