Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, June 22, 2006

One "Crazy" Summer

In the great summer song of 2006 sweepstakes, we have another potential winner: “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.

This insanely catchy slice of psychedelic hip-hop soul currently sits at No. 6 on the Billboard singles chart. It appears destined to hit No. 1 in the next few weeks and stay there through July and possibly August.

A lot of people predicted “Crazy” would be a huge stateside hit after it became the first song ever to hit the top of the British charts based solely on downloads. Big ups to the experts. I, for one, didn’t believe mainstream pop listeners would have the guts to latch on to it.

Not that I don’t love the song. Musically “Crazy” is “a complete Ennio Morricone rip-off,” according Danger Mouse, the mad genius DJ who makes up Gnarls Barkley with rapper/singer Cee-Lo. (Morricone is a film composer best known for scoring Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns” starring Clint Eastwood in the 1960s.) It’s true. The plunking electric guitar, operatic choir and soaring string section are photocopied from the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” soundtrack, and they give “Crazy” an irresistible sense of drama and atmosphere that’s immediately likeable.
But then there’s Cee-Lo’s singing.

When Cee-Lo sings about being crazy and enjoying it, it’s not like he’s saying, “I’m a crazy party guy!” like they would in most pop songs. The dude actually sounds unhinged. “Does that make me crazy? Does that make me craaaaazy?! Does that make me craaaaazy?!” Cee-Lo bellows. Then he answers his own question. “Pah-sib-leeeeeeee!” This wasn’t made in a recording studio. It was made on a street corner by a guy talking to his dirty diaper. The first 20 times I heard “Crazy,” I bobbed my head a lot, but I felt creepy doing it.

Now the song is a hit and I’ve heard it 50 more times and I don’t get that same unsettled feeling anymore. Which is good, I guess. But “Crazy” still has a subversive edge that makes it an unlikely, though very appealing potential summer definer.

By the way, the rest of Gnarls Barkley’s debut album, “St. Elsewhere,” is just as strange, unpredictable and compulsively listenable as “Crazy.” It won’t spawn another hit nearly as big, but it will probably end up on my year-end best-of list.


Blogger paul said...

Great tune and interesting video to go with it.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous cheddar said...

Gnarls Barkley's music and presentation owes a lot to Ol' Dirty Bastard, frankly. Not that it's not good. But if Big Baby Jesus was still around, at the very least he'd be fronting this crew, and at most, they wouldn't even have had to form. Dirty had this niche on lock.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous gavin said...

Well played, Cheddar. But as much as I love ODB, would he have the cojones to remake a Violent Femmes song?

10:44 PM  
Blogger paul said...

f you don't give my football back...

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

song of the summer?

dr.dog : today

4:35 PM  

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