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St. Elsewhere [Explicit]
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Gnarls Barkley is the highly anticipated collaboration from Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo. Danger Mouse is one of the most important artist/producers in music today. "Demon Days" sold over 5 million worldwide and Dangerdoom's "The Mouse And The Mask" sold over 100,000 units. Accolades include GQ's "Men Of The Year" honor; Spin's "Eccentric Genius Of The Year", NME's "Hottest Hip-Hop Producer In The World", Entertainment Weekly's "Album Of The Year", Grammy nomination for Producer Of The Year, and more. Cee-Lo is a Grammy-nominated, founding member of Goodie Mob. He wrote and produced the Pussycat Dolls #1 smash hit "Don't Cha", and his two solo albums for Arista scanned over 500,000 units combined. He also wrote hit singles for Ludacris, Common, P Diddy, Trick Daddy, and others. "Goodie Mob" has sold over two million albums worldwide. "Crazy", from this release, is all over UK's Radio One.
In 2006, Danger Mouse is King Midas of the music world. He has an uncanny knack for creating jagged, dense, frenzied beats and odd, eerie, vivid soundscapes that never compromise the music's natural flow. Meanwhile, rapper and singer Cee-Lo, a veteran of Atlanta's Dirty South scene, has never been one to be constrained by hip-hop conventions, and is a willing partner in adventure. The result is an intrepid psychedelic blend of pop, hip-hop, soul, and rock that consistently challenges and delights. It's no wonder that "Crazy," with its modest riff, irresistible hook, and disarming opening line ("I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind") became a worldwide Internet sensation a full six months before the official release of St. Elsewhere. But that relatively simple soul-pop gem is the tamest track on this wide-ranging, often dark and introspective collaboration. (In fact, the duo considers Gnarls Barkley to be a wholly new creation, as opposed to a collaboration of existing artists.) "Everybody is somebody, but nobody wants to be themselves," Cee-Lo croons on "Who Cares?" He and Danger Mouse try very hard not to be their old selves as they creatively and confidently break down boundaries, but the brilliant cores of their musical personae--Cee-Lo's eccentric spiritual soul man and Danger's bold sonic explorer--remain. --Marc Greilsamer
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This is one of two albums that CeeLo Green made under the name Gnarls Barkley. The music is generally gospel in style, but there are attributes of other genres like rap, electronic, and jazz mixed in. The theme of the album is generally silly, and on the surface suggests a fun, wild party, but if you listen to the lyrics closely, there are serious, dark, and sad elements mixed in. I would say the best songs are Crazy, Gone Daddy Gone, and Smiley Faces, but all of the songs are pretty good. There aren't any duds on here.
Though the music is essentially gospel, there are elements of other genres here. The lyrics are rich and fast enough sometimes to make it rap-like. There are a lot of different instruments, though one gets the impression that most of them are artificially generated. Brass instruments, drums, strings, guitars, and others are represented. The material covered in the lyrics is silly in some cases, but it is also serious in others, covering subject matter such as drug use, relationship issues, depression, and loss of loved ones. Highlights that I personally like are the trombone riffs in Storm Coming and the quirky lyrics like "Basically I'm complicated" and "It's deep how you can be so shallow" in Who Cares? and "The production is progressive, but the reason is retro..." on Necromancer. The heavy instrumental accompaniment and the desperate sounding questioning of the lyrics in Smiley Faces really conveys the anguish of losing the trust needed to support a relationship in ways that really captivate me. That contrasts starkly with the really silly songs like Go-Go Gadget Gospel and Transformer.
Finally, in a world where Pop music is very formulaic and homogeneous, it is really amazing and encouraging that Gospel music with a lead male singer made it to the top of the charts. CeeLo's *Crazy* voice, which is high pitched, bright, sometimes smooth and sometimes rough, and sometimes wavering helps to make this album and its artist memorable.
If you are looking for the famous pop songs from CeeLo Green, go for Crazy and Gone Daddy Gone. If you are looking for the sleeper on this album that should have been a huge hit, go for Smiley Faces. Finally, if you want to enjoy this as a full album, you won't be disappointed. There is nice variety in the music, there aren't any duds, and there are some interesting brass, vocal, and sound effect things going on across the different songs.
Then as I was working on the computer with the album playing, the lyrics of the song "Necromancer" caught my attention. My jaw dropped. I went and got the lyric sheet. Somebody please explain to me how this song is "witty" or "brings a smile to your face", as other reviewers have said. Seriously. I don't get it. After searching the net for an explanation, I found an interview which seemed to indicate the "death" or "suicide" in the song is a metaphor - it's not meant to be taken literally. Hmmm. That doesn't cut it with me. As it stands, the song is incredibly nihilistic with a nasty, mean, callous spirit. That's putting it mildly. "Without a care in the world I'm compassionate about killing her.Ahh to have my way with what's Left of the will in her." ""A body in my bed. She was cool when I met Her but I think I like her better dead." "...The cords are of cold-blooded murder"..." I keep her it's cheaper I love her too much To let go." "We discussed over dinner how she would die. Before the day was done. so I caught her just in time to have a little fun...So scream and holler run and play. Wish you could die another day." "May bet she was alright When she was alive."
The song turned my stomach. It is, at the very least, the voice of someone who has no concern or human feeling whatsoever for the woman in the song. It's really very hateful. Do these people (the artists) read the papers? Do they know what happens out there in the world? Would they be so callous about glamourizing what could easily be interpreted as murder and rape (implied - in that murder is sexualized) if their sister or mother had been a victim? How is this okay? Why do people overlook this stuff and just sweep it under the carpet? It's a sick song, and I don't think it is meant to be metaphorical at all - the lyrics contradict the alleged premise (that she is more fun "dead" - indulging in substance abuse - than she is "alive" - without the drugs, etc.) No-one is going to get that alleged interpretation without explanation anyway - it IS going to be taken literally -particularly since the way it is performed punches the more repugnant lyrics and is very jarring and sinister sounding.) I think that explanation is just a cover-up for the artist indulging in some sick fantasy.
Why would you WANT to alienate at least one half of your potential audience? Why would you WANT to sing about something so dark and sick? Does it illuminate anything, is it thought provoking? No. It's just indulgent and a cheap attempt to shock. I guess they think it's cool and hip and "out there" - but personally I don't think there is any cachet surrounding rape, murder and necrophilia. How would they feel about a song glamourizing lynching? No mistake about it -this is a hateful, nasty song and these talented artists should be called out on it.
The long and the short of it is that I was ready to become a huge fan - now I want to get rid of the CD. It's a big disappointment.
Don't tell me I'm overreacting. Listen to it again and put yourself in a woman's shoes. It's just a nasty, mean-spirited, sick song that made me feel hated.
One quibble -- Danger Mouse, please try hiring a real drummer for a change. Sure they're pains in the [...], but they round out the sound nicely sometimes.