Sideshow Podcast: “Rude” by Magic! Is the Worst Best Song of the Summer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 08:00 AM

'Rude' by Magic! "Rude" by the Canadian band Magic! is the most loved and hated song in America (YouTube)

A few weeks ago, “Rude” by the band Magic! managed to unseat Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” as the #1 song in the United States. While most songs of the summer have a honeymoon period before they face mass eye-rolling, “Rude” seems to have skipped right to divorce court. Slate scolded the entire country: “America, we need to talk about our taste in reggae music.” But no criticism has been quite as cutting as Jia Tolentino's. In a screed titled “Why I Have to Be So Rude” on The Hairpin, she wrote:

Rude is a reggae song the way a gas station taquito is a formal expression of Mexican cuisine. It’s a pop object with no content and only as much form as is necessary to deliver brief chemical gratification.

The song’s plotline isn’t doing it any favors: the singer begs his girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage without ever asking the bride herself. But Tolentino’s biggest problem with “Rude” is its lack of irony. “The great thing about pop music is that it’s not self-serious. It’s conscious of itself as a performance, and it’s fun,” she says. “’Rude’ violates all three of those tenets.” Case in point: the band’s lazy and cliché-ridden music video plucked straight out of the late 90s. In a bad way.

Yet even Tolentino has to admit that “Rude” has a highly infectious melody. Magic!’s frontman, Nasri, has been a one-man, one-name hit factory, writing hugely successful songs for Pitbull, Justin Bieber, Shakira, and others. Tolentino sees that as part of the problem. She suggests that Nasri’s ability to adapt to different pop stars’ styles has left his own songwriting soul hollow. “If the thing that makes you famous isn’t the thing you care about most deeply, there’s nothing behind it.”

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Comments [8]

Rob Ankrom from Portland

What is truly "Rude"?-- 360 devoting this throw-away piece of "journalism" to a vacuous song I knew nothing about until I found it on YouTube... hey, what was I just discussing?... oh, yeah-- wait... I forgot again... lucky me.

Sep. 03 2014 12:33 AM
David Conrad from Austin, TX

I'm so glad I wasn't the only person who hated this song with a passion. I don't hate pop music, I regularly listen to the Billboard Top 10 and I like about half of it in any given week, but this song was just so offensive and stupid and wretched in a way that most songs aren't.

Sep. 01 2014 11:01 PM
Joe

It think most people will agree that most top 40 pop music is simply bad. Why single out Rude? Seems like you could repeat this podcast for almost every song hitting the pop charts.

Aug. 28 2014 04:24 PM
Cervantes

Jia not Jill

Aug. 27 2014 10:12 AM
Cervantes

Jill......sounds as if she reeks of cynicism,[no do-do Sherlock,rt?] Ugh... so typical of a type of post-mod Urban American woman,that simply bores the poop out of me.

Aug. 27 2014 10:11 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

Slate needs to be savvier than to include this as "reggae music": Magic! should really be filed away with the Sublime, and any weekend white boy seaside cover band you'd find on the east coast some boozy Saturday night. Yes Jia Tolentino is correct, but guess what: that's why we call this Pop music.

The thing that I really took to about this band, and will defend Magic! for, is the exact thing Sean Rameswaram skewers them on: their seriousness. In our age where it's so hard to be original that bands can't refer to a musical style without laughing sarcastically afterward like they're kinda joking, (think The Darkness, The Scissor Sisters, Chromeo) I leapt out of my Rainbow flip flops and said "Amen bro!" when I heard "Rude." No, these guys aren't joking: It's for real and I find that really refreshing. They're 100% frat house fake reggae snobbery with a sensitive side-rock stars. What's more, they can carry a tune and now they got their 15 minutes of fame.

Aug. 26 2014 09:18 AM
Paul from manalapan nj

I'd never consider myself a pop music fan. Pop music is not a genre of music, just a commercial form. knowing this guy wrote song for a few others makes all kind of sense, i dont like any of those he wrote for.

music may have been bad for pop music this summer but it hasnt for trance and electro

Aug. 26 2014 08:38 AM
mark

All of the supposed 'songs of summer' are downright awful this year. Maybe it's because I recently turned 40 but they hurt my ears.

Aug. 26 2014 08:05 AM

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