tomemos

July 18, 2006

Hump my dump, you lumpy slumby dump

Filed under: Music — tomemos @ 3:46 pm

The other night, a few of us were in a bar in Costa Mesa, having a decent time. It was a little bit of a dive bar, and a bit over-warm, but there was a secluded corner and the drinks were cheap. (Plus it was the fourth place we had tried; of the other three, one was smelly, one was way too crowded and had loud live music, and one was not a bar at all but a café, with no alcohol.) Someone had ordered pitchers for the house and we were two-thirds of the way through ours, when “My Humps” by the Black-Eyed Peas came on. Within thirty seconds, we had gathered our things and abandoned the remainder our pitcher and were on our way out to a donut shop. “My Humps” drove us out of a bar.

With bad pop culture, the safest thing is just to piss and moan when it comes on and otherwise keep it out of your head by consuming good pop culture. But this song is a cultural phenomenon, one that I think warrants extended, painful consideration. First of all, it’s amazing to consider how utter the consensus is on this song, at least among people I know. You hear a lot of opinions from my friends and acquaintances, and not all of them are pretty. I’ve heard people defend “My Heart Will Go On,” “I’ll Be Missing You,” “This Kiss,” and any number of bad disco songs and showtunes. I myself have defended the likes of Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Meat Loaf, and Andrew W.K. But I have never met anyone who had anything good to say about “My Humps.” So since we’re all thinking it, I’m going to come out and say it:

I believe that “My Humps” is the worst pop song of all time.

I really mean it: the very worst. Worse than anything by Herman’s Hermits or Alanis Morrisette or Foreigner or Boyz II Men. (Note that all of the aforementioned bands have at least one good song; I’m just making a point.) Any of us can bring to mind any number of songs we hate for any number of reasons, but you really can’t match “My Humps” for sheer awfulness, not even wtih a previous Black-Eyed Peas song. Even something truly horrible like “Who Let the Dogs Out?” doesn’t do as many things wrong as “My Humps”; to whit:

–Repellingly dumb lyrics: Whenever I hear the song, I get that special kind of headache, also found when watching bad kid’s movies, that says “I am getting dumber just experiencing this.” “Lovely lady lumps” gets the blue ribbon for this, managing to be creatively stupid and gross, a whole new world of stupid and gross that no one ever thought of before, but it doesn’t end there: “all that ass inside them jeans”? At least “junk” and “trunk” rhyme, for God’s sake.

–Dumb instrumentation: Not much to be said here, except that the drum machine and synth are so lazy that it could be almost anything…but no. You know it’s “My Humps.” And that’s worse.

–Offensive to Berkeley sensibilities: See “lovely lady lumps” above. Also, was the world crying out for another song about how women can and should use sex to get men to buy them expensive name-brand merchandise?

–Ubiquity: To date I have heard this song at a roller-skating rink, a dive bar, and a vaguely classy bar/club with a dance floor and a DJ. Not only is it played everywhere, in the bar that night it came on on the jukebox, which must mean that someone paid money to subject us all to it.

–Catchiness: Catchiness is the great double-edged sword of pop music: the same qualities that keep good songs running through your head also make bad ones inescapable. I won’t soon forget the torture of lying awake of stomach problems in a hostel in France, unable to get Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” out of my head (a song which I later came to love, by the way), but it’s nothing to the torture of writing this entry, where just the act of thinking about the song makes me hear “Dolce and Ga-bann-a” and “She’s got me spennn..ding..” like a mosquito bite in my brain. I only hope I’ve given you a fraction of that suffering.

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14 Comments »

  1. Wow. Just….wow. I’ve never heard that one before, but, much as with the moment someone exclaims, “Oh, my f-ing god, sweet baby Jesus is crying right now, because this is the worst food I’ve ever tasted…here…TASTE IT!” and you of course, stupid asshole that you are, are compelled to taste it…well, so I felt an inexorable NEED to go to Amazon.com and listen to My Humps after reading your post.

    I think it is best summed up by this user review:
    “It’s like the bastard love child of MC Hammer and Milli Vanilli, and actually no better than either of them.”

    Comment by locks — July 18, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  2. A ONE-ACT SOAP OPERA ABOUT THE WEIRDLY MEDICAL NATURE OF THE FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE IN “MY HUMPS”

    “Is it serious, Doctor?” I asked. If it was, I was going to have to quit my job and have my husband marry my demented identical twin from episode 31.

    “It is. You have a severe case of lovely lady lumps. They are malignant and may be symptoms of consumption.”

    Comment by forgottenboy — July 18, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  3. The world confers with you. And by the world, I mean some random online article: http://www.thephoenix.com/article_ektid14634.aspx

    Comment by kindle — July 21, 2006 @ 6:14 am

  4. You may very well be right, Tom. But let me offer some contenders for the title of Worst Pop Song Ever (or in recent history):
    “Ironic” by Alanis Morrisette
    “One of Us” by Joan Osborne
    “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears
    “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith
    “Bye Bye Bye” by ‘N Sync
    “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast (sorry, Tom. It sucks.)
    “Butterfly” by Crazy Town (my personal least-favorite pop song).

