Play-N-Skillz featuring Lil Jon and Redfoo are the artists behind, "Literally I Can't (STFU)." Photo: @lookslikebliss
When I see a headline to the effect of "The literal worst song of the year has arrived", I would ordinarily rub my hands together with glee; as a long-time supporter of things, musically, deemed to be "the worst", I'm always ready to welcome another Rednexx/Bucks Fizz/Los Del Rio to my music collection.
However when Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams alerted us all to the existence of Play-N-Skillz's Literally I Can't with that aforementioned headline she was speaking the truth.
"I'm not saying there's ever a great time to make a song and a video that glorifies aggression toward women, but wow did Play-N-Skillz and company pick a particularly acute moment to go ultra tone deaf," she said.
Yes, it turns out this is, quite literally, the worst song of the year. Feast your eyes/ears:
The track features vocals by Redfoo and Lil Jon (rapper and Celebrity Apprenticecontestant) who spends much of the four minutes, literally shouting "SHUT THE F--- UP" at a group of young women.
Meanwhile Redfoo, who provides the verse, remains one of popular music's most unpleasant two-faced "personalities." He peddles his family-friendly "I'm just a goofy dude with a big 'fro" shtick on The X Factor Australia, then rolls out Party Anthems with all the nuance, when it comes to gender politics, of a Playboy cartoon from 1978.
Lines from Redfoo like "Work it while I Instagram ya/Shh, don't talk about it, be about it/Work it, and twerk it, and maybe I'll Tweet about it" directly reference the "viral" nature of social media posts about (and in some cases, of) the victims of violent campus sexual assault like Steubenville and Houston cases. Mmm, edgy!
If that didn't drive the "hint hint" home hard enough, the video features a dude filming a bikini wrestling comp and uploading it straight to Red Tube (a porn site).
Steubenville and Houston are, sadly, not the only examples one could turn to. The issue of rape and sexual assault at American colleges has been in the news non-stop (which is perhaps why the geniuses at Party Rock Records thought this whole song and video combination was a good idea; it's zeitgeisty, guys!). As Williams' piece illustrates, "We have reached a tipping point in our conversation about how widespread the problem is, and how shamefully victims have been treated not just by their abusers but the academic institutions they trusted. This is all information that did not quite make its way into the video for Literally I Can't."
The song is not just naff, but as it turns out, also wildly unoriginal. Unless Vine user 'Juliet' is getting a royalty cheque to rival The Stones' Bittersweet Symphony payday, it looks like Play-N-Skillz have wholesale plagiarised her Vine from back in April, White Girl Anthem:
(I'm no copyright lawyer, but I expect Flo-Rida might have something to say about Enertia McFly's suspiciously Right Round-esque rap in the middle of the song, too.)
Let's not kid ourselves here: songs like Literally I Can't don't just innocently trip their way into "controversy". Nobody writes a song with lyrics like "You got a big ol' butt, I can tell by the way you walkin'. But you an annoying slut, because you're talking" without expecting it to go off like a neutron bomb among the more enlightened members of society.
Clarification: An earlier version said that the song included the line "but you an annoying slut, because you're talking". Although it has been widely reported that "slut" was used in the song, Daily Life accepts this is not reflected in the performer's published lyrics.