Monday, 7 March 2011

The A-Z Of All-Time Great Pop Singles: B

B is for: "Boom! Shake The Room" - Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

What, no Be My Baby? My choice for "B" presents the perfect
opportunity to confirm an essential aspect of this A-Z, which is that I intend to compile it instinctively, in a first-thought, best-thought sorta way - this is a list of pop songs that matter to me personally, which spring immediately to mind because they're heavily playlisted on mybrain FM, rather than an exercise in advertising what refined taste I have. So I coulda chosen the undeniably wondrous Phil Spector / Ronettes girl-group classic, and almost did...but the truth is what I always really wanted to pick was Boom! Shake The Room, by Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. So I have.

"The f-f-f-f fresh p-p-p-prince is who I am: so tell my mother that I never wrote a wack jam."

Should an alien race ever require the people of earth to provide a sample of our best work, we would bundle William Smith up onto a rocket ship and send him hurtling off into the cosmos, with a suitcase containing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air DVD box-set, Men In Black, 'Summertime', 'Miami' and this record on 12" vinyl, and a note stapled to his t-shirt saying "Now show us what you've got." Will Smith is about as bankable a celebrity as it's possible to imagine, and B!STR is a Very Commercial Record. It's essentially LL Cool J's Momma Said Knock You Out, already a relatively pop rap single, with every pop hook turned up to 11, an explosion for a chorus, and a lead vocal performance by the most charismatic man on the planet. If hip-hop heads wanna grumble about how "sanitised" Will & Jazz's version of Rap Music is here, let 'em. One of pop music's roles is as a gateway drug to harder, more adult kicks. B!STR was a sneaky toke behind the bikesheds for a generation of Fresh Prince teens, who the very next year were probably nodding out in their bedrooms to the sounds of Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg.


Dazzy Hitch said...

Funnily enough, I was only talking to someone the other day about favourite JJ+FP tracks (I'm sad like that). I plumped for the sublime "Parents Just Don't Understand" (the only comedy record that always makes me laugh, no matter how often I hear it), but this was in the mix.

I have to confess that as a pop song, B!STR doesn't do much for me, but as a party record, it delivers a devastating payload - chock-ful of shout-outs & hooks, backed by a fat, thundering bassline designed to send dancefloors mental.

I agree with you about Big Willie too - I've not always liked his shows, films or records, but I always like him. As you say, the guy is Mr Charisma...

Paul 'Fuzz' Lowman said...

Yeah, you're right in all respects - hook-central, and such a massive production. An undeniable dancefloor monster. And you're right that it's really a "party" track too - I guess the definition of "pop" I'm using here is pretty all encompassing. Two A-Z posts down, 24 to go...