Radio Rant: Pitbull ft. Ke$ha – Timber

Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Let’s start this year off, yeah?

Does Pitbull actually release albums? Everyone else comes and goes from the charts in album cycles, but Pitbull always seems like he’s just there. If pop music was college, he’d be that sixth year senior everyone knows, and no one knows where the hell he came from, but he somehow always manages the C- he needs. And he gets that C- by leaning on someone else’s choruses notes to hide the fact that you rarely see his actual work. Like a slacker senior, Pitbull knows to work smarter over harder, and while that might make for some (ok, a lot of) mediocre songs, it’s a respectable way to operate.

Take, for example, “Timber”. Whatever you feel about “Timber” as a song, it’s goddamn transcendent as a marketing move. People like EDM with country/folk flourishes, so let’s just gut any of the subtlety from “Wake Me Up”, “Cruise (remix)”, and Kesha’s own “Die Young”, slap Pitbull with a bolo tie and Ke$ha in ass-less chaps, sample an old funk fushion jam, and make this song as absurd as possible, because fuck it. This is what it sounds like for pop to go for broke while bastardizing its own trends (which, admittedly, is what made Kesha a hit in the first place), and it ain’t good, but at least it’s something.

I could just make this a rage review, but the more I think about “Timber”, the cooler I think it is. Discounting Lee Oskar’s crowd, “Timber” still has some nine credited songwriters and producers, not to mention several engineers, label heads to give it the go ahead as a single, and promoters to push it on radio stations/streaming sites. The company that made it spent up to a million dollars in its creation. Everyone involved listened to the song where a Cuban American rapper from Miami says straight-faced “Swing your partner round and round”, and said with conviction, “Yes, this will be a successful product”.

That’s just too awesome to make up.

Less impressive is the product itself. Unsurprisingly, Kesha’s chorus is the best part of the song to actually listen to. Even that’s more due to personality than anything else; Kesha calls it a night you won’t remember, and she doesn’t have any fun details, either. But still, it’s catchy enough, and sticks more than the verses. In fact, with the extended “Whoa oh whoa”s included, there’s far and away more Kesha on the track than Pitbull, who has a measly pair of thirty second verses. Who’s on what side of the “featured” tag for this one?

The beat isn’t anything to write home about, either. The harmonica throughout the song provides any and all distinction between “Timber” and other club jams on the chart; otherwise this is just your usual “thump-thump” beat with light guitar because yeehaw, y’all. Maybe there’s a little “Die Young” in there somewhere, but otherwise this just sounds mailed in.

And speaking of mailed in, we have Mr. Worldwide himself. Pitbull’s never been an MC to call on when you want someone that’s got bars, but even his writing has somehow gotten worse. To wit:

“I have’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off/Twerking in they bras and thongs” Have fun instantly dating your song!

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall (timber!)”/“Face down, booty up (timber!)” I’d riff on these, but I wouldn’t want anything else from a song called “Timber”.

“That’s the way we like to–Timber!” Right, right, wood.

“I’m slicker than an oil spill/She say she won’t, but I bet she will–timber” Alright, that was actually clever. Bad delivery, but clever.

“Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane/Nah, it’s just me, ain’t a damn thing changed” Used up everything you had on the “oil slick” line, didn’t you?

That leaves most of Pitbull’s second verse and pre-chorus (the part that repeats“Swing your partner, round and round/End of the night, it’s going down”) untouched, but he put all of his effort into the first verse, and I might as well, too. The only memorable line to the chorus is another play on “timber”, so you can ponder that one yourself.

“Timber” essentially highlights frustrations felt throughout the pop charts right now: it meshes genres, and just reading the concept behind the song is worth a chuckle or two, but the final product has so-so performances with a beat that has the edges filed off. I wish it did more, but “Timber” falls short.

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About bgibs122

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