Anyone and everyone by now has heard the latest drivel to have come from the dreadlocked mind of rapper Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What” has been on the top 40 singles chart for over six months. Repetitive and simplistic even compared to the rest of Lil Jon’s catalog, “Turn Down For What” gives me both a feeling of “look how far we’ve fallen” sadness and the strange comfort of a silver lining. It’s the latter of which I want to take a moment to study, because the easiest way to find the humor in something is to grossly over examine it.
Unlike most modern music, even in the EDM genre in which this song falls, there are only two lines of lyrics, hardly one single verse to this entire song. The two lines are simple. “Fire up that loud, another round of shots. Turn down for what?”
Read that to yourself again just for effect. Simple in nature; it’s about getting drunk and loud and asking why you would want to turn it down. If you consider it, it’s really one of the least farfetched things put to music in recent memory. Matched up against the slew of deathcore and screamo bands who do “ironic” covers of hip hop songs, or American treasures like “Stupid Hoe” by Nikki Minaj and “What Does The Fox Say,” which I refuse to link to our of principal, it’s not unreasonable to say that even though “Turn Down For What” didn’t move the music industry a step forward, it at least didn’t move it another step backward. The average song has three verses and a chorus, plenty of opportunity to say something rip-roaring stupid. And if you are as asinine as band like Greenday or Slipknot, that is more than enough wordspace to bring shitty to a whole new dimension. The risk factor is evident here. But a song with only two lines? The statistical odds of setting race, gender or even social relations back any meaningful amount of time is negligible.
If this is the future of music, I’m actually okay with it. Minimal lyrics mean minimal chance to say something retarded, and at that point all it comes down to is the beat, which anyone who gives a shit about their music can create a remotely catchy EDM hook so I consider that to be a relief. Just consider the benchmark of I-feel-bad-for-laughing-at-retards songwriting that is ICP’s “Miracle,” and this new trend in music points toward a potentially bright future, as long as the words are minimal and the beats passable. In other words, I’m not giving Skrillex a free pass, but it could be worse. He could STILL be the singer of From First to Last.
Everyone knew that girl in school who was hot as fuck until she opened her mouth to speak. The crap that’s been dumped out of our speakers the past few years is a lot like that girl. The song starts, the hook builds, and you think to yourself, “Hey, this is kinda catchy.” Then the Neanderthal on the other side of the microphone opens their baboon mouth and suddenly you can’t change the station fast enough.
It is worth noting that the music video is also entertaining, a nice reminder of times when music videos were something other than a band playing their song in a random location. No shit the band is playing the song, isn’t that already implied? Where’s the artistic expression these assholes are supposed to have? Seriously, have you seen a music video in the past decade? Rock music is guiltier than any other genre, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a music video in the past few years that was anything other than the artists performing their songs in a quasi-live shoot run through as many video filters as possible. The one beautiful, beautiful exception would have to be “Stamina” by Vitalic, which stars a fat Lawrence Fishbourne doppelganger taking ecstasy and ranks just a bit higher than “Turn Down For What” in sheer hilarity but leagues ahead of it in creativity. If you need further proof of the entertainment of Lil Jon’s new video, just read how one of the pair of directors for the video describes it:
“For some reason our brains came up with this image, and this other universe where dudes are so pumped up on their own dicks—and they’re so into their testosterone—that the way that they show that is by breaking shit with their dicks.”
Breaking shit with their dicks. There isn’t a man alive that hasn’t dreamed of toppling buildings with their enormous moanmakers. It’s like a gift to mankind that it has now become a viewable commodity, and with only somewhat repulsive music involved to boot!
Don’t get me wrong here folks, “Turn Down For What” is still a shitty song, but the fact that it’s so much less shitty than almost all of its contemporaries coupled with its popularity gives me hope for a new trend in music, one that will alleviate the blood pressure of NORPs and put dipshits like Ylvis out of work. If “Turn Down For What” remains as popular as it is, other people will try to emulate it. I hope they do, and I hope that even for a brief while, we can get respite from the unending tide of terrible, terrible music that assails us every time we turn on the radio.