Well, you did it, Internet: "Fuck You," rapper/Gnarls Barkley singer Cee-Lo Green's naughty Motown pastiche has officially "gone viral," according to the Associated Press, featuring 1.8 million views. Now, will everyone please stop posting it to Facebook?
"Fuck You," the lead single off of Cee-Lo's new album The Ladykiller, debuted last week on his YouTube page. You probably began to see it on your Facebook feed or your Tumblr dashboard pretty soon after that, and within a couple days the song had been declared, in the words of The Daily Beast's Michelangelo Matos, "the best effing song of the summer." We said it "should have been the song of the summer." Pitchfork called it best new music. YouTube commenters are going nuts for it.
Okay. I get it. It's a toe-tapping kind of a song! It's well-written and cleanly produced and beautifully sung. It's hard not to get some visceral pleasure out of singing "fuck you" at the top of your lungs, either. And Cee-Lo! How can you hate Cee-Lo? Did you see the episode of Sweet 16 with his stepdaughter? If anyone deserves success, it's him.
But here's the thing: This song should not be the song of the summer. Look, I can look past the fact that the lyrical content is boring and borderline misogynistic; that hilarious swears or not, calling a girl a gold digger is the least interesting thing you can call her. I can deal with the sense I get that people are more in love with the idea of a song that hits vague Motown signifiers, but also features a curse word, than they are with the actual song. I'm okay with the knowledge that Bruno Mars, the worst producer of the 21st century, wrote the song. I can even make peace with the fact that "Fuck You" sounds for all the world like Smash Mouth covering an Amy Winehouse B-side.
See, all that stuff would be fine, if it were just a song that a few people passed around and we all heard it a bunch, and enjoyed it, and got sick of it, and never had to listen to it again after this week. But if it becomes "the song of the summer," and it gets featured in an iPod commercial, and runs over the closing credits of American Pie Begins, and they sing it on Glee, and then Cee-Lo is on the Today show and then it turns out that your parents know it and even worse they bought the album and all of a sudden it's completely, utterly inescapable? If that happens, all of those niggling little doubts you had about it, and the gross guitar sound, and the irritating lyrics—all of that stuff will be magnified by a thousand, and all of a sudden it's a lot harder to overlook the feeling it instills inside of you that you have returned to 2007 for some reason and your uncle is playing you some 50s soul revival band he heard on NPR.
But the problem isn't that "Fuck You" is too rickety to survive that kind of overplay. It's that it's designed for that kind of overplay. It's been tailored for insane, unstoppable ubiquity. It's easy; it's peppy; it's toe-tapping; it features a singalong, slightly naughty chorus. This song is, essentially, written to soundtrack a Shrek trailer. And the question is: Do you want to be responsible for that, internet? Do you really want to make viral a song so corny, so obvious, so desperate to be liked that it could actually provide backing music to a CGI ogre voiced by Mike Meyers riffing on whatever last year's most popular movie was? Do you actually want to make "Fuck You" song of the summer? Because if you keep pushing it, it might be. And next summer—next month, really—when you never want to hear it again, you will have no one to blame but yourself.