Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Music Review: Fancy

  • Artist: Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX 
  • Album: The New Classic 
  • Release: 17 February 2014 
  • Label: Island (Universal) 
  • Genre: Hip-hop 
  • Writers: Amethyst Kelly, Charlotte Aitchison, George Astasio, Jason Pebworth, Jon Shave, Kurtis McKenzie 
  • Producers: The Invisible Men, The Arcade
Enter Amethyst Amelia Kelly. This young star was born in Australia, of all places, and has lived about the American South since the age of 16. It is there that she started a career as the rapper Iggy Azalea, bubbling under the radar until her breakout earlier this year, with not one but two singles sitting back-to-back atop the Billboard Hot 100. These are her own "Fancy", and Ariana Grande's "Problem". I've chosen "Fancy" to review today, because while it may suffer some serious problems, I don't think it bad enough to grace my worst-of list this year. Then again, I reviewed Katy Perry's "Roar" for the same reason, and it made that same list last year, so, we'll see what happens, I guess.

Not yet having been exposed to anything from Iggy Azalea's oeuvre from before her two aforementioned hits, I can say that she reminds me a lot of Nicki Minaj: a talented rapper who too often is saddled with sub-par material. They both have their shining exceptions, true, but in the case of the former, "Fancy" is not one of them. I'll start my review of this song by discussing the beat. It sucks. All it's got to it are a short loop of bass notes, synthetic hand-claps, and a bunch of guys shouting "hey!" on the off-beats. If you read that description and immediately thought of "Rack City" by Tyga, then your're giving that song more acknowledgement than it deserves, but you'd be right. However, you may be surprised to know that "Fancy" does not, in fact, share the producer of "Rack City". Said producer is a mister DJ Mustard, and given both the mediocrity and quantity of his output, I'm saving my bile for when the year-end top-tens roll in. In the meantime, let's poke around the lyrics.
First things first, I'm the realest
So, assuming this is the first you've heard of Iggy Azalea, the words with which she makes her first impression are, "I'm the realest". Lady, I do appreciate your enthusiasm, but so many rappers have made such claims only to portray the same tired images, thus negating their point. I guess the only thing I can do for know is kindly request of you to show me what ya got.
Drop this and let the whole world feel it
And I'm still in the murder business
Let me remind you readers: Iggy Azalea is a white girl born in Australia. I don't think that would have been enough time for her to establish herself within the murder business, as she puts it.
I could hold you down, like I'm givin' lessons in physics
Physics, eh...? Your guess is as good as mine.
You should want a bad [noun] like this
Drop it low and pick it up just like this
We should be, as a collective society, a bit over-acquainted with the concept of a "bad b!tch" by now. But now we are dealt the ethical dillema of a woman willingly applying the phrase to herself, when she is not, strictly speaking, a literal prostitute. You see what you've done to us, popular culture!?
Cup of Ace, cup of Goose, cup of Cris
High heels, somethin' worth a half a ticket on my wrist
Takin' all the liquor straight, never chase that
Blah-blah-blah, expensive liquor, blah-blah-blah luxury accessories.
Rooftop like we bringin' '88 back
My good lady, I do appreciate your interest in taking this poorly-defined party back to a simpler time, but this beat does nothing to evoke the late eighties. Maybe you and Charli XCX are attempting to evoke the girl-power rap groups of the time like Salt-n-Pepa or... actually, that's the only one I can think of at the moment, but it's a stretch to make that connection. Speaking of the other person...
I'm so fancy, you already know
I'm in the fast lane from L.A. to Tokyo
I'm so fancy, can't you taste this gold
Remember my name, 'bout to blow
The chorus is sung by British singer Charli XCX. If you'll recall, she happened to have left a bad impression with her debut appearance on last year's "I Love It". But even though Charli brings back much of her over-enthusiastic delivery for "Fancy", for some reason, I'm not bothered by it now the same way I was back then. I don't know, I guess now that the music's not trying to compete with her vocals in the volume department, I'm not suffering the same sensory overload. So I guess that's one good thing I can say about this song's production. Plus, the lyrics aren't as psychotic as in "I Love It", but I'll address that later.

That "later" is not during the second verse, which I can summarise as such: "Blah-blah-blah spending money, blah-blah-blah haters." Except at one point, Iggy calls her flow "retarded". I know she's using with the positive connotation oddly bestowed upon such words as "bad" and "ill", but honey, don't sell yourself short. Oh, and she spells her name at one point. You know, just like every other rapper from back in the day. As I have explained before, slavishly adhering to such cliches only serves to diminish one's individuality, and the degree to which I can take her seriously. So let's skip ahead to the middle eight:
Trash the hotel
Let's get drunk on the mini bar
Make the phone call
Feels so good gettin' what I want
Yeah, keep on turnin' it up
Chandelier swingin', we don't give a [verb]
Film star, yeah I'm deluxe
Classic, expensive, you don't get to touch
And now for the "later" I teased you with. Charli XCX sticks around for the middle eight, and this is where I see a glimmer of potential. This part of the song involves the raucous off-stage life of a rock star, and is such the closest these lyrics ever get to embodying the idea of "Fancy". Wouldn't this have been a better idea to base a song around? It certainly would have been more different than the rest of the song, which reminds me: Blah-blah-blah I'm aweome, blah-blah-blah I imply the murder of haters.

So that was "Fancy"... I mean the song was called "Fancy", but it most certainly was not, itself, fancy. The majority of the lyrical content is your typical, over-done rap fare, and the beat sucks. Although I guess I know why DJ Mustard feels the need to slap his audio watermark onto the top of his tracks, now that other people are copying his technique. We're all screwed. But there are occasional bright moments in the lyrics, specifically Charli XCX's parts, that could have made for a better song if they had been expanded upon. And even with what we got, Iggy's forceful flow and Charli's powerful singing stylings deserve to be witnessed. But all the same, they deserve better material to be used upon.

Music: 1 fake Southern accent out of 5
Lyrics: 2 fake Southern accents out of 5
Performance: 5 fake Southern accents out of 5
The Call: 3 fake Southern accents out of 5 (C)

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