So it’s the 2010s, or whatever this decade is called, and rock has transformed in the jazz of the 60s: good to show off if you listen to it but the kids don’t actually care about it anymore. Feminism is rampaging, for various reasons. Hiphop has been dominating the charts since like it seems forever. Latino rhythms are cool from the times of Gypsy Kings and La Macarena.
Let’s pretend you’re a producer that wants to make a lot of money with a song. You wonder what could be a hit, what could air on the radio and make crowded the dance floors all around the world. You need a few elements to make it happen:
- A female singer. Popular, iconic. Somebody that could embody feminism but without seeming too dominant/aggressive (you don’t want to scare off the male kids, don’t you?). She has to be beautiful, obviously, video killed the radio stars and so on. Even better if she’s black, so you come off as progressive and will have the support of social justice warriors.
- A rapper. C’mon, you can’t be considered cool these days without some black dude wildly moving throughout the song’s video. The sexier the better. He has to have the “feature” tag, so the song will sound collaborative and sort of an event. Nobody cares if his rapping doesn’t match at all the rhythm, or even interrupts it, of the song. Countless previous songs have done it and it sold well, so it is ok to musically murder a song to have a rapper featuring in it.
- Sex. Sex sells. Audacious lyrics will tingle the fantasies of the kids and will make them sound like they’re listening to something transgressive. Kids love to feel like they’ve grown up already and doing transgressive things is the best way to make them feel like it. Who cares if it’s all wishful-thinking, we are part of the “show business” not “real business”, aren’t we?
- Latino rhythms. Heard of Despacito? Ricky Martin? Shakira? Gloria Estefan? They aren’t famous just because their skills, but also because they are latino. Diversity, “exotic”, for the white american-european point of view, has always had a strong appeal and latino cultures don’t sound too different, aka “scary”, like african can be. Oh yeah, lots of cultural racism in music obviously but as far as it can be exploited for money who cares?
- Rock. Rock is still cool. Kids love to wear Ac/Dc, Nirvana, Metallica tshirts no matter if the most rock song they’ve listened to was a Coldplay’s one (sigh). That must mean something, mustn’t it? Perhaps some rock will also make their fathers interested in a casual listen to the new song. One more view on Youtube can never be a bad thing.
Given the above mentioned points, we could easily assemble a song like Wild Thoughts.
There you go. You get everything we mentioned before. Rihanna is the perfect icon for this moment: younger than Beyonce, black, unlike Lady Gaga, as erotic as Shakira, as transgressive as Madonna was in her heydays. Just perfect.
Then we have not one but two rappers. Bryson Tiller takes the role of the cool, sexy come-hither-baby guy, singing only a brief part, and Dj Khaled does the “beast” contrasting with the “beauty” of Rihanna. Cliché. He has the DJ in the name that evokes cool guys throwing their hands up while faking making music among crowds of drunk youngsters and an arabic name too, so the pro-diversity folks will be happy. You can’t get any better than this. Smart choice.
It goes without saying that the video shows a very sexy Rihanna, in a latino-way; even some see-through of her nipples so the perverts out there will increase the number of views on Youtube. Provocative imagery and provocative lyrics are obviously present, such as:
Know you wanna see me nakey, nakey, naked I wanna be your baby, baby, baby
Ayy, ugh, ugh, I heard that pussy for the taking
and the refrain goes like this
Wild, wild, wild Wild, wild, wild thoughts Wild, wild, wild When I’m with you, all I get is wild thoughts Wild, wild, wild When I’m with you, all I get is wild thoughts
There you go. Enough to get young girls wet, which is the main audience we’re aiming here.
But let’s not forget the rock element. Given that most famous rockers wouldn’t be available for any collaboration for such a dismal song, we got to contact some old rocker that is not in the best of his days. Famous enough to be recognized by anybody and whose career needs a push. If he’s latino, the better. Carlos Santana ticks all the boxes here. His Maria Maria hit back in 1999 is sampled all over the song. We got also the timeless blessing of Santana himself, which can’t surprise anybody. He gets some money for the use of his guitar playing nearly 20 years ago and free advertisment among the younger generations and we increase tenfold the music quality of the song. Win-win.
So there you have all the elements of how to write a commercially successful song these days which at the same time matches all the elements of how not to write a quality song. Commercial, cliché-y, similar to thousands of other songs, not innovative in any way, simple visuals and lyrics. All this make Dj Khaled’s Wild Thoughts one of the best candidates for Worst Song Ever Written.