Friday, January 29, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: Electrik Red doing "Freaky Freaky" (CAUTION: TOO SEXY)

The sound world in "Freaky Freaky" is made up of several things I'm a total sucker for. The opening synth stutter sounds like it was lifted wholesale from Timberlake/Timbaland's "My Love," easily one of the past decade's greatest huge hits. The voices keep doing crazy things, like call-and-responding falsetto "fricky-fricky"s with some electro dude nodding "aw aw", and following THAT up with the overly dramatic "OOH OOH OOH OOH" hook. There's even some cute Prince-like text painting when the morning dove sings "tweet tweet tweet". The whole song is a colorful feast of disparate sounds. Feast away!

You can guess what the song's about, but honestly, the words didn't even register until I read them online. It's all a bunch of "baby sex-stuff" (as Randy Newman once characterized Prince lyrics, positively) like "If my body's a club, you're my disco ball." The most interesting line, apart from the sound fx quoted above, is probably the oft-repeated rap, "Love when the DJ, DJ play my shit, my shit." The line conjures up images of Electrik Red hearing their song and bragging to their conquests WHILE getting freaky freaky. In some interview somewhere, Janet Jackson says it's weird when that happens.

This tune, like most Electrik Red songs, was written and produced by The-Dream with his partner in music, Tricky Stewart. Together these guys are responsible for three of my favorite songs from the last decade: Rihanna's "Umbrella," J. Holiday's "Bed" (which shares "Freaky"'s sense of overwrought drama), and Beyonce's "Single Ladies," for which they should win every Grammy in sight this Sunday. In addition, they came up with the first Mariah song I've liked in a long time, "Touch My Body."

Look at the variety among those songs! "Umbrella"'s an impassive mountain; the song's words are comforting, but it guarantees its promises with the transcendent steely power of its beats and bassline and Rihanna's voice. You're glad to have "Umbrella" on your side, and you sort of feel bad for the rain. "Bed" is all pleading psychodrama, the desperate cry of a man who needs It worse than anyone outside his head can imagine, so he'll say whatever it takes. "Single Ladies" is an almost Spartan contrast to Dream/Tricky's normally stuffed palette; the unusual beat is all*, every element is exposed for observation, with the little random background squiggles just as vital as Beyonce herself. And "Touch My Body" is warm, plush, funny Mariah, just a rung down from the others. I haven't done the math, but that could well add up to a collection of hits as impressive as anyone racked up in the '00s.

*"All" except for Beyonce's voice, of course, and the vocal harmonies, and the massive bassline that shows up periodically, etc...

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