26 July 2007

He Gets None of Me Love

Hey guys! Don't forget that the deadline for the Simpsons Contest is on Saturday. Keep those entries pouring in!

Now I need to ask a serious question...

How do you feel about Sean Kingston?

Has his music even traveled outside the U.S.? His laughably poor Wikipedia entry doesn't give me any clues about his international reach. It does, however, tell me he uses MySpace to "hit J.R. up 5 times a day."

You know! J.R.

Anyway... for those of you both here and abroad who don't know Mr. Kingston's music, let me bring you up to speed.

He's currently foisting two singles on American radio, and both blend samples of classic hits with a pop-reggae sound. It's sort of like Shaggy, but with fewer references to banging on the bathroom floor.

Of Kingston's singles, "Beautiful Girls" is the most inescapable. If you live near a radio or have ever walked down a street where people play radios, you've probably heard his slightly whiny voice singing over a Jamaica-ed up loop of "Stand By Me."

Missed this jam? Go here.

It's highly likely "Beautiful Girls"--which finds our young hero bemoaning his weakness in the presence of the title characters--will be the number one song in America next week. At the very least, it will be in the top five.

Then there's "Me Love," his even newer song that has started getting played on the radio here in NYC. Rock purists should probably take a seat before I tell you about this one.

"Me Love" egregiously rips off "D'yer Maker" by Led Zepplin.

I remember people foaming at the mouth when Sheryl Crow covered the song pretty faithfully, so I only can imagine what they're doing now. Look out your windows. Do you see fires in the streets? This song may be why.

And I'm not saying "Beautiful Girls" and "Me Love" aren't catchy. They are. The latter is especially so because "D'yer Maker" just sticks in your head. (Oh! Oh-oh-oh-oh! You don't have to go-oh!)

No... I get why the songs are hits. But even for silly pop songs, I find them almost painfully insipid. At least a dumb song like "Barbie Girl" has some irony, and Nelly's "Hot in Herre" has a wicked good beat. Sean Kingston's music just sounds lazy. Like, sub-P. Diddy lazy. There's nothing distinctive about Kingston's voice, and his producer (the aforementioned J.R.) has used the most inauthentic, mall-friendly reggae riffs. They're straight out of a Caribbean Cruise Line commercial, where old white people in floral print shirts dive under "da limbo stick" while white-jacketed "ethnic" servants stand nearby pouring daiquiris.

And remember how I mentioned Shaggy? His reggae pop has about three million times more complexity. Go back and listen to "It Wasn't Me." It holds up pretty well.

For those still doubting that Kingston's music is insincere, I offer these lyrics from "Girls:"

It was back in '99
Watchin' movies all the time
Oh when I went away
For doin' my first crime

Oh it was, was it? Back in '99? Because Kingston was born in 1990. I do not for one quick second believe he was in jail at the age of nine.

"Mark," you say, "Are you suggesting that Sean Kingston is the first teenage pop star to be turned into a total phony by the industry machine? Did you not pay attention to your own post about 'Kids, Incorporated?'"

Obviously, Kingston's not the first offender. However, he drives me especially crazy.

What about you? Do you think I'm right, or am I overreacting?

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At 9:18 AM, Anonymous jared said...

"Has his music even traveled outside the U.S.?"
I don't think so, as I haven't heard of him in Australia since returning three weeks ago, and couldn't stop hearing 'Beautiful Girls' on everyone's ringtone in LA.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger urbnredhed said...

So good, this post. I particularly love the "fires in the streets" bit. Mark, unlike pop-reggae, you get better all the time.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous steve said...

i cannot tell you how pissed i am about that other song where he samples led zeppelin. its about the same amount of anger i got when i heard that shitty song "Let's Go" by all those rappers using the music of Sabbath. the way i see it, if you can't make up any of your own music to write lyrics to them maybe you just aren't meant to be an artist

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous king dubby said...

I think it's interesting that you and these readers are getting huffy about sean kingston sampling a led zeppelin song (which they were likely paid handsomely for), when led zeppelin admittedly set out to copy an established reggae sound when they made D'yer Maker in the first place. That doesn't mean D'yer Maker isn't an awesome song. It is. But anyone who thinks all popular or even unpopular music isn't highly derivative to some extent is ignorant about musical history. Get over yourselves.

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i mean the same thing i thought when i first heard ME LOVE was that this song's beggining is such a rip off! its the same as led zep's dyer maker

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I think this is a really good article... but that might just be because i agree with the author.

Anyways, Sean Kingston does a good job at what others have done for him.

At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

While I must admit Dy'er Maker does lend itself especially well to a reggae sound, that was why it was so ingenious in the first place. It was a departure for Led Zeppelin, it was them being what they consistently were: original! That's why I find it so incredibly annoying and ironic that now some kid can rap over the bass line of a classic and make tons of money. But apparently expecting an "artist" to write their own music and lyrics would be asking a lot. At least he won't ever be able to claim it's his "intellectual property" in Sean Kingston vs. Limewire.

At 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this guy is a talentless theif

At 7:25 PM, Blogger jschmede said...

It's sad you can pay a small fee to legally steal someone else's music and fame. I am outraged by Sean Kingston.

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, his music DOES play outside of the U.S., and is in fact very popular, and so you can't make assumptions based off of wikipedia information or personal opinions. because when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.


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