Well, Radio Runts, who are we looking at today?
I’ve never really handled Nicki Minaj head on. Part of it was that her singles peaked during booming periods on the charts, and part of it was that none of other singles were really that good. While Lil Wayne’s become an entity of weirdness unto himself and Drake knows he will always be cooler than you, Nicki’s still struggling to balance her many sides and distill them into a solid hit. Her innate weirdness allowed her to spice up other artists’ work (see: “Monster”), but this seems to be largely reactionary, seeing that her own songs have been toothless pop rap.
Immediately, Kane Beatz’s electronic drip-drops and ringing electric guitar production mark “Super Bass” as doing something different. Between the electronics and the strong beat on the chorus, I’m perfectly ready to call this one of Minaj’s best produced songs; it manages to stay sweet and cute with an R&B bump, but without any of the lameness of “Right Thru Me” or “Moment 4 Life”.
Of course, Minaj makes this song herself. On the verses, she finally seems to have found her sweet spot; she’s quick, she’s inventive, and she’s witty. She also sounds like she’s not trying to be different or stand out, she just sounds natural. Even her vocal tics sound graceful.
And that chorus. Right away, it’s danceable, and the “Boom da boom boom da boom” hook puts Beyonce’s last couple singles to shame. Ester Dean’s backing vocals don’t hurt, either. It’s sweet, breezy…hell, the whole song is a perfect choice for the a summer hit. I don’t know where she got the idea of having a “Super bass” from, though. Is that like a big bass system in a car? A 1957 Fender P-bass? Wait…if you take “super bass”, move that b over…”Superb Ass”? Might be incidental, but that’s the kind of thing I could see Nicki Minaj doing, and that makes me chuckle.
Normally this is where I’d point out some lyrics, or the message to the song, but “Super Bass” is a lyrically tight crush song. Not quite devoted enough to be a love song, but definitely an “I like you” affair. There’s no real defining lyric here, but that’s not a bad thing; Minaj tends to miss when she tries for quotable lyrics (ok, outside of “You was hot when? Ricki Lake!” which might be one of the great WTF lyrics of the year). But her lyrics here aren’t bland, either, and thanks to her varied delivery, it’s incredibly easy to get them stuck in your head.
Any of the unique quirk that fuels the rest of the song seems to have gone off looking for something shiny during the bridge. It’s almost like the writers said, “Look, we know it’s been a surprisingly solid song so far. Take five and collect yourselves”. Not that it’s a bad bridge, but it sounds like Minaj’s less interesting singles, and in comparison to the rest of the song it doesn’t feel fleshed out. But thankfully, the chorus kicks back in to keep the song interesting before you’re able to zone too far out.
I really don’t have much to say on this one. “Super Bass” is kind of weird for me in that I wish I liked it more than I did; maybe I just need to listen to it more, but so far it hasn’t clicked with me after some two dozen listens already. The chorus is strong, the production is unique and enjoyable, and Minaj puts in some of her best solo work, but I still can’t love this song like I feel I should. But I must say, it’s great to hear Minaj sound like she’s not trying to prove herself. At the very least, I’m perfectly ok to hear this again, and I probably will since it’s no great stretch to see “Super Bass” being one of those songs that you’ll hear all summer.