Two weeks ago today, Cee-Lo Green, best known from Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob, posted a preliminary video on his YouTube channel for a song called "Fuck You."
With a title like that, the song could express a number of layered emotions. Cee-Lo chooses to direct the angst of his song towards the new man hanging out with his girl, and he does so in an extremely catchy way, complete with brassy Motown inflections and gospel-style backup singers.
But while Motown prided itself on subtle innuendos while presenting the nation with non-threatening yet extremely talented musicians, Cee-Lo is much more direct with his message. Take, for example, the first lines of "Fuck You":
I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl love, and I'm like, "Fuck you!" (Oo-oo-oo) / And though there's pain in my chest, I still wish you the best, with a "Fuck you!" and a "Fuck her too!"
The original video was simple, like an artistic karaoke video with just lyrics and old-school film scratches digitally imposed to give it that vintage feel (think the Grindhouse flicks). It instantly went viral. Now, after more than 4 million views, and just two weeks after the video was posted a quick count reveals at least 10 covers, a dance video and a , role-playing the guy who stole Cee-Lo's girl. 50 Cent rap response
I can't think of another song that has spread like this. Usually, a video
goes viral because it's funny or interesting, but more importantly,
it's VERY easy to share — just paste the link. But with "Fuck You,"
Cee-Lo has created new territory for musicians: the viral music video.
The song is spreading thanks to artists who have taken hours of their
lives to memorize the song and the chord changes, learn it on guitar,
record themselves performing it and then post it online.
I can't wait for his album, The Lady Killer, to drop. Yesterday, he posted the "official" video for "Fuck You" on his YouTube channel (see below). As of today, it has 33,000 views. I was worried it would be a disappointing bookend to the original, but it's faithful to the spirit of the song. It takes place mainly in a ’50s diner, complete with three beautiful back-up singers clad in old-school, green skintight dresses. My one problem is that showing a close-up of Cee-Lo singing with dark sunglasses on really misses an opportunity to show his performance as a singer. The emotion comes from his eyes, yet they are covered by his glasses.
The "official" video has only been online for one day, so it's a little early to draw conclusions. But based on the response so far, it seems like simpler is better. And Cee-Lo, I know you spent good money making that music video, but it looks like the Internet has already chosen the "official" video for you.