Radio Rant: B.o.B feat. Rivers Cuomo – Magic

There’s an awful lot of period action in that title isn’t there? Anywho, this is one that I wanna get to before it falls off the charts, and seeing how it’s barely in the Top 20 this week, I figured I’d jump on that now.

So this is B.o.B’s third single, and the follow up to summer smash “Airplanes”, which features Hayley Williams. And that was the follow up to “Nothin’ on You” which featured Bruno Mars. And “Magic” features Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo.

See a pattern yet?

I have to say, by this point I’m confused as to why B.o.B’s afraid to stand on his own on a single. Scant clips I’ve seen here and there prove that he can at least sing a little (the unplugged version of “Magic” is noteworthy here), and now that all three of his singles rely on someone else handling the chorus. While it’s not a bad thing, it kind of undermines B.o.B’s capabilities as a solo performer.

But back to the song at hand, “Magic”. Since we hear him first, let’s first talk about Rivers. Now, it should be well known at this point that I’m a Weezer fan. Hell, I gave Hurley four stars. And this chorus borders on silly stupid. “I got the magic in me/Everytime I touch that track it turns into gold/Except Can’t Stop Partying/And Everybody Get Dangerous/And We Are All on Drugs/Everybody knows I got the magic in me/When I hit the flow (floor?) the girls come snapping at me/Now everybody wants some presto magic” then he says “Magic” a few more times. Alright, not the best, but it’s fun to sing to. And especially dance to.

Which is the overall biggest strength of this song: it’s dancey as hell. And not get-my-tan-on-and-fist-pump dance, I mean silliest-dance-you-can-think-of dance. The backing music is some sort of processed guitar and drum machine with some cheezey synths thrown on top. Not as slick as “Airplanes”, but this whole song is rooted in silly so I can’t complain too much.

But back to Rivers. The first few times I heard this song, I liked his cameo well enough. I mean, I wasn’t crazy about it, but I thought he did pretty well. But then once I listened to Hurley a few times, well…this is Cuomo in “Magic”. This is him on Hurley. After listening to his Weezer output, Rivers sounds dead on “Magic”, like he’d rather be anywhere else (like, say, hunting for sex). After hearing how delightfully crazed he sounded on Hurley, his performance on “Magic” just doesn’t sound up to par.

But then there’s B.o.B. I read somewhere that he said Andre 3000 (from Outkast) is one of his influences, and you can really see that here. His rapid fire approach works alright on the first verse, which reveals “Magic” to be a G-rated boost track with lines like “Pick a verse, any verse/I’ll hypnotize you every line/I need a volunteer, how ’bout you, with the eyes”.  It’s refreshing after the seriousness of “Airplanes” that he’s able to loosen up and write something this silly. And he gets so awesomey goofy on the second verse. B.o.B starts off pretty solid, but once he gets to the point where he degenerates into gibberish for a second, he really takes off. Lines like “I break all the rules like Evel Knievel” and “I kick it like Adidas” are too silly to be taken seriously.

Actually, now that I think about it, is the whole song a giant potshot at boast tracks? I mean, boast tracks are usually the most straight faced, solemn, macho songs in rap, and this is just silly with a nerd bend. So is “Magic” trying to get at something here, or am I reading too much into it?

Either way, this is kind of a tricky one to call. Cumo’s flat-line of a performance and the production are both rather uninspired, but B.o.B’s skill and the outright fun of the song do so much to counter that. There’s worse out there. Like the fact that Rihanna has another song in the Top 10. See ya!

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About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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