Akon feat. Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Love You

First Hit #1: December 2, 2006

Putting profanity in the title of a song is an instant way to get attention, especially if you’re planning to release it as a single. It’s so shocking, Akon is not only saying Fuck, but he puts it in the title of the song! Also he will not shut up about being a convict, to the point where I really hope it’s for a boring crime like tax evasion – he claims auto theft, but there’s some dispute there. But I Wanna Fuck You is not going to get radio play, no matter how many times Akon says Convict, so we get the bowlderized version, which censors the word “hotel”, possibly because Snoop Dogg put the emphasis on “ho.”

In fact, entire lines get tossed and others lose all meaning, leading to a song that is perched at the crossroads of dirty and weirdly innocent. You can imagine the lyrics, maybe they’re unspeakably filthy, or maybe they’re actually nice. It’s all in the power of your imagination! Without those lines, it’s just a bit of boring R&B with a bit too much autotune. It’s the era when people started to use the pitch correction software as an instrument of its own again, because Cher’s Believe suddenly became a bit nostalgic I suppose, and Akon isn’t shy about the fact that he’s digitally altering his voice until it resembles a particularly talented computer – he’s not as bad as T-Pain, who turns up in the future, but it still wipes out most of the character of his voice. He’s more concerned with street cred with songwriting, which leads to a single that’s more concerned with the shock value of some light swearing than it is with actually being coherent or all that interesting.

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2 Responses to Akon feat. Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Love You

  1. RBerman says:

    I had wondered what was the first song in this title trend; I guess Akon beat Pink, Enrique Iglesias, and Cee-Lo to it. Those three artists show the semantic variety of this little expletive; on goes for the original meaning. Some older examples in pop music can be found for all three meanings: Intensifier (James Taylor in 1976: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T07u_E-11Ww), verb of copulation (Joni Mitchell in 1972: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbfFSQ465KU), and insult (Harry Nilsson in 1972: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nugoCQEYRko). These were all major singer-songwriters known for their articulate, vulnerable lyrics, making the expletives a surprising, conscious artistic statement. Within the context of rap music, on the other hand, it was only a matter of time before such commonplace words made their way from incidental verses to repeated choruses to titles, leading to a cultural clash between those who think nothing of such words and those shocked by them. Just from a dictionary standpoint, there’s no difference in denotation between the vulgar and non-vulgar words for various things, but that makes no difference; if someone has been trained to see a certain word as offensive, all the explaining in the world is unlikely to change its visceral effect on them.

    That milestone aside: Yet another “you look sexy dancing at the club” song. We also get our first example of the unwelcome trend of sonically watermarking one’s brand name at the beginning of the song (“Konvict Music, and you know we up front”; cf Lady Gaga (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Abk1jAONjw) and Jason Derulo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBI3lc18k8Q)). The “Konvict” label gives our umpteenth example of rap cuilture’s association of criminality with strength rather than human suffering, leading in Akon’s case to a bizarre controversy in which he was shown not to have done as much jail time as he claimed.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the important musical point: This is the most blatantly autotuned vocal we’ve seen yet at #1. We’re entering the era in which this would become the exception rather than the rule, as worse and worse singers with more and more sculpted bodies populate the upper echelons of the charts. The melody is alright, but as usual, Snoop Dogg’s mellow flow is the main attraction; he’s like the rap James Taylor.

  2. RBerman says:

    “on goes for the original meaning” should be “Akon goes for the original meaning.” Again I wish that WordPress allowed for user-edited comments, or that I was a more careful proofreader.

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