And this week’s T-Pain cameo is…
Alex Wisgard: A novelty YouTube sensation never makes for a good pop song, especially novelty whiteboy-goes-urban genre pisstake like this. Somehow The Lonely Island have managed to buck the trend with each of their singles so far (Boyz II Men on “Dick in a Box”, electropop on “Jizz in My Pants”), by paying just as much attention to detail in the production as they do to the lyrics. Put it this way: with or without T-Pain excitedly exclaiming “I never thought I’d be on a boat!” with all the wonder of a small child (with access to a vocoder), this is still an impressive piece, which, at just two and a half minutes, also leaves it just short enough to still be both catchy and, as importantly, fucking funny. “THIS BOAT IS REAL!”
Edward Okulicz: Much better as a song than it is as a joke. You can slice it any way you like and say it’s parodying profanity-laden rap in the lyrics at the same time as bling-laden materialism in the video, but the verses and the authentic T-Pain cameo have to do a lot of lifting to compensate for the witless chorus which doesn’t outlast its surprise/shock value. To their credit, they nearly manage it – it’s a slick-sounding gag that doesn’t quite work away from the slick-looking clip. Also, boats suck.
Martin Skidmore: I’m not entirely convinced that copying other acts and sounding a little bit Eminem, a bit Atlanta and so on, actually amounts to parody, or what I am supposed to find funny. It is the best pastiche of hardcore black hip hop by white people that I have heard, lyrically and musically, so certainly skillful and sort of impressive. This generation’s Weird Al, except without any jokes.
Jonathan Bradley: “I’m On a Boat” is quite simply the greatest rebuke to Marxism since the fall of the Iron Curtain. The Lonely Island, with spiritual assitance from T-Pain, ascends to some blissful consumerist nirvana where transcendence can be achieved by mere means of presence on a watercraft. “I never thought I’d be on a boat,” T-Pain auto-croons like some modern day version of Kenneth Grahame’s Water-Rat, the Wind in the Willows character who delighted, “There is nothing — absolute nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Yacht, ferry, or dinghy, could any boy be so lucky as to find himself on a boat, with the opportunity to tell the entire world of the exhilaration he is experiencing? Some may be tempted to see this as sneering parody, but disregard those buttoned-down killjoys. “I’m On a Boat” is wild-eyed homage, a joyous celebration of Rick Ross-esque money-porn, even while it renders many lesser examples of such music obsolete.
Alex Macpherson: Ugh, dorky white dudes trying to be funny, failing miserably. This is why I hate comedy. Reluctant point for the halfway decent beat, but the vileness of the overall aesthetic outweighs it.
Dave Moore: Three points about the Lonely Island. (1) They write excellent songs. This production is, like, a real song — pretty accurate as an emulation of an epic DJ Nobody (feat. Everybody) track, epic in its own right, and a good use of T-Pain’s guest spot that’s as important (and as funny) as it is in “Blame It.” (2) They’re smart. Not only smart, they’re smart in character, which is one thing that sets them apart from obvious (but different) peers Flight of the Conchords. It might be easy to make “nautical-themed pashmina afghan” sound funny, but I bet it’s a lot harder to make it sound cool. (3) They’re not really joking: whenever I listen to this song, and I’ve listened to it a lot — more than any other song this year in fact — I really want to go ride on a motherfucking boat. I mean, fuck. They’re on a boat. Think about it.
Jordan Sargent: “I’m on a Boat” comes close to pitch-perfect satire of Khaled Culture, but where they come up short is in their utilization of T-Pain as merely backing vocals. Had they given him the chorus, “I’m on a Boat” would’ve been a better joke than every 2 Pistols, Ace Hood and Plies single combined.
Keane Tzong: T-Pain’s commitment to this unimpressive, one-note joke is laudable. But even rats know when it’s time to escape a sinking ship, so I can’t help thinking that he should have known better.