By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
A throwback hook, a wrenching performance from an R&B showman, a deliciously profane chorus thrown at a straying paramour—that formula helped Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" become an instant online sensation last summer. So why not try it again, only this time with slang for the lady in question's ladybits?
"Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)" appears on the Atlanta R&B singer Lloyd's King of Hearts (Young Goldie/Zone 4/Interscope), and it swings for the fences all around—and it's very mindful of the ways the digital-music era has pushed them into odd angles. Over a bouncy keyboard line that recalls Duffy's jauntily heartbroken 2008 single "Mercy" (not to mention ? and the Mysterians' happily vindictive "96 Tears"), Lloyd joyously unleashes his formidable pipes, sounding at times like Michael Jackson and at times like a choir leader and throughout pissed off; "I miss that pussy," he wails over and over again, because as it turns out, his lady's stepping out has fundamentally altered their sexual chemistry. Add some bemused "narration" by Lloyd's frequent collaborator Lil Wayne and a tongue-twisting, embittered verse by André 3000 of OutKast, and you've got a track that's as much about pop-musical virtuosity as it is about bemoaning a straying partner's betrayal.
"Dedication" is the second track on King (after a brief intro by the Game, of all people), and even after the shock of all that NSFWness wears off, the song's catchiness and Lloyd's bravura performance beg to be blared out of the nearest, most powerful speaker. It's no surprise, then, that Lloyd's label is clearly hoping to make "Dedication" as much of a hit as "Fuck You" was in the summer of '10; shortly after it leaked last Tuesday, blogs freaked out, counting the number of times the gathered men uttered the word "pussy" (34, by Fader's count) and marveling at the dexterity of Three Stacks' verse (his second to drop in June after his cameo on Beyoncé's "Party"). By Tuesday night, the singer's official channel on the streaming-video site Vevo showcased a video in which the lyrics danced across the screen in tandem with Lloyd's anguished cries about his cheating woman, similar to the way "Fuck You" was premiered.
It'll take a while, though, to see if this track can stick as well. "Fuck You" had a slow burn up the charts—it debuted online in all its NSFW glory in mid-August, was censored for FCC-appropriateness shortly after that, got the Glee treatment in November, and hit the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in February. It has sold nearly 5 million copies in the 11 months since its release, and helped catapult Green to multi-platform star status; Lloyd's charisma is such that he could reap the rewards of marrying comment-section-era profanity with retro-soaked sounds in a similar way. The only question will be how to censor the repeated "pussy" references in such a way that the song gets cleaned up enough for summer-jam appropriateness.
It's a bit of a shame that "Dedication" is the first proper song on King of Hearts, if only because most of the 12 tracks that follow are worthy of shine as well. The album, Lloyd's fourth and his first since 2008's Lesson in Love, veers back and forth between unabashed romanticism (the joyously smitten "Cupid," which follows "Dedication" on the album and very effectively wipes away all that song's scorn), club-borne lust ("Bang!!!!," which combines glitchy vocal effects, a mournful choral sample and an astonishing guest boast from the heretofore-unknown Salo), and the brooding, yet unleashed love songs that helped him initially break onto the scene ("Be the One"). Once the heat and light brought by Lloyd's nuclear P-bomb wear off, King remains utterly replayable.