And All-Hip-Hop Thursday ends with our lowest-scoring song so far. And yes, that’s including Chris Brown…
Rodney J. Greene: Life is but an office chair.
Anthony Easton: Elegiac, and nostalgic, Skidmore’s prediction of Z as the first Vegas rapper continues apace.
Kat Stevens: This song makes my face do an involuntary grimace, like Vic Reeves just after he’s said “Uvavu”. It’s what would be played to the crowd during the ad breaks at a televised benefit concert to raise money for Sting’s latest plastic surgery.
Michaelangelo Matos: Originally this was going to get one point simply for not being “Beach Chair.” Then I A-B’ed them. Dude, retire and mean it.
Jonathan Bradley: Hov can do wistful, as he’s proved on tracks from “Regrets” to “Allure,” but “Young Forever” suffers from a lack of genuine ache. The Alphaville interpolation provides a veneer of pain, and even with Mr. Hudson’s inert enunciation of the hook, it’s nigh impossible to make “Forever Young” impossible to like. But “Young Forever” claims emotion without working to create any; Jay’s delivery is noncommittal and ineffectual, and the rapper does little to distinguish it from the synth haze. He finds a bit of life on the third verse with a haltering, off-kilter flow that I’m convinced he’s used previously to better effect, but there’s nothing actually memorable about his use of it here. And let us try to forget the cringeworthy patois of the second verse; one of 50 Cent’s only effective jabs at Jay was his jibe about him being “gone so long [his] ahk-sent’s changed.” Overall, it’s quite nauseating.
Ian Mathers: I don’t mind interpolating, even when it’s in big indigestible chunks like it is here, but is there any point to all of the parts of “Young Forever” that don’t sound like you’re listening to an Alphaville cover? Also: “I’m painting you a portrait of – young!” Really? Really?
John Seroff: If it had just been album filler, “Forever Young” would’ve been avoidably lamentable, but releasing it as a single is depressing and distasteful. Jay’s certainly never been above trend-chasing but he’s generally hungry or clever enough to bring ample pizazz to avoid sounding craven or flat. Not so here. Jigga’s verses are mawkishly terrible; the half-assed production retread on Alphaville takes what was already morse code for overwrought treacle and pours on saccharine; Mr. Hudson is as deep, unique and complex as a bowl of porridge. Fuck’s sake, you’re Jay-Z; if you want Sting, get Sting. Young Hova would’ve had more sense than to wallow at this trough; listening to forty year old Jay stumble through creative bankruptcy on a third-rate Lupe Fiasco clone is like watching your dad try to ollie in skinny jeans.
Martin Skidmore: How does this not very interesting singer get to work with the giants of rap?
Edward Okulicz: At the risk of sounding like my mum here, you can’t just flog someone else’s song and lazily drawl over it and act like you’re Jay-Z or something, and this holds true even if you are Jay-Z. Wikipedia helpfully suggests you may instead be looking for the Aberfeldy album of the same name. Take its advice.
Jordan Sargent: I could spend days trying to decide which is worse, the empty taking-back-the-throne posturing of “D.O.A”, the empty boardroom think tank collaborating of “Run This Town”, the empty nostalgia of “Empire State of Mind” or the empty sentimentality of “Young Forever”. Thankfully, Netflix streams every episode in the history of Law and Order: SVU, so I have other things to occupy my time with.