Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something": Why This Song Sucks
[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something"
History: "Wanna Be Startin' Something" is the fourth single from Michael Jackson's album Thriller (said The Office's Andy Bernard: "Maybe you've heard of it?"). It received a Grammy nomination in 1984 for Best R&B song, despite the fact that he spends a valuable portion of the last third of the song shouting, "You're a vegetable." For real. Read the lyrics.
What's that you say, Tupac and Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and The Doors and Bob Marley? You're mad you never won a Grammy. Well, fuck you, you should've written more songs about shallots.
Atmospherics: Skittish, flitting snares; hee-hees; ma ma say, ma ma sah, ma mah coo sahs; throbbing bass lines; piano somethings.
Scientific Analysis: Michael Jackson does not suck. Clearly. But that doesn't mean that everything he did didn't suck. I mean, Patrick Swayze rocked tits. And it's impossible to make it through Point Break or Road House without getting a MAN ERECTION. But he also made To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, and even Halle Berry in Catwoman was like, "Jesus, this is for shit" while she was watching it.
Oh, a quick explanation for those that don't know: Ideologically, a MAN ERECTION is completely different from a normal erection. The structure and function are the same -- it's still just blood flowing to the penis -- but a MAN ERECTION possesses zero implications of arousal.
Rather, it's the ultimate sign of respect among men. That's why it's in all caps. It's kind of like a salute between Marines, except you do it with your penis instead of your hand, so that makes it more prestigious and amazing, like picking up a towel off the floor or punching in the key code at an apartment complex's entrance.
A man gets a MAN ERECTION when he sees other men do ultra-awesome things. It is entirely reflexive, which is where the popular saying, "The mouth may lie, but the penis does not" came from. Actually, it's so uncontrollable that that's why guys wear cups when they play football; not to protect the genitals, but to muzzle MAN ERECTIONs.
I mean, if Tom Brady throws a laser past two linebackers to a rumbling Gronkowski, and then Gronk destroys a safety on his gorilla pummel to the end zone, it ain't gonna look so great when the camera pans back for reaction shots and 20 other dudes are standing there with MAN ERECTIONS, brah. The more you know.
At any rate, the song. Gross. Within the parameters of logic and reason, it's totally circular and confusing. First, we're told that someone is of the mind to start something, which would imply something nefarious is afoot (BABIES WILL BE MADE TO CRY, he warns). But then he goes all lamb about who it is that's the danger. He uses the phrase "you," but you likely have zero problems with Michael Jackson, so it's probably a metaphor for something else, and that's stupid. If some shit is going down, speak on it. Don't call 9-1-1 like, "Oh no, some guy just broke into my house and I think he's going to murder me with a pointy knife," but then be all cutesy, "But I'm not gonna tell you whooooo-ooo" about it. You know what cute gets you in that situation? Murdered with a pointy knife. And if you get murdered with a pointy knife, that's gonna seriously fuck up your Saturday afternoon plans. Nobody goes shopping for curtains after they get murdered with a pointy knife.
Oh, also, the clues about what the impending transgression will entail are even more ludicrous. To wit:
It will be too high to get over, yet it will also be too low to get under? And you will likely be stuck in the middle? And, BTW, don't forget that the pain is the thunder, because that makes total fucking sense?
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(I) Shallots are like onions but not exactly and if you want to win a Grammy you'd better get the fuck to writing about 'em.
(II) Michael Jackson is boss.
(III) Black Rob's MAN ERECTION is like whoa.
(IV) Something will be started soon. Be ready.
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