LMFAO w/Swizz Beatz
Thursday, August 11
Better than: Watching the new episode of Jersey Shore.
It was a beautiful coincidence that LMFAO, holders of the No. 1 song on Billboard‘s Hot 100 for most of the summer of 2011, headlined the trade publication’s end-of-summer blowout at Pier 36, a sponsor-laden affair that was carved out of what a real estate agent might call “raw space.” The cab driver that brought me to the party wasn’t quite sure of what I was talking about when I said “Pier 36”; Google Maps had initially sent me to the wrong address.
Eventually I found my way, though, and what awaited me was a spread that included two cars, a hot dog stand, slurpees, PopChips, and Swizz Beatz, who was racing through a medley of his hits while surrounded by a large group of people onstage. (I wonder if the plural form for “a musician and his many hypemen” could be “a Swizz”? It sure sounds nice: “A Swizz of guys.”) He gave a particular shout-out to the dancing techniques of white girls, who apparently are appealingly exuberant in his eyes. “But this is not about race. This is about having fun,” he noted, and I got the feeling that he came up with the idea for the track while watching old Seinfeld episodes. He eventually leapt into the crowd, coaxing the people around him to take pictures; “This is the shot right here,” he said. And then his part of the night was over.
I obtained a Slurpee and during the ensuing brainfreeze thought about how, while pumping myself up for the show that afternoon, I’d realized that LMFAO is pretty much the current generation’s version of KISS circa 1987, when they were sans makeup and aggressively touting their skills at seduction. This realization was inspired by a spin of “Sexy And I Know It” from Sorry For Party Rocking, which uses the phrase “I work out” to great effect in its chorus. Sure, it sounds nothing like “Lick It Up,” but while listening to it, instead of flashing to a mental image of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino or one of his gym-going, tanning-booth-happy, well-laundered roommates, my mind conjured up “The Paul Stanley Workout Tape,” a bit of the Kiss Exposed DVD that was incorporated into a later-generation clip for “Rock And Roll All Night.”
The perception of confidence when it comes to attractiveness is maybe 75% of reality, and LMFAO—like Stanley and Gene Simmons before them—play those mathematics to the hilt. They’re aggressive about letting anyone around know that they find themselves hot and in need of alcohol; their songs are pretty simple to learn, abiding by the “most repeated term in the song is its title” rule pretty exclusively; and they interrogate the crowd with questions about their collective sexiness and party-readiness over and over, only stopping near the end to get grateful in a bit that doesn’t sound as “I love you, man” as the alcohol shoutouts leading up to it might portend.
That their depictions of decadence are taking hold in the current moment is probably not surprising, given that, well, who doesn’t want to escape thinking about the various ills plaguing the world and clogging up the ever-expanding number of news sources out there. But the prospect of partying away reality is only half the story; the songs on Sorry, including the still-reigning chart-topper “Party Rock Anthem,” are expertly constructed, using the aforementioned lyrical repetition and shout-outs to the sexiness of everyone involved in concert with some undeniable melodies that rattled around my brain after a single listen on record. No doubt both Stefan “Redfoo” Gordy and Skyler “SkyBlu” Gordy inherited their collective knack for hooks from their father/grandfather, Motown founder Berry Gordy.
As long as LMFAO have been kicking around they’ve seemed ready to do anything to keep their names out there, not content with coasting on their concealed-by-pseuds family name; they’re constantly hustling. (Which probably further explains their chronic need to kick back with some drinks and not think about work for a couple of hours.) That attitude carried through last night; they happily thanked Billboard for inviting them to their party and to their chart, and despite the show at its core being one of those corporate shows that so many other performers treat as either a lark or a dreaded obligation, LMFAO had a full-on dance crew accompanying most of its songs, costume changes (for both themselves and their dancers), an inflatable zebra and a dude dressed in a full-on panda bear outfit, and confetti and glitter shooting toward the audience at the end. The front rows of the show were also drenched in a couple of liquids, which I’m going to guess had some sort of alcoholic content. It was all put forth with enough showmanship to make Simmons proud, or at least make him think about further ways to push the KISS brand forward in 2011.
The show went by in a blur and ended with their 2009 single “Shots,” an aggressive little ode to incipient alcoholism that sounds like a pen being jabbed against your eardrum while you’re surrounded by beer-bong-sucking miscreants. When shoved up against the melodicism and sway of “Party Rock Anthem” it sounds harsh and overbearing; its in-the-red nature is, perversely, a great argument for “Party Rock Anthem”‘s chart dominance. Although in the end, the result of hearing it was probably one LMFAO would have approved of; I went to the bar to order one last drink.
Critical bias: Swizz and I are colleagues of a sort. Also, I’m totally rooting for “Party Rock Anthem” to hold off Katy Perry’s attempt to tie the “Most Hot 100 No. 1s” record set by Bad. Michael Jackson didn’t have to juice his stats with big-name remixes!
Overheard: “There are always hot dogs at these things.”
Random notebook dump: According to some between-song banter, digital copies of “Party Rock Anthem” sold better in New York City than in any other market in the country.
Sorry For Party Rockin
Take It To The Hole
Put That Ass To Work
I’m In New York Bitch
Sexy And I Know It
La La La
Party Rock Anthem