Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

FEMM – Fxxk Boyz Get Money

See, Mat, we do take reader suggestions!


Patrick St. Michel: FEMM have more or less ignored Japanese audiences, whether because they see this as a general hindrance or because they’re just the first outfit to realize their home country’s music market is fucked. And it’s worked — “Fxxk Boyz Get Money” has turned into the minor-blip Internet hit that gets the content machine chugging, and this pretend-mannequin duo have achieved the rare feet of going viral internationally. Yet unlike Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or Babymetal, the other notables of the last couple of years, they are practically unknown in Japan, and that’s on purpose. “Boyz” is sung entirely in English, and full of references few casual consumers would pick up on (Shane Victorino????), all while splattering EDM and hip-hop together into a fidgety sound. The actual music — written and produced by LA’s Patrick Lukens — is great, its refusal to sit still making it far more interesting than most EDM-pop (and that soft breakdown!) Isolated, “Boyz” is a good song with a nice-enough message, but I can’t shake how cynical the whole project feels. There’s no shortage of songs like this in the Western world right now, but nothing really like it in Japan. If FEMM made music like this, heavily lauded for its empowering message overseas, for the J-pop crowd, that would be a grenade thrown into an extremely static scene.

Alfred Soto: Vibrant and kinetic, sporting a solid title hook, its vocal filters nevertheless put me at a distance, and the middle eight stops the song cold.

Iain Mew: Being a duo of supposed animated mannequins looking to convert the world to your cause is a gimmick that doesn’t lend itself to an obvious musical identity like idol pop plus metal. FEMM, though, have achieved an uncanny valley feeling to their songs that’s all too fitting. They sound almost like transplanted Gaga/Ke$ha songs of 2010 (plus in this case a big helping of hip-hop-via-2NE1 attitude, best seen in “Gimme your number, I’ma give that shit right back”/“put a number on this paper but I throw like a frisbee”), but in the time machine teleporter that’s brought them here, something strange and eldritch has happened. The plastic sheen is a bit too shiny, a bit too obscuring of anything underneath, an alienating effect exaggerated by the first-language-posing-as-second-language lyrics (courtesy of a former American Idol contestant). The uncomfortable weirdness is an A+ conceptual follow-through, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to it any more. 

Thomas Inskeep: “Go back to Mommy and your Fisher-Price toys” is a reference so specific that I’ll tack on an extra point or two for it; I was raised on Fisher-Price toys. As far as the song itself, it sounds as if it was created in a lab by an evil J-trap genius. Addictive like meth, delicious like Japanese scotch, and nasty as they wanna be like 2 Live Crew, this is the whole package. 

Will Adams: Every time it seems the song has settled into a groove, it uproots itself and dives headfirst into even more sonic bananas. The deadpan “wow”‘s that punctuate the second chorus are my favorite part; when confronted with the dizzying sirens and the octave-jumping delivery of the title, there’s no reaction more appropriate.

Maxwell Cavaseno: The age of candy-corn pop-rap is far from ending, and “F**K BOYZ GET MONEY” was the anthem before even this song emerged. This song isn’t a grand unearthing so much as a cynical cash-in on a vibe that’s been brewing all over the land, and fuck it, let the girls get money, let the boys get ethered. This beat, however, reflects a lot of the issues with pop maximalism; those crunches can’t seem whether they want to go for the danceability of normal folk getting down or turn into the twisted industrial stomp of British Murder Boys. It’s intriguing as all hell, but it lacks a certain patience to fall into a groove to trap the listener, so rocky that it can toss you out like a mechanical bull. We can use a fascist groove thang, but only if it remembers it WANTS to keep you in there.

Anthony Easton: Is the ghostly wail throughout this a modulated organ, or the haunting of late capitalist decadence? 

Katherine St Asaph: I have never been able to work out my stance on fake-real-fake pop — a horrible perversion of Tom Ewing’s taxonomy I just mentioned, unless you think of it as reassuring press-release parentheticals: “It’s fake, don’t worry! (But wink, it’s real!) (But it’s fake, don’t worry.)” Why do I love the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack and mostly like FEMM, but think “Hey QT” and Nadia Oh are molten rotting garbage? A couple factors, I guess. I haven’t found any insufferable press releases by FEMM (and was too young to care to look for Josie’s). “Fxxk Boys Get Money” is still listenable; the beat is a “Taking Over the Dancefloor” stomp, but this time it’s got earthquaking bass on the chorus, a real chord progression and real melody that isn’t too chopped-and-pixelated to work as pop. Then there are the intangibles, like the way this sounds nostalgic for bad cell-phone speakers, or the way the title can read as “fuck [forget] boys, get money” or “fuck [do] boys, get money,” or even “fuckboys get money,” all of which a certain stripe of music fan will find dystopian and shed delicious tears.

Brad Shoup: You know, I have always thought Shane Victorino was kind of a fuckboi, and he did get his, after all. FEMM turns an OK slogan into a sonic weapon by upturning the first couple words: it’s almost like a rhetorical question. I dunno if it hangs together as a song — does the moving-on R&B bridge really have a place here? what’s the Atlanta connection? — but the beat ruts and the hook slices.

Tara Hillegeist: Oof. This is ugly, misshapen, and unimpressive. Part of FEMM’s joke, of course, is presuming the audience doesn’t deserve better — which is fine if you assume the audience is solely fuckboys, or that the joke’s funny enough outside that context to be worth getting in on for any other reason. As it is, this is what I hear: Nicki Minaj also-rans with none of the restless need to turn a track into a sonic Mandelbrot that makes Nicki’s best electro-massacres hysterical and exciting; soulseekers with none of the acid missanthropy (sic); BiS labelmates with none of the sneering contextual rocks to dash themselves against. I’m supposed to be impressed by hype-spitters when they don’t try now? There’s a good idea in here, but if all I had to go on was this sample, I wouldn’t have heard any knowledge on FEMM’s part of what it is. Try harder, that’s all I ask.

Reader average: [9.11] (9 votes)

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4 Responses to “FEMM – Fxxk Boyz Get Money”

  1. Tara! So happy you’re back for this, and not just because you’re the only other one to give it less than a 5.

    Also I think Nadia Oh is the best comparison for them I’ve seen, and I didn’t like “Taking Over the Dancefloor” either so no tension for me to work through there.

  2. I still have no idea what a “fuckboy” is. Is it the 201X’s “scrub”?

    Also I agree with the Nadia Oh comparison (I loved “Dancefloor”, by the way), but this really really benefits from the extra sounds that aren’t, like, noise.

  3. Josh: essentially, except it’s been around for much longer, only penetrating the mainstream recently

  4. iain, i’m the jukebox’s resident cyborg girl irl, like i was gonna show up late to this party.

    if these scores are any judge, though, i might’ve shown up too early, and missed the part where it got fun :(

    i scrapped it because it was distracting and out of place, but as far as FEMM’s fuck-’em-let’s-get-rich-get-fed anthems go, i preferred “girls night out” all two months ago that i heard it, not least of which because it’s willing to be cornier (“our shit’s bananas/from ny down to atlanta/we’ll rock you just like santana”) about it.

    i didn’t realize it was the same group (my memory’s not a hard drive) until i googled them while reviewing “fxxk boys get money”. contrasting the two of them – contrasting “fxxk boys get money” with any of their other songs outside of “wannabe” – makes it pretty obvious to me there’s something interesting and hungry and demanding to FEMM’s output; my real gripe with this song is that, existing on its own, i didn’t hear any of that. nothing in this song – even the parts that are fun, like hollering “fuck boys get money”, like i’m a bioroid whose emotion chip’s perma-burned to the “carnival” setting, again and again – suggests i should bother looking for it.

    you wanna hear them do “misanthropy robots massacre the dance floor” and in my opinion absolutely slaughter it? listen to “white noise”. for robot-hate-plus, run, don’t walk, to check out their new meanness “dead wrong”. (i’ve seen latex maid costumes before; it’s … been a while since i’ve seen anyone wearing a latex furisode.) “fxxk boys get money” is cash-in cynicism from a band that could do this so much weirder.