David Guetta ft. Rihanna ft. Drake ft. Akon ft. Michael Jackson ft. Flo Rida
Today is a momentous day. The day in which a new art movement is named. It might not be as revolutionary as the surrealists, or the situationists, but it's a LOT more common, and what's more, if you're a friendly person, it's really easy to do yourself.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Featurists.
To explain the Featurist manifesto, all you need to do is take a look at the Top 40, and count how many of the acts appear to be a temporary partnership between two singers, or a singer and a rapper, or a producer and a singer and a rapper, or any other combination of the above. The word we are looking for is the truncated "ft.".
That is the signature mark of a Featurist.
As artists, Featurists tend to be sociable, recognisable on first listen, willing to collaborate,and of course, as obsessed with Nicki Minaj as she is with all recorded sound ever.
And right now is their time. Late 2010 is their perfect moment, because they finally have a name.
I have of course, prepared some examples to illustrate my case.
Strange proposition, this one. It's clearly another 'No Woman No Cry' four-chord churn of a thing - of which there are many at the moment - but it's more of an interwoven duet than a your-verse, my-verse, push-me-pull-you tag team song. And of course, because it's an event release, there's a great big choral ending, so we know it's important. It doesn't really disguise the fact that it runs out of its one idea quite early on, but you've got to admit, the visual image of Michael Jackson holding hands with Akon is appealing enough to tide us all through until something else happens.
David Guetta is, of course, the man who supplied the musical accompaniment to Akon when he had that song about a sexy girl he did not want to treat disrespectfully when he called her a rude word. And now he's doing the same thing for Rihanna, with another song which possibly may have started out life slightly ruder than it now is. Rihanna, of course, is the Queen of the Featurists. It's not that she does more ft-ing work than anyone else, but most of the work she does do seems to reach a large audience. This will do very little to change that situation.
And neither will this:
This isn't even officially out until the middle of next month. Not that it's stopping anyone from downloading it. It does help that the video's out and Rihanna's got that great shock of red hair, and Drake's easier on the eye than he can be on the ear. That lizardy-robot rasp when he tries to work out "the square root of sixty-nine" is more than a little slimy. Luckily he's pretty much done by the end of the first verse, which leaves Rihanna plenty of time and space to wipe up after him. Consideration is, after all, the heart of the Featurist manifesto.
This, while appearing to be a classic example of Featurism, works differently to the corporate, brand-alliance model of pop collaboration we've just been looking at. What you've got here is your dance producer - Mr Afrojack, to you - and his singing partner. Clearly he is not singing, and equally clearly, he cannot let anyone assume that Afrojack is the name of a band, so that is why Eva gets her namecheck. It is as if Afrojack is the director of a film, and Eva is the star. Oh, speaking of stars...
What's surprising about all of this mutual back-slappery is that Flo Rida, normally a guaranteed plus-1 to any musical endeavour, is not included. Instead he has chosen to put out a record by himself, the brave little soldier.
Flo Rida ft. NO-ONE - 'Turn Around (5,4,3,2,1)' (overly bottomy video, so no link, soz)
OK, it turns out he's sampled another '80s classic - 'Oh Yeah' by Yello, which is more commonly known as the "bom-bom chickentikka" song from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. So it's not like he's without a security blanket. What's slightly bizarre is that you get about two thirds of the way through the song and things suddenly start to sound a bit bereft, as if something - or someONE - should really pop in at that point with some new noises.
OMG were the Featurists right all along?
In other news: Akon has a new single out called 'Angel', in which he doesn't hold hands with anyone, and he sings about how strange it is that his girl has wings. But as there is no guest, it clearly doesn't really exist.