B.O.B. ft. Hayley Williams - 'Airplanes'
Confusingly, this isn't supposed to be offically released until August 9th, even though it has been biffing around the lower reaches of the Top 40 for a while now. This is clearly a crackers state of affairs, so let's just plant a stick in the ground that says "it's available to buy, ergo, it's officially released" and get down to firing up the ChartBlog Reviewmerizer. It takes about a month to warm up in any case.
Now, this is not the most original of subject matter for a rap song. A pondering on how far BOB has come since his first scrabbly steps as a wannabe MC. It's fair to say almost every rapper has a bash at this song eventually, with varying degrees of success. Hell, Drake's DEBUT single was about this very thing, presumably because the memories are still very fresh for him.
(Here's the video. It's shadowy)
The trick is to not rub everyone's noses in your success, while pointing out that you got where you got to by risking everything, working hard, and practising until you became something like the best at it. But this is different. Mostly these songs are a fond memory of The Struggle, but this is closer to feeling like a horror story of how bad things had to get before they got good again.
The version of the song which nails this hardest is the one Eminem has a guest verse on ('Airplanes Pt.2'), because he, as always, is very good at listing in blistering detail how close his life came to total disaster - or in fact to what extent his life already WAS a total disaster - before his music career took off.
And of course it's a melancholy victory anyway, because we all know stardom didn't solve all of his problems. So it's not that anyone is wishing the good things in their life away, it's more a challenge to everyone to recognise that they're in charge of their own luck. Dedication is easy if you're already winning. The challenge is to keep going when you can't think of a single compelling reason why you should.
Also, if it's melancholy victory you want, there aren't many singers you could get better than Hayley Williams. She's great at that kind of slightly bitter, telling-yourself-off sadness. Her last-chance croak representing the inner monologue of someone who desperately wants to see happier times, and is desperate enough to create their own superstitions in order to feel better about things. A form of denial that's comforting in the short term, but holds you back if you cling to it.
Docked one star for BOB's singy bits, which don't quite hit the heights everything else does. Normally I wouldn't care, but it's clearly a brutally honest song, so it's only fair to be brutally honest back.
Sound Savvy says: "There's so much I love about this song, it's got depth, range and it's just all around awesome."
Awesomenity says: "I'm wondering why no one tapped Hayley Williams for a collaboration sooner?."
We Wore Masks says: "This one is fire. Well done as the hook-woman, Ms. Williams."