Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Yesterday was my wife's birthday, so (among other things, of course) I sent her a link to this video. The song isn't really reflective of her specific birthday. "Birthday Girl" is about a girl turning 18 years old and finally kind of being accepted into the adult world (and having adult men legally go after her). The video is a little strange with strange men bringing the girl strange presents hinting at their 'desire' to have her. The only similarity is that it was my wife's birthday.
Plus, we both like the song a lot. When it was first released/leaked to the internet there was an uproar from a lot of fans of The Roots. They were complaining that the song was too pop for them. That including Fall Out Boy was just wrong. And since the band had also recently signed with a major label (albeit a hip hop label, Def Jam) these fans feared that they were going pop altogether to try to get some fame and fortune while they could. I read a lot of comments calling them sellouts. Shortly after, it was announced that "Birthday Girl" would be cut from the tracklist of the new album altogether.
Good thing I downloaded a copy, I thought. I liked the song a lot from the very beginning. It's true that the song doesn't scream "The Roots". It's not something I would have guessed they'd make. But, so what? It sounds good.
Now, I'm not someone who says that these fans that hated the song and spoke out about it are not really fans at all because if they were they would stand by the band. Despite what some think, that's not how it should work. A band or MC I like is not part of my family. I don't have to be there through good times and bad. Why would I want to listen to music I don't like? Why should I force myself? Because I like other songs they have done? That doesn't make any sense to me. I had a lot of people say that kind of thing to me when I said how shitty an album Encore by Eminem was. And, it was.
However, I'm also not the kind of person that thinks pop/radio-friendly music is inherently bad. It's all what you do with it. Is there a point to the song? Is the music and melody good? Are the lyrics good to? Is it original and genuine, or is it just part of a "pop formula" orchestrated by the record label, or the artists themselves to get the attention of the masses? I'm pretty confident to say that only a few of the people that dissed the song and the band just didn't like the song. Most of them didn't even give it a chance. They heard the guitar riff and the Fall Out Boy singing the hook, and immediately dimissed it as pop music trash. A sellout move. That's a little ignorant if you ask me. I think if they bothered to listen to the lyrics and structure of the song they'd see what my wife and I see. A great performance by The Legendary Roots Crew (and Stump). It's a lighter sound than The Roots usually deliver, but it is well-done. It has a topic and meaning. It has substance - the lack of which is what bothers me personally regarding much of today's pop music. And while it may sound 'poppy', it sounds good to me. I will keep this song in my Roots collection forever even if others have discarded it foolishly.