Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Cee-Lo Green ft. Wiz Khalifa – Bright Lights, Bigger City

Wherein Katherine’s not quite as alone as she thinks…


Michaelangelo Matos: We’re onto the lesser-singles part of selling The Lady Killer, which is fine; that’s a good album. I like the just-turned-on-the-machine synth fanfare, very ’84, but I’m less turned on by the track’s seeming fealty to Night Ranger than I might be. Wiz makes no impression.

Martin Skidmore: Here Cee-Lo steps back to the ’80s, with a “Billie Jean” bassline and some funky synth sounds, on a party-it’s-the-weekend number. I totally adore his voice, and it’s all jolly enough. Wiz Khalifa sways along with it well enough, but it’s not one of Cee-Lo’s more memorable tunes or performances, very pleasant as it is.

Jer Fairall: John Darnielle already snagged that quote from the Cheers theme a few years back, the Wiz verse is a glibly commercial add-on and this was hardly one of the stronger moments on The Lady Killer anyway, but Cee-Lo pulls it all of with such an effortlessly cool ease that I kinda love it anyway.

Anthony Easton: Cee-Lo has one of the great voices of the last 10 years. I would listen to him sing the phone book, or a grocery list, and so for three-quarters of this, it’s pure pleasure.

Jonathan Bogart: The original song is more gestural than meaningful, a collection of cinematic signifiers that sound impossibly cool up to the point where Cee-Lo gets didactic and just slings the title at us. Still, it’s a complete thing, here rendered incomplete by Wiz Khalifa’s not-even-an-afterthought of a guest spot. He sounds more like some dude in his bedroom wanting rather pitifully to get in on the action than a shoulder-to-shoulder participant in Cee-Lo’s widescreen 80s-funk splendor. At least put a little reverb on your voice, dude; anything to make it sound like you’re trying.

Hazel Robinson: I’m not sure if this deliberately sounds slightly like “One Night In Bangkok” or whether that’s happy coincidence, since I’m sure Cee-Lo’s referencing more back to classic soul. The comforting line of the chorus was always destined to appeal to me and that strut, the feeling of a city truly being yours, is really well captured. Until Wiz Khalifa makes a clumsy entrance, anyway — I normally really like him, but this was Cee-Lo’s moment alone and he sounds like a tagger-on.

Katherine St Asaph: It’s the strings. For all “Fuck You”‘s exuberance, the song’s too pat, like it’s a Motown re-enactment village from which Cee Lo drives home every night playing Britney Spears. The same goes for “It’s OK,” different only in that print media no longer needed to do funny things with ellipses when referencing it. But there’s something different here. It loves near-pouncing drums, and descants built right into the chorus, and strings that sweep by you so fast they carve your skin into cliffsides. It’s both romantic and Romantic, half Bond movie and half aria, with enough longing forced into the solution to supersaturate it. It’s got enough gravity that by nature it pulls in flotsam like Cheers — or hell, Rebecca Black, who wasn’t even a thing when Cee Lo wrote it. Or for that matter Wiz, sounding like he was blown in from another song too quickly to switch verses. It’s deliberate, of course. Cee Lo’s city sweeps you up with all your signifiers and suspends you in the midst, midair, to hollow you and fill you back.

Alfred Soto: I could live in a city with this sumptuous a soundtrack: John Barry sample, loping bass, guitar fills. Unobrusive and private, Wiz and Cee-Lo are ideal neighbors; you wouldn’t mention them in letters home.

2 Responses to “Cee-Lo Green ft. Wiz Khalifa – Bright Lights, Bigger City”

  1. It’s a lot better than ‘Fuck You,’ for sure.

  2. I think I’ve been reading TSJ too much when I hear Bertine Zetlitz’s “Midnight” instead of “Billie Jean”.