Every month I almost pick “Wake Me Up!” (even the exclamation mark is annoying) by Avicci as the worst song. As I’ve written about before, I HATE the song’s music video. The message in it? Pretty people (we’re talking thin-as-a-rail model pretty) are special. And what do they do? They leave ugly people in their ugly small towns so they can get all kinds of goodies (product placement galore in the video) and dance around at at outdoor rave with other pretty people. This is as far from the integrity and sincerity of wanting to get out of a town for something better — a theme Bruce Springsteen has made a career of — as you can get.
The music video for “Wake Me Up!” is awful, but the song is more a snoozefest than anything offensive. There are worse songs/music video combos in the Top 40. And the very worst is by rapper Pitbull.
Pitbull’s hoedown meets rap song “Timber” has a catchy chorus featuring Kesha. But “Timber” is a dangerously sexist and hedonistic song covering the same icky territory as Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines.” Which is: objectifying women as sex objects and boasting about money and status.
In “Timber” each of Pitbull’s priorities gets its own rap section.
In the first rap about objectifying women our boy Pitbull says he likes his women “face down booty up.” But before that he gets them to do something else: “I have them like Miley Cyrus, clothes off twerking.” And in more of that date rapey she-really-means-yes-when-she- says-no theme he boasts “she say she won’t, but I bet she will.” Ugh.
It’s also ominous when he says “let’s make a night you won’t remember.” What does he mean? Does he not want her to remember anything? Why not? We just know that “at the end of the night it’s going down.” Oh boy.
The second rap is the money part. Well, sort of because “money ain’t a thing” Pitbull tells us. He’s the kind of dude who lives in hotels and he’s “club hopping like Lebron now.” Then he gets his product placement in. He mentions a vodka (natch, it’s in the music video too). At this point does each popular rapper come with an associated own liquor line?
There have been party songs as long as there has been pop culture. But “Timber” has a voracious hedonism which gives it a different tone than party songs from other eras. “Timber” has a disturbing vibe of “I’ll do anything for some release” rather than “I just wanna have some fun.” This is the dark side of pop music now. It glorifies a one percent lifestyle of jets, hotels and available sexual partners. And a desperate hedonism that needs an immediate outlet.
One wonders how Kesha got involved in all this. In the music video she is the fetish object who does many current music video cliches. Multiple skimpy outfit changes, male gaze at the camera, and a confidence that only comes from being the center of sexual attention. It’s up to her to command a lot of this because strangely Pitbull and her are never shown together. He’s on a beach with a beauty, she’s prowling around a country bar and a farm with no apparent partner. She seems to like being looked at more than hooking up with anyone.
Here’s the music video for the song: