Want U Back
September 21st, 2012
Todd plays "Want You Back" on his piano
CHER LLOYD - WANT YOU BACK
A pop song review
Todd: Let's talk about England for a second.
- Montage of England
Todd (VO): Now, I mostly discuss American music and I've covered some truly awful songs on my show, but let me tell you right now, bad American pop will never...
Todd: ...ever be as bad as bad British pop.
- Video for Bombalurina - "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
- Bombalurina: Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini
Todd (VO): Yes, they gave us the Beatles. They've got a lot of music they can be proud of, we all know that. But their standards of bad are a billion times lower than ours. Made in America, our bad music is...what? [pictures of...] Vanilla Ice? The Black Eyed Peas? We are spoiled. British pop is so much worse.
Todd: We Americans didn't declare our independence because of King George's oppressive taxes or our lack of representation in Parliament; we did it so we wouldn't ever have to listen to this!
- Video of Cheeky Girls - "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)"
- Cheeky Girls: We are the cheeky girls, we are the cheeky girls
- You are the cheeky boys, you are the cheeky boys
Todd: Fortunately, we have a giant ocean keeping all that shit away from us, and we all need to thank our [clip of Coast Guard promo] fine, brave men and women in the US Coast Guard for making sure that no [album cover of Crazy Hits by...] Crazy Frog reaches our shores. Sorry, UK, a lot of your music really sucks, way worse than ours. Sorry. You disagree or you're offended, feel free to e-mail me all your complaints at [e-mail address appears for...] firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay? And if it makes you feel any better, I'll give you this—at least you're not [image for Eurovision Song Contest Helsinki 2007] the rest of Europe.
Now to be fair, it's not just the shitty novelty crap that we avoided from the Brits, it was pretty much everything.
- Videos for Cheryl Cole - "Fight For This Love" and JLS - "One Shot"
Todd (VO): After the demise of the Spice Girls, there was a good ten-year period or so where almost no British pop artists, good or bad, made it over here. The UK pop scene became this strange, isolated, parallel ecosystem, and everyone in America could pretty much go the rest of their lives without hearing of [album covers of Can't Speak French by...] Girls Aloud, [10 Years of Hits by...] Ronan Keating, or, God forbid, Jedward.
Todd: That apparently has changed in recent years, though.
- Clips of La Roux - "Bulletproof" and Ellie Goulding - "Lights"
Todd (VO): The trade routes have reopened and the 2010s have seen all sorts of UK crossover hits. And it happened so gradually, I didn't even notice, but I guess this means I have to start paying attention to them too. Now this is, of course, an outsider's perspective on the British charts, but from what I can tell...
Todd: ...reality shows run everything.
- Rapid fire montage of clips from The X Factor
Todd (VO): Yeah, that's another way America is better than the Kingdom—we've limited the damage that Simon Cowell has done to the pop charts. But a much larger proportion of England's biggest names in pop music came to prominence this way, including some they shipped over here. [Promo of One Direction] One of the biggest pop acts in the world right now is some boy band who only came in third on X Factor a couple years ago. I will have to deal with this One Direction thing someday. But for now...
Todd: ...let's take a look at the person who came in one place behind them that season—one Cher Lloyd.
- Footage of The X Factor, series 7
- Cher Lloyd: Hello.
- Louis Walsh: What's your name?
- Cher Lloyd: My name's Cher.
Todd (VO): Miss Lloyd is nineteen, and she was seventeen when she made it onto the show. [Performance of "Stay"] And to her credit, I will say that she's a talented singer, and that her voice has a lot of power and personality behind it. On the negative...
Todd: ...she raps.
- Cher Lloyd singing "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"
- Cher: Know I'mma be on top whether I perform or not
Todd (VO): Yes, indeed. Here she is adding a rap verse to Coldplay's "Vida la Vida".
- Cher Lloyd: I hear Jerusalem, bells a ring-a-dinging
- Roman calvary, oh my choirs are singing
Todd (VO): [slight chuckle off Simon's "what the fuck" look] But hey, she was on a Simon Cowell reality show. If there's anything Cowell is good at, it's finding decent singers, and then sanding off every speck of personality, and having them sing soulless, MOR generic pop. And Miss Makeup here probably won't be an exception, right?
Todd: Well, um...okay, funny thing—I actually had heard of Cher Lloyd well before this year, and I need to thank all my British viewers out there, because without them repeatedly sending me links to it, I [through teeth] might not have ever heard her best-selling, chart-topping debut single...["not kidding" sigh] "Swagger Jagger".
- Video for "Swagger Jagger"
- Cher Lloyd: You can't stop looking at me, staring at me
- Be what I be, you can't stop looking at me
- So get up out my face
Todd: [gives a thumbs-up] Thanks, guys.
- Cher Lloyd: Get on the floor
Todd (VO): "Swagger Jagger" is one of the most fascinatingly unbearable songs I've ever heard, and yes, it did go to #1 over there. In it, she denounces all the swagger jaggers out there who try to jag her swag.
- Cher Lloyd: Swagger jagger, swagger jagger
- You should get some of your own
Todd: Wait, where's that melody sampled from?
- Cher Lloyd: You're a hater, just let it go
- Clip of Huckleberry Hound
- Huckleberry Hound: Oh, my darling, oh, my darling
- Oh my darling Clementine
Todd (VO): Oh, Jesus. No, seriously, what is this? It's like some horrible mix of Ke$ha, Avril Lavigne, and a puddle of soccer hooligan vomit. Okay, turn this off.
Todd: Well now, Miss Lloyd has...
- Clip of "With Ur Love"
Todd (VO): ...come over to these shores, thankfully not with anything that mentions swagger or the jagging thereof. Yeah, no attempts from the white British girl to establish any hip-hop cred, thank God. No, her first American hit is instead a bright, poppy little love song called [single cover of...] "Want U Back".
- Video for "Want U Back"
- Cher Lloyd: I want you back
- I want you back
- Wa-want you, want you back
Todd: "Want you back." Now there's a good, sturdy backbone for a love song. Just the title says so much—heartbreak, regret.
- Clips of the Jackson 5 - "I Want You Back"...
Todd (VO): The Jackson 5's first single used that title, and it was a sunshiny, irresistible plea for forgiveness. [...same title, different song by...] 'N Sync also introduced themselves to the world with a song by that name, and their take was more forceful and desperate. [...and finally...] "I Want You Back" was the name of Scary Spice's first solo single, and there the title reflected indecision, conflict over her own self-destructive desire for a bad relationship.
Todd: So there's been many different interpretations of this theme.
Todd (VO): Cher Lloyd's take, however, is...one I can't say I've ever seen before.
Todd: How do I describe it? Okay, you know...
- Clip of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"
Todd (VO): ...those guys Beyonce is always singing about? You know, the kind of person that can't commit to Beyonce and breaks up with her, but then goes on to act all jealous and shit when she moves on? The one who's constantly bugging Beyonce at the club because Beyonce apparently has the worst possible taste in men? Yeah, well...
Todd: ...why does that guy not have a song?
- Cher Lloyd: Remember all the things that you and I did first?
- And now you're doing them with her
Todd (VO): I mean, shitty douchebag exes are people too. Really horrible people who try to break up your new relationship, only to dump you a week later and spread rumors about you in revenge. How come no one tells their story?
Todd: Well, don't worry. Cher Lloyd has given us a song written entirely from the point of view of that sociopathic drain on your life.
Todd (VO): Now what this song is about is that Cher Lloyd dumped her hapless boyfriend to move on to bigger and better things, but now she wants him back now that he's found someone else. And I'm guessing this is her attempt to win him back, and she's got a few tricks up her sleeve. For example, when you have deeply wronged your lover, one you have cruelly and callously cut from your life, how best can you atone for your actions?
Todd: Well, here's an effective rhetorical technique I learned in grad school—open with a direct insult.
- Cher Lloyd: Hey, boy, you never had much game
- So I needed to upgrade
Todd: Gee. Thanks. What would I do without you in my life?
Todd (VO): Or if apologies are not your thing, you could always try the seductive route. And ladies, if there's a guy you wanna snag,...
Todd: ...here's a little trick that will turn any man into putty in your hands—end every sentence with a violent grunt!
- Cher Lloyd: You got me, got me like this, UNH!
- Way way, UNH!
- Want you back UNH!
Todd (VO): I'm not sure why those are there or what they symbolize. This breakup song sounds like she's either giving or receiving a hard punch in the stomach.
- Cher Lloyd: UNH!
Todd (VO): If none of those tactics seem to be getting your man back...
Todd: ...why not fall back on your unstoppable secret weapon—a big pile of hateful, mean-girl bullshit. Guys love that!
- Cher Lloyd: Now, I see you've been hanging out
- With that other girl in town
- Looking like a pair of clowns clowns clowns
Todd: [fake chuckle] Oh my God, I hate you.
- Cher Lloyd: She ain't got a thing on me
- Tryin' to rock them ugly jeans jeans jeans
Todd (VO): I left high school ten goddamn years ago, and I have no desire to return. I don't need my radio to remind me how godawful teenagers are.
Todd: I remember. Oh, God, do I remember.
- Cher Lloyd: I don't give a shh, no one else can have ya
Todd (VO): You know, I was probably wrong when I said this was her trying to win her ex back. It's not, it's just a look into the mind of an immature little shit and her every ugly little thought, dressed up in a shiny pop package. Well, to its credit, I don't think we're supposed to necessarily sympathize with the song's awful, awful narrator—I think it knows she's terrible. But I think we're expected to find this cute.
Todd: I don't. [His hands are clean of this] I'm too old for this. I am too mature...
Todd (VO): ...to enjoy this kind of conniving high school drama, even in a condescending way. Look, breakups are no fun, especially one you initiated, and now you regret it.
Todd: But here's a life lesson—when you break it off with someone, no matter what happens, you gotta keep it classy. Like, take me. Now, just the other week, [clip from To Boldly Flee: Part 6] I was out on this hot date with this girl who'd been trying to get with forever, and...you know, what can I tell you? We just clicked, you know.
The "date" with Obscurus Lupa
Todd: So, like, you know, this Nicki Minaj song is, like, really bad, and she's, like, really terrible. Like, have you heard it?
Lupa: I...I don't listen to a lot of pop music, so... I think I know who she is.
Todd: Well, that's...
Back to the post
Todd: But eventually, I had to tell her, "look, I can't be tied down right now. I got too much going on, you know." And she was just crushed, you know. She looked like she was gonna start crying right there, and, you know, I felt really bad, but I gotta be free to fly and that's just how it is.
Back to the date
Lupa: Do you watch, um...monster movies?
Todd: I...I saw this, like, really funny-bad shark movie...
Todd: ...on TNT the other day. It was...it was like they were finding a shark and the guy's like, "I need a bigger boat."
Back at post
Todd: Well, now I've heard through the grapevine she's [clip of To Boldly Flee: Part 8, with Lupa waving at Phelous as she talks to Todd] got some new guy, but I'm not jealous. No, I'm not insecure. I'm fine with it because I know deep down, she wishes she could be with me.
At the date, neither of them know what to say
Todd: So, how about the weather?
Back at post
Todd: That new boyfriend probably isn't real. Apparently, he "lives in Canada." Pffft, right.
Was I talking about something? [beat] Oh, right, yes, the song.
Todd (VO): On a musical level, this thing is just terrible too. And don't think that I didn't notice that she basically just jacked the beat from [clip of...] "Party in the USA", which was another catchy, upbeat song from an obnoxious pixie that I didn't have any use for.
Todd: You know what would actually make this song better? If we heard from the guy.
Todd (VO): I mean, that would help paint the scene in more colors, you know? It gives the song perspective. It's for exactly that reason that [clip of...] "Somebody That I Used to Know" is such the instant classic that it is.
Todd: And as it turns out, we do get that. Kind of.
Todd (VO): Apparently, there is a guest verse where Miss Lloyd gets shut down by some rapper named [picture of...] Astro. Uh, apparently, though, not the [clip of...] same rapper named Astro who was in UB40. Or, you know, not the [image of...] cartoon dog either.
Todd: But yeah, he's there, except he's [American single cover of song] not on the American single release. [British single cover, arrow pointing at "feat. Astro"] He's only there on the UK, even though he was a finalist on [judges panel of...] X Factor in America. I don't get it. Furthermore, I think the song needs that other point of view. I mean, I don't know why we don't get to hear this guy's verse.
- Astro: We used to be, but now there's a separation between you and me
- Baby I'm moving on to another girl
Todd: Holy crap, what is this kid, twelve?
- Astro: I remember the times, when we used to bond
- But I never realized that you wanted to be mine
Todd (VO): See, he looks like one of [promo picture of...] Bebe's Kids.
- Astro: Dates in front your place so you can see it all
Todd (VO): Oh, wonderful, you're a stupid little brat playing stupid-ass high school games too. You know what? You should get back with her. You two deserve each other.
- Cher Lloyd: And you might be with her
- But I still had you first
- Astro: Let's go!
Todd (VO): "Had you first"? Who cares? No one cares who had who first; it's who has them last that wins. You're playing a terrible game, and you don't even know the rules!
Todd: You guys are both idiots.
Todd (VO): This is probably the only kind of breakup song that a snotty, in-your-face teen like Cher Lloyd could've performed credibly, but just because she sounds believable, doesn't make it any more listenable. I managed to get through Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" without getting too disgusted, and Paramore's "Misery Business" too, but apparently this is my line. This crosses my threshold of catty, bitchy nastiness. I'm past the point where I could ever find a song like this attractive. What's gonna happen is he's gonna take her back because he's a kid and kids are morons, and then she's gonna jerk him around more and then dump him, and then he'll probably spend the next couple years posting shitty things about women on the Internet because everyone involved with this is reprehensible. Let this end.
- Cher Lloyd: UNH!
- [spoken] Does this sound like a helicopter!? Bbbbbbbbbbbbb
Todd: You mean here's the sound of you ripping off Ke$ha?!
- Clip of "Your Love Is My Drug"
- Ke$ha: I like your beard
Todd: You suck!
Closing tag song: Eamon - "Fuck It"
"Want U Back" is owned by Sony Music Entertainment
This video is owned by me