Cee-Lo feat. Timbaland — “I’ll Be Around”

Released:

Peak: #52 [R&B/Hip-Hop]

There will be no “Crazy.” Been going light on spoilerish foreshadowing, partly because (shh) I haven’t fully finalized lists for the decade’s later years. But Gnarls Barkley? Just not gonna happen. With its forthright backbeat, its decorative electronics and strings and chorales, and a solid melody that Cee-Lo delivers with unfussy passion, “Crazy” sounded like a hit single right out-the-gate. And yet, as a song, it just sits there in all its inert glory, awaiting a pat on the head for being so well-crafted.

Sad to say, Danger Mouse is one formidably talented drag whose standard M.O. has been to moderate the eccentricities of his top-shelf collaborators. Gorillaz, Beck, MF Doom, James Mercer–DM has reduced the varied gifts of each to a workmanlike competence. And all I’ll say about the Grey Album is that it’s no less ingenious and no more overrated than its two source artifacts. As for Cee-Lo, just listen to how mild Gnarls Barkley’s greatest hit sounds up against the liveliness of “I’ll Be Around,” in which drums tumble out between horn blasts, and a guitar sneaks up behind the voices on the chorus.

But I’m not playing the easy card, that Timbaland > > > Danger Mouse. I’d rather hear “Crazy” than “Apologize,” after all, and I’d rather hear “Closet Freak” than either. But there are songs that should have been hits, and then there are songs you could’ve sworn were hits. “I’ll Be Around” falls into both categories. The song seemed everywhere in 2004, and yet never made the pop charts. Like plenty of fat guys, Cee-Lo’s charm lay in his oversized personality, and part of the excitement in his performance was the danger that he’d slide from ingratiating to overbearing. On “I’ll Be Around,” he teeters perpetually on the brink, and therein lay the fun.

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Comments

  • Chris Molanphy  On June 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Wow — to each his own and all that, but you just lost me.

  • usefulnoise  On June 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I feel like LBJ — “If I’ve lost Molanphy…”

    For serious, though, I don’t *hate* “Crazy.” It’s well-made and -performed and -loved, which is why I’m frustrated by how little it actually affects me whenever I hear it.

  • Chris Molanphy  On June 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I mean, picture a would-be 1990 blog post, in the middle of an ’80s countdown, that began:

    Prince – “Delirious”
    Released: 1983
    Peak: #8

    There will be no “When Doves Cry.” Been going light on spoilerish foreshadowing, partly because (shh) I haven’t fully finalized lists for the decade’s later years. But the Revolution? Just not gonna happen. With its forthright backbeat, its decorative electronics and bassless rhythms, and a solid melody that Prince delivers with lascivious passion, “Doves” sounded like a hit single right out-the-gate. And yet, as a song, it just sits there in all its inert glory, awaiting a pat on the head for being so well-crafted.

    This would be beautifully written and arguable and defensible, and yet…really?!

    (I admit I’m a bit too vested in “Crazy”: http://chris.molanphy.com/pop/?p=170 )

  • usefulnoise  On June 6, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Now that’s some serious Matos-bait! Actually, sub “Little Red Corvette” for “Delirious” and I could imagine someone (not me, but someone) making some kind of an argument.

    But yeah, I think you and I are in serious agree-to-disagree territory here wrt “Crazy.”

    • Florence  On January 8, 2015 at 4:54 am

      Apiiecratpon for this information is over 9000-thank you!

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