Guilty Pleasure: Cee Lo’s “F*** You”

Guilty aspect number one: I actually prefer the radio edit version to the original. Not because I’m so scandalized by the phrase “fuck you,” but because I like the lilt provided by the extra syllable in “forget you.” Am I alone in this preference? Both versions are below; help me out, folks.

Guilty aspect number two: I like the video, even though it’s full of classic patriarchal tropes, also reflected in the lyrics themselves. As assets, women’s beauty and bodies are comparable to men’s money. Yeah, we get it. Still, I’m feelin the vignettes and backup singers/dancers — what can I say.

Guilty aspect number three: Not so guilty but actually kind of rad, when I first heard this song on the radio and knew nothing about it, it struck me as a genderfucked kind of affair. The singer’s voice seemed androgynous to me, and I couldn’t really tell, from the lyrics and who was being addressed with a “forget you, and forget her, too,” whether a girl had left her girlfriend for another girl, or a girl left her boyfriend for another girl, or a girl left a translady for another someone, or what. So even though I now know it’s a typical script, I still have positive associations of driving my parents’ car, hearing this come on the mainstream radio, and all smilin like, “Are they really playing this so casually on the radio? Neat!”

[Update: Oh, also! The sobbing/singing interlude? Could easily have turned out annoying, but I actually find it very impressive! Musicality and vocal control with the bawling. Nicely done, Ze Lo.]

6 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasure: Cee Lo’s “F*** You”

  1. leorasf October 13, 2010 / 1:08 pm

    Dear Katie,

    hullo! hullo on your blog. I love you and also this song. It’s all awareness, right? So we are aware of this song and its various kinds of effects on us. And we can rejoice in the loud car singing too. I hadn’t heard the Forget You version! & like it. Hi. hi from the beautiful crisp fall days with sun and squashes.


  2. Momin October 13, 2010 / 1:59 pm

    I do know at least one queer feminist who also liked this a lot. Personally, I’m not too impressed. But, do you know Lust for Life, by Girls?

    Or, if embedding doesn’t work,

    At first this really pissed me off. Why is the girl wishing she had a boyfriend? Is the stability and quality of her life determined by the male figures in it (whether a boyfriend or a father)? Why did not having a father make her not “turn out right”?

    And then… well, if you’re seeing/exploring this for the first time, I’ll let you find out for yourself. Hint: it’s nothing to do with the two queer boys, although I did appreciate their inclusion (even if they are still skinny, young and white). Anyway, once I found out it was enough for me to let myself enjoy it.

    But I’ll add that this still has tons of problems, which is why it’s a pleasure that’s still guilty (or at least it was, it gets old quickly). The only people in it are pretty, skinny, young white people who, it seems, don’t have or need jobs. Their biggest immediate problems are not having a tan, a pizza and a bottle of wine, or a beachhouse, and because of this they are “totally crazy, fucked in the head.” Plus, aesthetically, it’s basically an Urban Outfitters catalog in video form, which is charming in itself but in the larger context of the world it is self-indulgent and obnoxious.

    I wish there was more frivilous-sounding music like this, but with substantive political content. How awesome would, for example, Jerk It Out by The Caesars be if the lyrics were actually all political? But delivered in that same casual, offhand manner? Oh and a different chorus too, the chorus of Jerk It Out is really lame compared to the main riff.

  3. Momin October 13, 2010 / 2:13 pm

    Oh and about Cee-Lo’s song: I feel like the appeal of the explicative version hinges on people being thrilled by a transgression that, come on, is hardly transgressive anymore.

    I’ll give Cee-Lo and his producers credit, they do present a word to which we have been thoroughly desensitized in such a way that it does feel somewhat naughty again, but overall it’s juvenile.

    I’m not any more a fan of the radio version; without the attempt to be edgy, I wouldn’t even notice the song.

    I like Cee-Lo’s “What Part of Forever” though. Its repetitiveness gets annoying, but it has such a satisfying melody and delivery.

  4. Roger Nehring October 13, 2010 / 4:43 pm

    Come on, it’s a very good song and it has little to do with”dirty words”, what are we, fuckin’ 1953? I was listening to the Airplane singing ‘up against the wall mother fucker’ in 1967 or thereabouts so big whoop.-

    So far as patriarchal trope, if you do not believe that a great many very beautiful women sell there ass for money you need to check out some modern porn.

    Good post-it was fun.

  5. Momin November 12, 2010 / 7:20 am

    This week he did a live uncensored version on Colbert, too, with the same backing band:—f–k-you

    In a somewhat tangential point, I was struck that this is the first time I’ve seen an all-female backing band for a male lead.

    I’m conflicted because I suspect they are there mainly to be eye candy for the male viewer, but I want to hold it up as progressive gesture (even if accidental) because they are actual musicians, something normally denied to women (normally, women are never allowed to play instruments, with the exception of piano or guitar, and even those they are allowed to play if and only if they accompany singing).

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