[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: Cher Lloyd's “I Want You Back”
History: “I Want You Back” is the debut song from Cher Lloyd's Sticks + Stones. It's basically like if the Karmin Covers lady tried to pretend like she wasn't the Karmin Covers lady. Actually, Lloyd got famous singing covers too, so that's something. She was on the Euro version of X Factor. Or, I guess they call it X Factor? I'm not certain. Do they have X's in Europe? I know they have I's and V's and A's and N's and D's and R's and G's and O's, but I'm not sure about X's. I mean, Christ, they only made one Rocky movie where he went to Europe so how would I know? I'm not a Europeologist. As you'll see below:
Atmospherics: Cheery popism; “doom-doom-tap”s; like if a Blowpop was a song instead of a Blowpop. Oh, also, she gives a hard grunt every sixteen counts, which seems like it'd be a fun idea until you get to the fourth grunt and then you're like, “HOLY CRAP SHE'S GOING TO DO THIS FOR THE WHOLE SONG. I WISH I'D BEEN BORN WITH SIX ARMS SO I COULD HAVE SIX HANDS SO I COULD PULL MY EARS, EYES, NOSE AND HAIR OUT OF MY FUCKING HEAD ALL AT ONCE.”
Scientific Analysis: Making synth-pop music seems like it should be easy. You take some progressive chords, string them together, maybe add a few tinks or tonks or hand claps, put on some weird clothes, then shout something into a microphone about being in (or falling out of) love or like or lust or something else that doesn't even have to start with an L. Calvin Harris is pretty great at it. La Roux's pretty good at it. And so on.
But it's a deceptive process. Little things can mess it up easily. Stretch things or bunch things up, sound too excited or drone even a bit and everything comes unraveled. Think on it like clapping; it's simple enough idea, but sometimes that shit just doesn't work out right. The below diagram pretty well sums it up.
That's what happens here. Lloyd wobbles too much, vacillating between being English, hyper-English, cutesy and grunty, probably trying to sound clever or dynamic but mostly just sounding uncertain and scattered. (An aside: Three versions of this song have been released already; one with just her, one with a guest feature from kid rapper Astro and one from grandfather rapper Snoop.)
Plus, Cher Lloyd proves to be a total dick in the song. She opens by admitting that she broke up with what appears to be a perfectly reasonable, handsome man because (1) she “needed to upgrade*,” which is always quite assholey; and (2) she thought it'd make him cry (even more assholey). But then, soon as she sees the guy — nay, the hero— happy with another lady, she's like, “Oh, my bad, bro. Let's get back together.”
When I was in the ninth grade, I semi-dated a semi-chubby girl for a few weeks. Not too long after we'd started going out, she broke up with me. When I asked why, she responded with something like, “You're just not as tall as I like guys.” Now, in hindsight, that was probably a legitimate complaint. At the time, I was maybe 5' 4″ (whereas today I stand a towering 5' 7″). But whatever, my heart was squished to pulp. I was devastated. So you know what I did? Two weeks later I walked over to her house late one night all creeper-style, threw a handful of rocks at it, then beat feet the fuck outta there. When you're 14, there's never a situation where throwing a rock at someone isn't a viable option. It's a little thing I like to call justice.
*Hey, how's your mom? “Oh, yeah. I stopped that whole Mom-Daughter thing. She had cancer. I needed an upgrade. You should meet my new mom. She has a ping-pong table at her house. It's WAY better than cancer.”
(I) Here's something that will warble your existence: the training scene from Rocky IV wasn't filmed in Russia. It was filmed in goddamn Wyoming.
(II) Mark Ruffalo was definitely the best Hulk.
(III) Are we really supposed to call Snoop “Snoop Lion”?
(IV) Girls can be mean. Guys can be stupid.