I could subtitle this post "Summer Stupidity." In the last couple weeks several friends introduced to me or reminded me of a couple of the world's more ridiculous musical numbers. They're catchy. Yet, in the same breath I can't exaggerate their utter meaninglessness.
First— "I'm at the Pizza Hut; I'm at the Taco Bell; I'm at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." "Das Racist," a Brooklyn based group is responsible for this doozy. What are the lyrics for a majority of the song? You guessed it! I suspect illegal drugs were partly responsible for this song. Remarkably, some people feel this one is a stroke of genius.
I'm at the Pizza Hut etc.
A friend who attends law school in San Francisco alerted me to this song. Apparently Victor Vazquez, one of two in "Das Racist," comes from the Bay area and they have made recurring appearances at a particular club in the vicinity. Wannabe hipster site pitchfork.com has hailed this as the ultimate summer tune. I think they missed the mark. I dub it the ultimate validation of drugs-gone-wrong.
Second— "I'm on a Boat." SNL brings us this fine skit in the form of music video. A special guest appears with "The Lonely Island." This one, contrasting our former number, brims with sundry creative lyrics and a special guest who exemplifies use and abuse- here concerning Auto Tune! The song itself parodies many rap cliches and climbed to the top of You Tube in February 2009. Don't expect to find it there, however- NBC seems pretty diligent about getting its material pulled. Strangely enough, it really takes an effective jab a commercialized hip-hop's all-too-frequent absurd materialism. It sits a few notches up from the previous number on my quality ladder.
When I listen to these songs two things happen in this order:
1. I think of people who argue for "context" as the final determinant in Liturgical Music and those who draw lines quickly. I can't fathom a situation where music that sounds like this could ever be near a Church. However, there's not much to counter this if all that matters is how music "speaks to people" directly. On the other hand, I can't see where people who cast out whole genres quickly make their boundaries. Music exists on a massive continuum. If a congregation sings Tantum Ergo at benediction and Tom Booth immediately follows up with a crashing trap-set for the recessional, this seems perverse. But if the whole Mass was Tom Booth, young people who came expecting this, and most importantly, were edified by it— where's the beef? However, I think these songs show that we can imagine boundaries if not pinpoint them precisely!
2. My brain shuts down.