On Loving ‘F**k You’ By Cee-Lo

Last Thursday, Cee-Lo Green (one half of Gnarls Barkley) debuted “F**k You” from his upcoming album, The Lady Killer (out this October). The vid has since racked up over 2.5 million views, and even 50 Cent has taken notice. Just four days after “F**k You” went viral, the rapper released a 30-second freestyle rap for the song, and Cee-Lo has chimed in with approval. So what is it about “F**k You” that has attracted so much attention? (Watch the vid below, but you may have to sign in to YouTube to view.)

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Despite no TV or radio promotion, “F**k You” has become a hit song. There are a lot of elements that make it irresistible, from the simple piano-driven bass line to Cee-lo’s soulful “ooh’s.” The use of profanity might initially be dismissed as a mere attention grabber, but I argue that it’s much more than that. Personally, I can’t recall a song that uses “fuck you” in such a joyful way.  Regardless of the fact that it’s a jab at a past lover, I am tempted to sing it out with Cee-Lo-inspired enthusiasm: “Fuck you! Fuck you!” Sorrowful or angry lyrics paired with upbeat instrumentation is nothing new in music (ahem, see the blues), but there’s something special going on in this case and I think it’s more than the novelty of profanity.

Max Read at Gawker says “F**k You” should NOT be the song of the summer. Fair enough, Mr. Read. After all, it’s the end of August and it’s hardly fair to hand that title over to such a latecomer. His argument, however, goes further and attacks the very strengths of “F**k You.”

“It’s easy; it’s peppy; it’s toe-tapping; it features a singalong, slightly naughty chorus. This song is, essentially, written to soundtrack a Shrek trailer. And the question is: Do you want to be responsible for that, internet? Do you really want to make viral a song so corny, so obvious, so desperate to be liked..?”

My answer is “yes.” I take full responsibility and surrender to “F**k You,” because there is no reason to resist something peppy and toe-tapping just for the sake of resisting. Who’s with me? Let know your thoughts in the comments section.

Jess is a writer/producer with a knack for audio and online production. She grew up in California and now lives in Washington, DC, where she recently graduated from Georgetown University. Jess' jacket collection is obscenely large, and so is her music library. In her spare time, Jess enjoys riding her bike in the city, blogging, writing songs, and eating good food.

Jess has written 46 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. When I was a kid my mom used to listen to this Harry Nilsson song

    And as a kid I always thought it was such an odd song because it was so upbeat and yet the words were “You’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart, so f**K you”.

    Now as an adult I totally get. And I love it.

  2. I love that this song is full of swearing, but it sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to The Big Chill. It’s a GOOD song. I also LOVE when a song becomes a hit WITHOUT radio or TV play, because it means people are actually choosing to listen to a song 20 times a day voluntarily.

    However, in accordance with Mel P, can we PLEASE drop this gold digger shit already? Please? I really hate it when my body tells me to dance and my brain says wait, sexist lyrics!

  3. F*uck Max Read, indeed.

    “Do you really want to make viral a song so corny, so obvious, so desperate to be liked..?”

    Why is this song, in particular, so desperate to be liked? Isn’t the goal of music production to make records that will sell?

    IMO – People like Max Read (and Max Read) are pretentious as*sholes.

    He’s essentially saying, “OMFG THEY ROTE A SONG EVERYONE WILL LIKE WE HAVE TO STOP THEM QUICK HATE IT THIS ISNT FAIR TO ARTISTS WHO CANT WRITE POPULAR SONGS!!!!1!”

    @Brietta
    The song isn’t “anti-girlfriend.”
    The song is “anti-gold-digger.”
    Don’t worry, girl; you can dance-dance-dance.

      • Gold-Digger is a completely appropriate word that describes a person who feigns and elicits emotional attachment to and from a would-be benefactor to gain access to the benefactor’s capitol.

        The only people that should be offended by the word are such people who are being “called out” for such “gold-digging” behavior.

        • According to my best friend Wikipedia, trope =”a common or overused theme or device: cliché”. I’m not denying that gold diggers exist or that Cee-Lo’s ex was a gold digger, but I think they’re referenced too much in popular culture to the point of being overdone.

          But it’s a song, and a pop song, and I’m not taking it too seriously.

          • Yeah, I know what trope means, and understood that you don’t like the gold-digger trope.
            Your previous post indicates that you are not a fan of the figure of speech because you perceive the term gold-digger to be sexist.

            I was only trying to ease your conscience for wanting to dance while “[your] brain [was saying] wait, sexist lyrics!” … because the lyrics are not sexist — doesn’t imply or state that ALL women are gold-diggers — also, the song does not imply that all gold-diggers are women. Neither does the term “gold-digger” alone imply those fallacies. So, I was like, “your brain shouldn’t be saying ‘sexist lyrics!'”

            So, go on and dance to the song, because the song is not sexist, but only anti-one-specific-person.

  4. “…there is no reason to resist something peppy and toe-tapping just for the sake of resisting.”

    Yes. I agree. And I will definitely be toe-tapping. How can anyone be mad in this consumer driven culture at something with no TV or radio play becoming a hit? I think he’s got his morals a little twisted with this one.

    • I think that Max Read – Is that really his real name??? – may secretly like the song but pretend that he doesn’t like the song as more people discover the song.
      He may think that he lacks any unique, distinguishing qualities and possibly feels like he must distinguish himself from others by rebelling against trends and convincing others to rebel as well.

      He could be an “I listened to them way before they were popular” type, and “They’re a sell-out group because they don’t care about the music anymore and only care about making money.”

      As much as the hipsters deny this, ALL musical artists are “in it for the money.” They’re all hoping (even if secretly) to have a chart buster and make loads of money so they can quit their “real jobs” and do what they like doing for money… play music. No one dreams of being an “unsuccessful nobody who makes music that only the select few appreciate for its unpopularity.”

      If someone can’t see that this song is popular because the song is GOOD and not because of a “desperate to be popular” sound… that person is “teh music critic fail.”

      • So in other words, he’s Indie Rock Pete?

        And yeah, my friend’s in a band and one time my girlfriend asked him if he’d sell out and he said “oh hell yeah.” XD

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