Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Kanye West ft. Mr Hudson – Paranoid

Best Mates Thursday continues with the important lesson that, if you’re mates with a pasty Brit indie singer and a pretty young lady with more number one hits than you’ve had hot dinners, it’s probably her you’d want to put in the video…


Alex Macpherson:The song sits uneasily between its ambition towards jaunty disco bounce and its need to cohere with the rest of 808s & Heartbreak; the flat Autotuned vocals and rudimentary production which serve the album so well in its better moments are simply inadequate for any track with dance aspirations.

Hillary Brown: Damn if every single we review off Kanye’s album doesn’t make me realize how much more that record is than the mere sum of its parts. The songs don’t work incredibly well as singles, but if you listen to them all in a row, you get a much different feeling. Anathema to this kind of thing, though.

Anthony Miccio: This was always my favorite track on 808s & Heartbreak. Grabs the ear right from the intro, though outstanding hooks are all it has going for it. The “Girl, stfu – you’re the problem, I’m just the lord of your thighs” message isn’t quite as grating when divorced from the poisonous context provided by the album, but this is some smug, megalomaniacal, worst-boyfriend-ever shit no matter how you slice it.

Martin Kavka: This is better than most examples of the you-who-are-about-to-dump-me-are-making-a-big-mistake genre. Usually, the guy is just ignorant of the woman’s complaints. Here, we actually know what the problem is: Alexis Phifer is complaining about the nights alone, and assumes that Kanye is cheating on her constantly. But if the relationship is that tense, why doesn’t Kanye just let her go? Why does he threaten her with a future of abjection if she leaves: “you really want to spend your whole life alone?” and “they don’t know you like I do, they’ll never know”? A pox on both their houses, and an extra two points off for a video which makes it seem as if Kanye is instructing Rihanna to stay with Chris Brown.

Rodney J. Greene: The highlight of 808s & Heartbreak simply by virtue of being the only song where Kanye sounds like he has the tiniest inclination to fix his problems rather than just throw bitchfits or weep melodramatically. He’s trying to bring back the good times with an attempt at luring his lady out for the night in spite of enevitable watching eyes. It’s Ye making his way past the imagined hurdle of “Flashing Lights” and struggling in leading another to take the leap of faith. What makes it especially gripping is how the drum machine clicks away and the synths temporarily blind, evoking paparazzi as effectively as any of Kanye’s words.

Ian Mathers: Naggingly addictive, even if Kanye still just seems like a dick. He claims that she’s “worried about the wrong thing,” but it comes across as if he means not that she shouldn’t worry, but that she’s looking in the wrong place. And “anyway, they don’t know you like I know you” mostly reads as the arrogant laziness of a guy who’s unaware he’s about to get dumped, which perversely gives “Paranoid” something approaching real emotional heft.

Jonathan Bradley: This is the one 808s and Heartbreak track that has Kanye sounding free. The sense of weariness and frustration underpinning the verses enhances the weightless relief in the brisk synth lines and the “You worry about the wrong things” hook. Even out of context of its parent record, the subtext is clear: this is the ecstacy of managing to escape, if only temporarily, the grim pall of long-term misery. But disconcertingly, the elation results from a sense of vacancy rather than joy; when heartbreak makes Kanye a dancer, he includes the pain as part of the package.

Matt Cibula: One of the least-convincing “don’t worry about a thing” songs ever, especially if the song’s target has ever listened to any other Kanye West songs. And a little too long. But those subtle Boz Scaggs chords and the easy lilt of the background synths have me sprung a little, so sure I’ll give in here.

Alfred Soto: God, I love farting synths. 808 and Heartbreak‘s imperviousness to interesting melodies or lyrics that extend beyond Twitter updates stops here. “You worry about the wrong thing,” I want to shout, or sing in a heavily processed voice, to Jay-Z and his death-to-Auto-tune twaddle. Still, this track is decidedly second-tier until the drum program from Animotion’s “Obsession” transforms into the drum break from Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations.”

Chuck Eddy: After those S&M synths at the start, I want Kanye to enter monotoning like the Normal guy in “Warm Leatherette.” Later, at the end, the whipcracks make me yearn for Lene Lovich. How he conveys neurotic emotion is so straightforward it feels artless — and hence, ultimately, a little boring. If anything, the music might not be pretentious enough. If he has to skim all the joy from the great Whodini/System/Nu Shooz tradition of new wave r&b synth-pop, the least he could do is cultivate a German accent.

Edward Okulicz: A delicious, delirious mix of quite 90s drum programming with confident hooks and generally meaningless but pleasant lyrics – best of all, the autotuned bits improve rather than intrude. Perhaps a bit on the long side, suggesting what West needs is someone to quell his excesses, but at least for 80% of the length of this song, he is as clever as he keeps saying.

Michaelangelo Matos: Fine, fine — weird, personal disco is my favorite music ever, so of course I like this. Still can’t stand “Love Lockdown” or most of the rest, though.

Additional Scores

Alex Ostroff: [6]
Martin Skidmore: [8]

4 Responses to “Kanye West ft. Mr Hudson – Paranoid”

  1. If those are Boz Scaggs chords, then damn, I need to hear me some Boz Scaggs.

  2. “Damn if every single we review off Kanye’s album doesn’t make me realize how much more that record is than the mere sum of its parts.”

    This is true.

  3. I wish I got something in on time for this; I would’ve scored this a 9 or maybe even a 10.

  4. The strong hooks actually make this song much worse, because the arrangement can’t do justice to them, but they disrupt the album’s mood.