Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Kids These Days!": Asher Roth

Asher Roth's "I Love College" is the most manipulative, faux-sentimental, pandering shit to hit the airwaves since 2000, when a then-31-year-old woman sang about how sad high school graduation can be, man. Roth deserves credit for one thing--at 23, according to his Wiki, at least his yearning for the glory days of keg stands and dollar slices might be legit.

Too bad it's legitimately retarded.

The genesis of the song was a sample of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." Perhaps Roth thought, not unwisely, that after the most dramatic descent from brilliance into incompetence in alternative rock history Rivers Cuomo would surely clear the sample. But when he asked the Harvard graduate, Cuomo must have said "Yeah, right, you're using my song, and my name is Jonas!" Instead, we're left with a vague approximation of the riff. (Come to think of it, it sounds exactly like the kind of shitty attempt you'd hear from an open dorm window in college, where some asshole annoys you while browsing a guitar tab site and botching rock radio staples.)

At least the music itself stems from a good song. The lyrics are utterly irredeemable. First of all, Asher Roth cannot rap. To rephrase: I am not saying Roth is a bad rapper. I am saying he actually lacks the sense of rhythm, timing and cadence to manipulate his sentences in a way that resembles a single song accepted as hip-hop. His one-note, syllable-a-second delivery has all the vocal mastery of a karaoke sing-along at a bar during $1 pitcher night.

The lyrics, such as they are, indicate Roth was the type of dumbass who coasted by on 12 credits a semester and still took five years to do it. "Thirsty Thursday." "Keg stands." "Chug!" "Freshmen." "Banker's Club." "Miller Lite." The words read like a word cloud of college cliches. In fact, if we head over to Wordle...

"I can't tell you what I learned from school," Roth claims. What he didn't learn is easier to point out: subject-verb agreement ("my good friends is all I need"), slant rhyme (mangling "champion" to "champy-yawn" in a pairing with "beer pong"), and copyright law (the aforementioned sample clearance problems.)

Then again, what do you expect from a song that sports the lyric "time isn't wasted when you're getting wasted," which makes one suspect if the song was inspired by a bumper sticker, or perhaps a particularly profound piece of bathroom graffiti. Following the college theme, if I had to give this song a letter grade, I would defer to Mr. Cuomo's judgment:

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