John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats makes a list of reasons R Kelly’s Ignition (Remix) is a fantastic song. No, really:
2. Writing a good “weekend” song is hard to pull off. I fear that the guy who prompted me to begin this thread will say “Nonsense! Anybody can write a good ‘weekend’ song!” When I see his “weekend” song on the charts, I will concede his point. Until then, I’ll note that many, many “weekend” songs are released each year, but very few of them actually poke their heads above the surface. This is because most of them sound forced. R Kelly’s greatest gift is his ability to sound natural; engaged; genuine. Even when he’s singing in a very mannered fashion.
3. How is this song in particular a good “weekend” song? For starters, there’s the delay in mentioning the weekend. Note a shitty “weekend” song, Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend,” for purposes of comparison, which shoots its entire wad in the chorus’ first line & then has nothing compelling to say.
4. Not so “Ignition – Remix.” R Kelly delays the song’s moment of revelation until the chorus’s second to last line
6. “it’s not rocket science” right right insofar as rocket science is boring
8. Of course Kelly knows that it's funny to lead of a chorus with a line like “this is the remix to ignition.” Kelly’s whole persona, aside from his public/non-album one which has gotten completley away from him, is a greatly controlled, beautifully constructed thing. It’s the good-time-lovin’/deep-thoughts-thinkin’/survived-it-and-came-to-tell-you-how-it-looks-from -the-mountaintop friend from your own neighborhood, assuming that your neighborhood was a poor neighborhood in the midwest. (More on this momentarily.) He knows his audience, and his audience wants him to keep it light when he’s making a party song. That’s what this is about.
9. Here’s where that “more on this momentarily” comes in. Your neighborhood probably wasn’t Kelly’s poor midwestern block, right? Wrong! Of course it was! Because he goes to great pains to universalize that neighborhood, not through long dull paragraphs like these you’re presently reading, but by the miraculously casual tone in which he delivers songs that are anything but casual. Try “The World’s Greatest”: think there was no malice-of-forethought behind the “ad-libbed” part at the end where he substitutes “I done made it” for “I made it”? Think again. That’s there by design. It sells you exactly what you’re accusing Kelly doing accidentally: it convinces you (successfully, I’d add) that there's no artifice, no craft to it.
10. Therefore, R Kelly has won and the terrorists have lost.
14. And then we enter into the levels of reference again, which is where I get completely dizzy “Rollin’ on 24s/while they say on the radio”: what do they say? Oh, good God, they say what critical theory thought they’d say: “This is the remix to igntion”
15. which is to say that the song describes a party where they’re listening to the radio play a song describing a party where they’re listening to the radio playing a a song describing a party where they’re listening to the radio playing a song describing a party and well you get the general idea
17. I take back what I said earlier about the song being dumb
To prove his sincerity, he throws in a stanza from it to close out this “Boys Are Back in Town” cover: