Monday, September 28, 2009

20. Outkast "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)" (2000)

Ever since the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and Beck's Odelay, the kaleidoscopic mixture of rap, rock, funk, and fill-in-the-blank genres has been seen as a gold standard for excellence. It's become a cliché to praise "genre-bending" music. On the surface, it seems to make sense to applaud an artist or band, who is more comfortable in one style of music, for widening their palate and integrating styles to create something novel. Yet, novelty is not enough. Paul's Boutique and Odelay were notable for the assured and seamless fusion of styles that it made them almost uncategorizable.

"Bombs Over Baghdad" is the case in point. Remove Andre 3000's and Big Boi's vocal track and what's left is -- what exactly? A dance song? At 155 BPM, it's fast enough to classify. But the gospel choir chorus betrays something that is, well, weirder. Possibly some variation of jungle music? But the electric guitar and buoyancy of the mood betrays something that is, well, weirder still.

"Bombs Over Baghdad" is a frenzied, apocalyptic, presciently-titled rave-up. I refuse to attempt to parse its lyrics. Much like R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It," it's nonsense. Exciting and joyous nonsense. But nonsense, nonetheless.

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