Your Least Favorite Song: “Are You That Somebody,” Aaliyah (1998)

There was a music-writing challenge going around on Facebook a couple of years ago that I never did. (Great story! And then I found 20 dollars?) But ANYWAY, I thought about doing it in January. Then February.  Lo and behold, it is March 9, although one would never guess since it is lit’ rally 23 degrees outside. One is supposed to complete this in 30 days, writing one essay a day. I can’t promise to deliver in that time frame — I have a real-world job and a busy social calendar, after all — but I will get through it.  Then I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled FFWDing posts.

Day 1 was “Your Favorite Song,” which I think I blathered on about enough in this FFWDing… post.

So let’s get negative. Appropriate enough for a Sunday evening.  My “least favorite song” is a hard one to pin down.

Is it just the most irritating song from an artist I already can’t stand? That’s “Rude Boy” by Rihanna. Is it a song that has plagued me for years — “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby — or a newer song that represents the slow death of popular music as we know it? (That might also be “Rude Boy.”)

Or is it a song that’s merely “okay,” but wildly popular and tragically overplayed?  (See: “Sweet Caroline,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,”  “Brown-Eyed Girl.”) There are obviously songs by death-metal bands that would be simply unlistenable to my pop-loving ear, but I feel “least favorite song” needs to be one you can clearly identify by song and artist (rather than just, “sounds like a terrible System of a Down-slash-Mudvayne-slash-Slipknot song”).

I think I have to go with my gut. Because it’s not like I can scroll through my personal iTunes library to find songs I just can’t stand. What I did do, however, was listen to the 1990s Spotify station for 10,000 years and heard some very worthy candidates before deciding on the Aaliyah hit. Do I feel guilty because she met with a tragic end? (And I’m referring of course to her becoming R. Kelly’s illegal child bride, not her airplane-crash death at 22.) Kind of. And I’d like to hope that perhaps, with maturity and a chance meeting with Max Martin, she would have redeemed herself.

For me, a good song should be comprised of at least most of the following: Interesting melody. Catchy hook. Impressive instrumentation and/or vocals. Perhaps a thoughtful lyric or two.  This has NONE of those, PLUS there is the added insult that an irritating sound effect (a baby goo-gaaing, if you’re not familiar) runs throughout the track. It also contains the following lyric — in the chorus, so you hear it multiple times:

Sometimes I’m goody goody
Right now I’m naughty naughty 

I don’t even know what to do with that.  I’m going to leave you there.


Other nominees:

“You’re Beautiful,” James Blunt. (Never has a compliment sounded so whiney.)
“F*ck It (I Don’t Want You Back,” Eamon. (Don’t worry.  She doesn’t either.)
“What It’s Like,” Everlast (Message is fine. Monotony is not.)
“Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child (I truly think the mediocre chorus is repeated 34 times.)


One thought on “Your Least Favorite Song: “Are You That Somebody,” Aaliyah (1998)

  1. I never heard that Aaliyah song before, nor saw the Eddy Murphy = Dr. Doolittle movie which birthed it, and after hearing the song, I can’t argue that it’s none too good, especially for a #1 R&B song. The whole start-stop rhythm seems cribbed from several Destiny’s Child tracks. The baby samples do not help.

    Speaking of Destiny’s Child, I must rise to the defense of “Say My Name,” which is a great little vignette despite the repetitions. “You’re Beautiful” is even whinier when you discover (not from the lyrics, which are vague and even misleading on this point) that he’s talking about seeing his ex on the subway with another man. Everlast is OK musically, but painfully out of tune vocally. I had not heard of Eamon before, but it does not appear that I missed anything there, for a song that went to #1 in thirteen countries including the UK.

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