It’s that time again! I stick my head out of the musical sand and review something that’s on the radio, and just maybe I’ll like it. Radio Rant is the name, and dethroning snobbery is the game. So what are we looking at this week? Something good?
Oh, “Airplanes” by B.o. B. The one with Hayley Williams (the Paramore chick) on the chorus. Yeah, that one!
There’s no way to beat around the bush about it; I actually really like this song. It’s well-produced without having the tell-tale glossy sound of over production, and the beat hits the sweet spot of being energetic and engaging without being too busy or irritating. Musically, somber piano, clean guitar chords, and a sprinkling of bass contribute to a beautifully moody and urgent backdrop for B.o. B, Williams, and Eminem.
It’s technically B.o.B’s track, so I’ll speak about him first. Both parts show him coping with his new fame and where he’s been and where he can go. It’s one of rap’s oldest subjects that’s almost a bonafide cliche, but B.o.B handles it with a flow, energy, and lyrical deft that makes it refreshing. However, it’s confusing to hear B.o.B bemoaning fame on his debut album. Usually this sort of “things aren’t the same” lament is reserved for second or third album blues, not something we hear right out of the gate. It’ll be interesting to see where his career goes beyond “The Adventures of Bobby Ray”.
It might be B.o.B’s song, but it’s Hayley that has the most quoted part, the chorus. “Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars/I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now”. Hell, I don’t actually know why I wrote that just now; you can probably go on Facebook and odds are at least one friend will have it as their status right the hell now. Hayley sings the part just fine, but there’s been something about it lyrically that just seems off. The problem might be that it sounds like a teenager trying to write something deep, but not quite succeeding. It’s still not a bad chorus, just one that gets old pretty fast.
And rounding out the song is Eminem, Mashall Mathers, Slim Shady. His exclusive to pt. 2 cameo is just the latest in a series of “Holy shit” features that Slim has done in the past year (other triumphs include his furious verse on Lil Wayne’s “Drop the World” and the closing verse on Drake’s “Forever”, in which Em curbstombs Weezy [again], Kanye, and Drake) where he proves that despite shifty quality in his solo material, the man used to be the hottest rapper alive for a reason. Here, he paints a dark portrait of what life would be like in Detroit if he had never tried, or never made it. And it’s one of the best parts of the song.
So yeah, overall, “Airplanes” is a great song with solid performances by two spitfire rappers and one pop rock voice. Definitely glad to hear this on the FM.