Pop Song Review: Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Here’s another pop song review, guys, and this week it’s Nicki Minaj’s latest, “Anaconda”.

First impressions: You know, given this song’s press and Minaj’s history of making truly repugnant music, I thought I’d hate it more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, I still hated it, but in a passive, “this isn’t worth getting worked up about” sort of way that came as a pleasant-ish surprise. Minaj’s career basically thrives on two things these days: shoving Beats products into her videos; and attention-seeking. We can deny her one of those things. So getting genuinely angry about this piece of nothing is probably not worth anybody’s time. Instead, let’s just quietly discuss why it sucks and move on.

The music: The beat is taken directly from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, and I feel confident in saying that if you’ve heard that song and any of Minaj’s other songs, then you know exactly what “Anaconda” sounds like. Sure, there’s a few skips and jumps, but it’s essentially “Baby Got Back” with some different rapping, so now there’s no need for you to click that video up there and add to its view count that contributes to its chart placing thereby making sure we don’t get any more of this d’yer understand okay bye bye.

Now, confession time here: I actually don’t mind “Baby Got Back.” It’s fun, in its own strange little way, and just dorky enough to bat off any serious accusations of sexism. But here’s the thing: if I wanted to listen to “Baby Got Back”, I’d just go listen to that song. Minaj (or her songwriters, at least) rips the beat and does absolutely nothing new or interesting. It’s just there to draw comparisons because hey, that song was about big butts, and so is this one. It’s akin to reference humour, essentially – and reference humour is about as lazy as comedy gets these days. Only sarcasm is lazier, I think, but at least sarcasm has some bite to it every now and then.

Also, because there’s no melody here to write about, I have to comment on Minaj’s flow instead. Now, I’m not a rap expert by any means, but her flow is horrendous on this track. At least on her other songs it was aggressively annoying, so you could at least appreciate that she was trying to rub you the wrong way. Here it’s just like, “yeah, butts butts, whatever, wheee”. It’s just so lazy, stupid and ugly, all of it – and no, White Knights, I’m not referring to Minaj herself (although I don’t find her attractive or sexy in the slightest either. More on that never).

One last point to make in this section: on his YouTube show, This Song Sucks, Luke Giordano recently made an interesting observation about modern pop music – that being irritating has now replaced being catchy after the former kidnapped the latter, murdered it and started wearing its skin as a disguise. Even though that was intended as a joke, “Anaconda” makes me wonder if there really is some conspiracy out there to replace catchy, interesting hooks with mantras and beats that hammer into your brain again and again until you’re so peeved off you’re almost forced to remember them. “Anaconda” is more concerned with annoying you than entertaining you because, by being as terrible and abrasive as possible, at least you remember the song… and yet, somehow, it doesn’t even care enough to succeed at that deplorable enterprise: it’s so boring and tuneless, all I remember are the parts she swiped from “Baby Got Back”. Yes, I keep referring back to that song but, in fairness, so does she.

The lyrics: Here’s the lyrical depth of this song, the crux of it all: Nicki Minaj exists, does a bunch of crazy stuff in her spare time, and has a large butt. She is particularly keen for you to notice this sizeable rear of hers. In fact she is so keen for you to notice that she has gone to the effort of slapping together something resembling a song devoted to the promotion of said engorged hind-quarters so that you may notice them and… I don’t know, jump at them or something?

Obviously the main lyrical hook (and from it, the title of the song) comes from “Baby Got Back”, because again, that song was about big butts and this one is too – except the “anaconda” mention in that song was a metaphor for something else, with only a tangential connection to big butts, so it doesn’t really warrant naming the song after it. Yeah, yeah, the anaconda don’t want none unless you know, big butts, herp a derp, whatever, but it’s still dumb.

But wait, you want me to review the lyrics? Analyse them real good? Sorry, but this song doesn’t engender enough interest in me to fully commit that. I’ve looked them over and it all amounts to the same word salad of hip hop clichés you’ve heard everywhere else. I’ve analysed Renaissance poetry and even I could barely wade through that bracken of tired gibberish she calls a set of lyrics. Here, read ’em if you like. You figure them out.

The one thing I will say, though, is this: for a song so ostensibly about big butts, the verses have astonishingly little to say about the subject. In fact, big butts aren’t even mentioned until the “chorus” kicks in, at which point the song suddenly realises what it’s supposed to be about and just straight up demands that we “look at her butt”. Lazy, dumb, tired… shall I go on? No. No I shall not. I’ve wasted far too much word space on this song as it is.

Verdict: Yeah, this is awful. An easy 0 out of 5, the repulsive effect of “Anaconda” would have been more potent were it not so tedious and nondescript – several listens later I can still barely remember how it goes. I’m guessing the song and video are supposed to be deliberately stupid in a self-knowing, ironic sort of way, because the whole thing is just so brain-rottingly bad I refuse to believe actual human beings thought this was anything approaching a quality product; but deliberately stupid things are still stupid and I can’t condone that. Just… let’s just forget this thing ever existed, okay? Can we do that? I think we can do that.

This week’s double up is Judas Priest’s “Snakebite”. Yeah, anacondas don’t bite their victims to death, but it’s a more solid connection to said animal than anything that song I reviewed has.

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