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Thursday, March 24, 2005
Holy shit, people. Hillary was totally right. Brooke Valentine's Chain Letter is so best I'm having a hard time coming up with words for it. There's "Taste of Dis," which is total disco, and "Playa," which is MJ to the max, and then there's the riot grrl (!) coda to "Ghetto Superstarz" which I can't even get into right now.

Basically, it's a crunk new pop album, and if that doesn't sell you on it, well...

Right now I just want to focus on one track, though. It's not necessarily the best track on the album, but it is very good. It's "Blah-Blah-Blah (Feat. Dirt McGirt)."

The thing readers of this blog should know about this song (besides the ODB guest shot) is something that I almost knew when the first synth hits come. I thought it sounded familiar. But then the beat came in, and in terms of beat and progression, it's exactly "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex,"[1] with the similarity being strongest in that little click that finishes up the beat, to say nothing of the fact that not a whole lot of pop songs have that particular swing to them.

So lemme put that together: it's "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex" except with the male being addressed (they're both about roughly the same subject) already on the track, and it's ODB. Now, his verse isn't his best ever, but it gets better as it goes on, giving us that particular combination of rage and helplessness and humor that's so appealing. And then the go into the chorus and he goes up into way-above-his-range mode to try and double Brooke on the "la la la la la la la"s, and it's this wonderful little moment of trying to be in sync with someone you feel you're losing but not making it. As she continues doing the chorus, ODB shouts in the background, "C'mon honey, just talk to me!" and as the song ends he's crooning a little bit more, out of tune and wobbly, but she's stopped, she's gone.

But I'm getting off track here: the point is, this is Rachel Stevens except with ODB. So thus, we have a song that was written for Britney about her ex, Justin Timberlake, but rejected, and picked up by a semi-famous member of a mediocre girl-pop group going solo. Except now it's being sung by a black American R&B diva with ODB. Which means that she's Britney and Rachel Stevens, and ODB is Justin Timberlake, which means that ODB sang "Cry Me a River" and did all those McDonald's ads, to say nothing of the incident with Ms. Jackson's titty, which, let's all be honest here, would have been even more interesting with Russell involved.

This is one of the things I want from pop: to make a kind of semi-real celebrity Marvel universe where there are all these stories behind the stories and histories and interlocking storylines, intrigue upon intrigue, and we all know what's going on, but then things shift, and fall into one another, and form new storylines, and characters are minor or major and fall or rise or get replaced.

But also, Brooke is like Rachel Stevens and Britney Spears in one, except she also calls in the guy to say his piece and utterly trashes him, and she (apparently) had a large hand in the musical portion as well. This is a major, major album, peoples, well worth your time and attention (plus, it's in new release this week, so cheap). It's certainly a whole bunch of things I love about pop wrapped up in one.

[1] Which I now notice others have pointed out. It is fairly obvious if you've spent as much time listening to the Rachel Stevens song as most of us presumably have. That thread has some other good descriptions of the album, and is well worth checking out.