Anyone who says any song that came out in 2010 is better than Cee-Lo Green’s “F**k You” is flat-out wrong. And I recognize music is a subjective thing and all that. But this song is objectively amazing. It’s so good that the fact that it’s a Grammy-nominated single with an expletive in its title (and chorus) is not even the most notable thing about the song.
First, there’s the transcendent vocal performance. Cee-Lo, late of the Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, wails out a pitch-perfect breakup song, mixing funny lyrics and believable emotion. The end of the bridge, when he belts, “I still love you!” then segues back into the chorus, that’s… I don’t really have a point to make about that except to say it’s awesome.
The production is sweet, too. The tune is catchy as anything, a modern take on a classic upbeat, summery Motown feel. Nothing fancy, just funky gleeful soul.
It’s so enjoyable and so perfectly poppy that I have to imagine even the parental-advising Tipper Gores of the world would be hard-pressed to react to it any way but tapping their feet and whistling along, ignoring Cee-Lo’s frequent use of the titular four-letter word. Then when it ended, Tipper and her cronies would probably listen to it again, because it’s just that catchy.
And then, the song’s success is in itself a testament to new means of distribution, via downloads and Internet and satellite radio. F**k You could never have become popular on broadcast radio alone because its censored version — “Forget You” — sucks in comparison. Why, if the song is so good and the performance is the same should one little word make such a difference? Because people don’t say, “aww, forget you,” after a bitter breakup. The explicit version feels more authentic, and the juxtaposition between the angry lyrics and the poppy tune is lost when the former are softened.
The song is a monument of awesome weirdness, and its success represents the rare instance when some truly amazing music catches hold in the mainstream. It is nominated for the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Normally, I could hardly care less about the Grammys, but if F**k You wins I’ll gain a lot of respect for the awards.
Oh, and it’s got a sweet video.