Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
It’s easy to become jaded over what passes for art in a consumer driven culture. Whether your form is film, music, writing, cars, couches or whatever, there exists a temptation to believe that personal preferences are based in objective criteria and that the broader public is too lazy/stupid/indifferent to venture beyond what Big Media has spoon-fed them. As a younger man I was stubborn and plagued too by the belief that my music was superior to what resided in the Top 40 morass.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” restored my faith in popular music. When I first heard it during a 3am drive I thought, “This is such a great song. It’s a shame that nobody will ever hear it.” I chalked it up to being the sort of song that the last remaining homo sapiens DJ attempted to slip by his Clear Channel robot overlords and felt a pang of sadness for the loss of a song to the late night radio ether.
I almost exploded when “Crazy” popped up again a week later. That’s the song! And then I heard it again. And again and again. “Crazy” became ubiquitous and was as likely to be encountered while lounging at a barbecue as it could be while sipping a latte at Starbucks. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Top 100 list and stayed their for seven weeks. Critics loved it, the public loved it, and the only protestations against it were that it was just too popular. I regard it as one of the greatest pop songs of all time.
Danger Mouse & Cee Lo Green
The popularity of “Crazy” was a hash mark in the poptimist column. It also took my sizeable ego down a notch. I realized that the public could pick a winner and that quality music didn’t stem from age, obscurity, inaccessibility or the fact that I liked it (What can I say? It was 2006 and I was only a year out of college; I had a lot to learn). I went through years when I couldn’t be bothered to know what the song of the summer was, but I take greater joy now in the fact that songs like “Crazy” or “Call Me Maybe” can dominate our collective cultural mindspace. It’s time we find out what song we can’t escape for Summer 2013.