Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

fun. ft. Janelle Monáe – We Are Young

Because lowercase initials and full stops are the essence of fun…


Jonathan Bogart : Look, when you say “ft. Janelle Monáe” you create certain expectations. BACKUP VOCALS DON’T GET A FEATURED CREDIT.

Michaela Drapes: When fun. formed, I was achingly angry with them for choosing such a bloody un-Googleable name. Career suicide, I thought. Nice to be proven wrong, what with the hit status of this track via a car commercial and its recent Glee-ificaton — they now show up at the top of web searches for “fun.” Every generation deserves the Jackson Browne we end up with, I suppose — and I think this time around, it’s Nate Ruess. Looking back on the output of fun. (and its predecessor, The Format), his songwriting trajectory was clearly directed to this particular outcome, his upteenth endlessly catchy and epic song about getting wasted and falling in love that people are finally hearing.

Brad Shoup: Oh, look, it’s one of those moderately-rocking nice-guy indie bands that stopped having hit singles! Semisonic, of course, doled out that deep-buzz clarity, while fun. has a lot of shit to solve in the ten minutes before the bar lights come on. They’ve got to avoid their steady, and this new girl’s actual hipster friends are poking around, and fun.’s friends are sticking someone else’s money up their noses, and the tallboys shifted a new gear, and an employee’s jukebox mix CD just came up with Custom’s “Hey Mister,” and somehow fun.’s got to achieve the transcendence that we always think is just a piano-key strike or an epic high away. It’s a tall order, and fun.’s Anglo-ish accents and structural rogue taxidermy aren’t up to the task. Desperate to have it all — the portrait of an asshole, the cola-commercial generational uplift, the grafted-in earworms, the tenderness — fun. end up with a focus group crime scene. Maybe they aren’t actually a bunch of nice guys, just a too-earnest pack that moved into the neighborhood a few years late.

Alfred Soto: Bands (a) spend too much time in bars (b) spend too much time listening to music. To say this number evokes Semisonic’s “Closing Time” would be too easy. Nothing if not resourceful, these guys understand that even Semisonic would imitate Animal Collective if it meant cultural ubiquity. For a soupçon of “weirdness,” indie’s favorite “soul” singer makes a cameo. Viral marketing it’s called. 

Andy Hutchins: The frantic first verse detracts from the huge, anthemic hook, but, hell, that’s a HUGE, anthemic hook, and fun. or Fun. or PHUN or whatever it is at least knows space well enough to stay out of the hook’s way. Think of it as “Fix You” for the I Just Want My Pants Back generation.

Anthony Easton : The cabaret swing of the beginning of this, and the piano riff, and the carpe diem drink and fuck message — it’s beautiful; silly and absurd, but beautiful.

Jer Fairall : Begins in the twee faux-poetry mode of drips like James Blunt and Keane before lapsing into a quarter-speed “Don’t Bring Me Down,” which would be a relief were it not all lacking ELO’s itchy, intoxicating, trashy groove. All the while I’m left waiting for Janelle Monáe to show up.

Michelle Myers : The first time I heard this song was in an episode of Glee and its sub-Journey attempt at “anthemic” was so clumsy that I thought it was another crappy original song.

John Seroff : At first I couldn’t figure out why this Weezer-meets-Sha-Na-Na prom anthem had gone viral. Then I got hep to those crazy kids and it basically made sense; in all fairness, “We Are Young” genuinely sounds better through the polished prism of multi-culti pseudo-teens.  The original, unclear as to whether it wants to be hopeful or mopey, settles for humdrum. Obligatory note for all future producers of guest spots for Janelle: less Monáe, more problems.

Iain Mew: This Jukebox entry ft. Iain Mew. 

5 Responses to “fun. ft. Janelle Monáe – We Are Young”

  1. Lead singer boasts the most irritating timbre I’ve heard in weeks.

  2. Bogart ftw.

  3. “multi-culti pseudo-teens” is the phrase of the day

  4. Kind of an alternate universe Cobra Starship, if those dudes hooked up with the guy who produced MBDTF. Such a gigantic, enormous hook, hard not to get caught up in it.

  5. No. 1. Somehow. (Digital sales are how. But nevertheless, wha?)

    It’s weird, because the full Fun album (I refuse to acknowledge their punctuation quirks; it’s bad enough that we have all these one-word noun bands) is legitimately bizarre. I mean, it’s not that strange — it’s what you get when you feed a lot of Glee and Queen and off-Broadway musicals and rogue autotuners and I guess maybe some Panic at the Disco (see previous) into a hopper. It’s just that it’s emulating nothing that’s big.

    Well, OK, it’s emulating one thing. This was produced by Jeff Bhasker, and it shows.