    Also, anything by Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, Gwen Stefani (post-No Doubt), or pop punk a la Sum 41.

    Bleah. Now I need a shower. I feel…unclean.

    Comment by Devin — July 21, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  5. I have somehow managed to never hear this.

    My relief knows no bounds.

    Comment by Fae — July 22, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

  6. You’re crazy. Let me present to you Exhibit A, the lyrics to Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away:”

    I wish that I could fly
    Into the sky
    So very high
    Just like a dragonfly

    Id fly above the trees
    Over the seas in all degrees
    To anywhere I please

    Oh I want to get away
    I want to fly away
    Yeah yeah yeah

    Oh I want to get away
    I want to fly away
    Yeah yeah yeah

    Lets go and see the stars
    The milky way or even mars
    Where it could just be ours

    Lets fade into the sun
    Let your spirit fly
    Where we are one
    Just for a little fun
    Oh oh oh yeah !

    I want to get away
    I want to fly away
    Yeah yeah yeah

    I mean really. REALLY. My humps is awful, but it at least doesn’t look like it was written by a retarded 5 year old discovering how words could rhyme.

    Also, it’s not “to whit,” it’s “to wit.”

    Comment by Bret — July 24, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  7. Or wait… IS it “to whit?” Now I’m confused.

    Comment by Bret — July 24, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

  8. “To wit” means “to know.”

    “Whit” means “a little piece” (as in, “I care not a whit for this bad rhyming shit”). Presumably related to whittle (to take a way little pieces…).

    Comment by locks — July 25, 2006 @ 9:53 am

  9. or even, to take “away.”

    Comment by locks — July 25, 2006 @ 9:54 am

  10. We’ve had some good alternate suggestions; however, I’m sticking with My Humps. Devin, of your suggestions, I think “Ironic” is the best (i.e. worst) one; however, while it’s trite and stupid, it doesn’t have that same “disgusting” quality, and it doesn’t get stuck in the head as much. “Fly Away” is very stupid and also badly catchy, but again, is not offensive (except to one’s intelligence). Plus, for the first two seconds of that guitar riff, one could think, “Hey, this sounds like a good song.”

    On the other hand, you’re right about “to wit.” Once again I was so sure; once again, you were right.

    Comment by Tom — July 25, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

  11. Tom,
    Allow me to be the first (at the risk of completly alienating you, a man who continues to inspire and amuse me even though he’s on the opposite coast) to defend “My Humps.” But I won’t defend it as a pop song. What I would like to defend it as is what I first heard it as: a novelty song. A friend was driving me back from some party. He had a CD in his player, a disc from some group who derived their name from a vegetable that had evidently suffered some kind of spousal abuse. And he turned to me and said “you have to hear this song.” And I heard it. And I laughed. Preccisely *because* it is obnoxious and gross and juvenile simplistic, and I figured – perhaps giving too much credit to a group that trusts a woman who chooses the vaguely onomonopaeic moniker “Fergie” (personally I think most names that begin with F naturally sound like middle-school slang for a bodily function) as its frontperson – that it was a goofy, ironic, tongue in cheek statement of the modern version of material girl culture and its marriage to the sexual aggressiveness that, while once taboo in American women, has come to be commonplace and accepted, even desired. In essence, I figured it had to be a joke. I believe it was introduced to me as a hidden track, which only furthered that impression.

    Attempt, for a moment, to pretend that you didn’t hear it in a roller rink or at a club, but on a Dr. Demento collection. I think the unfortunate nature of the thing is not the song, which I consider to be rather ignorantly innocent, but in the marketing of the song.

    On a separate but related note, I still marvel that Kelis’ “My Milkshake” ever made it onto pop radio. The subject matter is risque and the imagery raunchy, but the actual bassline for the song (and that song is all bassline) is weird and dark and modal and not at all what you would expect to hear on typical top 40 stations. But there it was, what should have been a novelty song that somehow made it into the schoolyards and the clubs.

    So that’s my point: My Humps may be awful as serious pop culture, which it has unfortunately become, but as a culty, bizarre, underground track, which I first heard it as, it elicits a “WTF?” a shake of the head and a smirk. Personally, I could not listen to “I like Big Butts” for years because it made me physically ill due to its utter chauvinism and objectification of women, but I submit that MH follows in the same graphic, stupid, nasty, goofy spirit of Sir Mix-a-lot, i.e. kitsch without the proper vintage to be considered true kitsch. Pre-Kitsch? I dunno. But that’s just my opinion.

    Comment by akablack — August 3, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  12. P.S.
    As far as bad and catchy goes, just try to get Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” out of your head after hearing it. I swear, that chorus is like g*ddamn flypaper on my brain.

    Comment by akablack — August 3, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

  13. See, this is why I don’t listen to commercial radio anymore. It hurts the brain too much.

    Comment by Devin — August 6, 2006 @ 9:55 pm

  14. You need to check this out:

    Comment by Me — April 2, 2007 @ 5:59 pm


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