03 June 2006

Popism #455 : What's my name? What's my name?

POPISM (N) : A musical or lyrical element used in so many pop songs that it becomes a cliche. Often known to evoke joy every time it is employed.

My best friend--for anonymity's sake, we'll call her Starfanie--and I realized we would be BFF when we were driving around listening to Roxette. (I know. SO many stories involve them.) The song was "Joyride," a #1 single in 1991 that was already nostalgia in 1995, when our story takes place. (It's the song that goes "Hello! You fool! I love you! C'mon join the joyriiiiiide...)

We had both been sub-singing along. You know, when both people in the car are kind of whispering under their breath, but no one's really busting out. Then, however, comes the point at the end of the instrumental break when Per Gessele and Marie Fredriksson (the group's two singers) both shout the following:


And Steph... um... Starfanie and I shouted it, too. "ROX-ETTE!" Hitch pause between the two syllables included. It was magical.

Because how awesome is it when singers remind you DURING THEIR OWN SONG who they are? It's so... silly, really. And a little arrogant. And it's the kind of lunacy you can't get away with in daily life. If I finish a review that I think is particularly good, I can't call my editor and, while discussing the piece, say, "Oh, David, did you notice how I used the word 'existential' while descrbing Godot? BLANKEN-SHIP!"

But that's how I might feel. Pop stars (and athletes, to a lesser extent) get to act out that rampant egotism for us all. It's like Per was so pleased with his guitar lick that he just had to remind who made that song his bitch. ROX-ETTE!

Rappers are particularly good at dropping themselves into a verse or two. Snoop Dogg has made a career out of it. Many of us remember his first solo single, "Who Am I (What's My Name)?," and several years later he also unleashed the lesser known classic "Snoop Dogg." The chorus? A sultry-voiced woman breathes, "S-N-Double Oh-P! D-Oh-Double Jizzee!" Not only are we being reminded it's Snoop, we're also getting lessons in spelling and how to speak "izzo." That song sould be offered for college credit.

What are some of your favorite instances of this popism? When do you wish you could use it yourself? Which acts need to lighten up and give themselves a shout out already?

I'd like to nominate Enya.



At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Jason Fitzgerald said...

A few of my favorite instances of self-referentialism (I'm sure there many more):

1) Whitney Houston in "Whatchulookinat"
the lyric: "You try so hard to show the whole world what I do/Now I'm turnin' the cameras back on you/Same spotlight that once gave me fame/Tryin' to dirty up Whitney's name"

2) Anastacia in "Paid My Dues"
the lyric: "Now I'm still trusted every day/people try to mess with Anastacia/gotta nothing in common/
cause I handle mine..."

3) Celine Dion in "Treat Her Like a Lady"
the lyric: after growling "Treeeeeat her like a lady!" at the top of the song, Ms. Quebec White Bread spits out "CELINE!" as though, somehow, she has all the hip-hop cred she could ever need. Amazing.

4) Mary J. Blige in "MJB Da MVP"
the lyric...actually the entire song

5) All 4 girls in the 'Lady Marmalade" remake


Whitney Houston in "I'm Every Woman"
the lyric: Near the end, after a few "I'm every woman's" she says "Cha-kan." One "every woman" letter she repeats the point, just to make sure we got it, 'Cha-KAN!"

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Cathi said...

I had completely forgotten about Roxette until you reminded me with this entry, Mark. Thanks (or curses!) for putting "It Must Have Been Love" in my head all day.

But, more on the subject, I was trying to think of some the most cringe-inducing self-referentialism that I could recall. The Spice Girls and New Kids on the Block each had a song with a Mickey-Mouse-Club-roll-call-like breakdown. And I'm sure there are many other "girl groups" and "boy bands" with songs that contain these roll calls. Way to expree your individualism, girls and boys. You aren't just another member of a manufactured pop band styled to fulfil a quota; you're an individual.

Oh, and I agree with Jason about the awesomeness of Whitney's shoutout to Chaka Kahn at the end of "I'm Every Woman."

At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Starphanie said...

"My name ain't baby. It's Janet. Miss Jackson if you're nasty."
Hmmm...The sage words from a pre-Nipplegate Janet Jackson.

And in the true spirit of popstar rivalry, how about Paula Abdul's "Vibeology"? "Go Paula. Go Paula. Go, go, go Paula!"

Technically, I think that "Ice, Ice Baby" falls in this category as well. "Too cold, too cold!"

Basically, anything from Kris Kross, MC Hammer, and Beastie Boys can fit into this mold, too. But, you already mentioned the whole rapper guy influence.

Hey, thanks for the mad props, Markie! I'll be whistlin' that tune all day!

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Christy said...

I can't BELIEVE no one has mentioned this one yet...
"They call me U-S-H-E-R-R-A-Y-M-O-N-D.. Baby tell me what you want to do to me." Usher, quite possibly, solely lumps the terms "baller" and "musician" into one person... one entity that is now, simply, just USHER.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous katy said...

I always liked the 69 Boyz shoutout at the beginning of "Tootsie Roll." That one is also good because they helpfully provide us with the year ("1994, y'all").

This is particularly nice when you're playing Billboard chart trivia games -- year and artist, right there for you. (Although one always must have enough of a base knowledge to know that the song actually charted in 1995.)

Similarly, not only does the Escape Club identify their single "Wild Wild West" as a late-80s chart-topper ("heading for the nineties, living in the wild, wild west"), they give themselves a mystifying shoutout in that song's "rap" bridge.

I have puzzled this shoutout for many years, as the only thing I can clearly identify is the band's name. It sounds like this: "ill come it's Escape Club, to rock it tonight." Can that be correct? What do they really say? Apparently not even the many lyrics sites I just referenced, as they skip the "rap" bridge altogether.

Evidently the important thing is to get the band name out there. Let's face it -- especially if you're the Escape Club.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Ryan Dubbs said...

A personal favorite of mine is Ice Cube's "You Can Do It." At the onset of the track, he decrees: "Ice Cube, baby. '99, baby. I'm on the grind, baby. All the time, baby."

What I like about this is that Cube (if you will) immediately sets up his platform for us. We know the Who (Cube), When ('99), Where (On the grind), and Duration (All the time).

With that setup, Cube can go anywhere. He crazy.

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Kalle said...

Haa, my name is, Mmm, my name is...
anyways. You hinted there are many stories involving Roxette. Why haven't I heard any of them? I wanna know! Is there something special about Roxette, or what? All in all, their lyrics are very silly, but I must (ashamedly) admit that I like some of their songs.

An ex-gf of mine had to always sing along "spending my time" and she didn't react to anything I said before the song was over. Weird, I say.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Mark Blankenship said...

Holy crap! I LOVE "Spending My Time!" Even to this day, I think it's really beautiful. I'm a total geek for Roxette.

Another story that involves them? One of my best friends (and current roommate) and I had our first conversations because he overheard me jokingly call them "The Poets Laureate of the 20th Century."

I think I gave them that title because of the unstoppable depth of the line, "Lay a whisper on my pillow. Leave the winter on the ground."

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Sophie said...

It's gotta be Busta, who manages to get his squad into almost every song. C'mon FLIPMODE SQUAD, 98, RAW DELUXE, CHECK IT OUT Y'ALLLLL

Also props to the Spice girls for a whole explanation in Wannabe: We got Em in the place who likes it in her face, G like MC who likes it in her ** Easy V doesn't come for free she's a real lady and as for me (Mel B) aahhh you'll see!


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