Radio Rant: Nelly – Just a Dream

Welcome back to Radio Rants, where the hits just keep a-comin’.

Alright, so what’s on the agenda for this week? I swear, if it’s as bad as “Like a G6”, I’m done. Granted, you have to really try to hit that level of bad, but…alright, what am I looking at here?

Huh. Sure, alright, he’s never really bothered me before. What’s my opinion of Nelly? Well, that’s the thing, I don’t really have one. And I think a lot of other people are with me on that. I mean, everyone remembers “Hot in Here Herre” as one of the most parody-ready songs of the decade, and I bet that most people would remember “Air Force Ones” if bothered. Then there’s “Over and Over”, his duet with Tim McGraw that set a personal milestone for me by being the first pop song I actively hated. It’s not that Nelly’s a bad performer, it’s just that all of his hits are so inconsequential that I don’t think he’ll be remembered in the next decade or two.

Anyway, Nelly’s back with the lead single for album number five (?!?): “Just a Dream”. I’ll be honest, for those first fifteen seconds or so, I thought I was listening to 30 Seconds to Mars or some such band with the clean guitar intro. Then comes Nelly with a few “Uh”s, which might be his “trademark” (sad as that is). We get right to the chorus with pretty synths, a decent if dull beat, and some shockingly Sensitive Guy lyrics. “I was thinkin about her/Think about me/Thinkin about us/What we gonna be?/Open my eyes/It was only just a dream”.

And once we get to the first verse proper, “Just a Dream” reveals itself as a slow-song love jam about Nelly’s shorty, who’s gone for whatever reason. “Shoulda got that ring”, Nelly raps. Oh, ok. She left him for some other guy because Nelly was…*sigh* afraid of commitment.

Now, here’s an interesting thought. A lot of rap songs make at least some mention of the performer’s skill with the ladies; having them like grocery bags (“Bedrock”), your penchant for getting them drunk while being inebriated yourself (“Bottoms Up”), or about going back to your steady after striking out all over (“Nothin’ on You”). A few lines tossed into “Just a Dream” acknowledges the often flippant attitude taken by rappers towards serious relationships, and how it’s come back to bite them in the ass. It could have been a seriously deconstructing song.

But nah. The rest of the lyrics expound on the “my baby’s gone :(” message in unsurprising ways (“When I be ridin’ man I swear I see her face at every turn”, “I’m going through it every time now that I’m alone”, “And now I’m missin’/Wishin’ that she’d pick up the phone”). Then there’s the bridge, which is, I kid you not: “If you every loved someone put your hands up/And they’re gone and you wish you could give them everything”.

At least the music’s really pretty. It starts the chorus really minor, but by the second line the tinkering synths have jumped into major. It’s not the best thing I’ve heard, but it works. Nothing special happens during the verses, and there’s no change throughout the rest of the song.

Nelly as a performer does an ok job here. His multi-layered self call and response thing is decent if a little repetitive, and he does the “Uh, uh, uh” thing way too often. But his biggest downfall is the mostly flat delivery. Occasionally on the verses he sounds like he gives a damn, but other than that he just reads the lyrics off like the newspaper.

Ultimately, Nelly’s latest single ends up being like every other one of Nelly’s singles. It never strays into being bad, but it never does much to make itself different either. It’s way into Sensitive territory with a side of “emo”, but never capitalizes on being anything special. But at least it’s not especially bad.

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About bgibs122

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