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Cee Lo Green - "F**k You" (Elektra)

3 September 2010

On August 19, this single appeared on YouTube. By the time I heard it four days later, it had surpassed 1.5 million hits. The mild shock of the titillating title, sung by the smooth voice of Gnarls Barkley’s worldwide smash “Crazy,” was probably the first hook. There’s a different reason for endless repeat plays, however. Naughty or not, you’d have to spin the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” to hear a catchier pop-soul single.

Cee Lo’s rare voice could render the phone book and leave listeners weak in the knees. This performance is alternately as brassy as Shirley Bassey and supple as Al Green. In fact, part of the song’s comic appeal is imagining Reverend Al himself ditching “Let’s Stay Together” and launching into this spleen-venting tirade over an unfaithful, gold-digging girl.

The lyric’s heartbroken schizophrenia leaves one wondering why anyone would pine so desperately for such a shallow ex-lover. But admit it – you may have been there. I was, once. Maybe that’s why I connected so immediately. Or maybe it was the rafter-shaking gospel organ. Or the bubbling funk bass during the sobbing, Jerry Lewis-styled “why, lady?” bridge. Or the rapturous lift of Cee Lo’s mighty voice during the unfettered final chorus.

It’s easy to imagine musicians growing envious with Green, wishing they’d produced this song first. Even the background vocalists probably laughed themselves sick during sessions. The only shame is that the song can’t be played on any radio station wishing to maintain its license. The clean version masks the off-color language, replacing the main offender with “forget.” It isn’t as memorable.

The physical single arrives in October, followed by “The Lady Killer” album in December. As this review goes live, the hit count on this viral monster is nearing 5 million. Of course, half are probably mine.

Watch the video by clicking here

Cee-Lo Green publicity photo