Mixtapes for Hookers

2003. Song #7 Brings All The Boys To The Yard
November 2, 2009, 5:10 pm
Filed under: design of a decade, lists, music | Tags: , , ,

[The best of 2003 continues with the only great song that year to have been performed by cast members of a daytime soap opera.]

7. Kelis, Milkshake

New York singer Kelis first appeared at the tail end of the last millennium.  Caught Out There–the “I hate you so much right now!!” song–hit #4 on the UK singles chart, but the song had minimal impact stateside. Americans also ignored the follow-up singles from the Kaleidoscope album, and Young Fresh n New, the only single released from her follow-up album, didn’t even do particularly well in Britain.

After two big misses, most R&B singers wouldn’t get the chance to make a third album, but luck was on Kelis’s side. Luck, and her longtime collaborators The Neptunes, who were suddenly in the middle of a very successful run of chart hits. They wrote and produced the whole of her Tasty album, and abruptly the singer transformed from Macy Gray-ish cuckoo to batshit sexpot.

Milkshake is a dirty song, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s hard initially to say exactly how.  The chorus makes no sense, really, unless you take the time to figure out what she means by milkshake, what she means by yard, what it means for the boys to go there, what she might teach you, and what it means for her particular milkshake to be better than yours.  Whoever you are.

Like a lot of great Neptunes songs–from Britney Spears’s Boys to NERD’s She Wants To Move–Milkshake doesn’t take itself too seriously.  It’s too goofy to be genuinely sexy, though during the bridge Kelis enters sultry mode and drops hints about what all the boys in the yard might actually be in for.  It’s just a few seconds, but it demonstrates what makes this song great:  it doesn’t overdo anything.  At just over three minutes, the song is the perfect length, long enough to firmly lodge itself in your head after each listen but short enough that it doesn’t grow tiresome.  The chorus, which is doubled, occurs just four times. That’s eight la la la la la’s and sixteen occurrences of the phrase “better than yours.”  You can’t forget it, but you’re also not bored by the ten thousandth listen.  (Lest we forget, the song was so omnipresent that it even figured into Randy Jackson’s guest appearance on General Hospital.*)

The song also had a really good video.  In a rare instance of a mainstream hip-hop clip not sucking, the Milkshake video matched the song’s wacky attempts at sexiness.  Kelis thrust her boobs around a diner, but the sight of her writhing around on a counter wasn’t as sexy as one might thing.  Added to that are  some exploding frappes, a slight reworking of the suddenly-halfway-through-it-turns-into-a-club hip-hop video trope, and visual punctuation of most of the song’s many ding noises.

Despite its popularity, Kelis didn’t really manage to follow up on the song’s success.  Her next single, Trick Me, tanked despite actually being quite fun, and to date the singer’s only other charting single has been the mildly annoying #19 hit Bossy.

(*This was the second-best pop/soap opera crossover of the decade, at least that I’m aware of.  It’s still not as good as when Days Of Our Lives’ Marlena Evans jumped out of a plane and lost consciousness in a snow drift only to be rescued by Smokey Robinson.  Just FYI.)

2 Comments so far
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Weird. I was just listening to the “Oceania” remix this morning and getting sad at how Kelis just can’t catch a break. I’ll never understand why “Trick Me” (or even “Millionaire”) wasn’t a huge deal. This may be an overstatement, but it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. And yes, I fully recognize that it isn’t necessarily deserving of that title.

Comment by JJS III

Trick Me is? I can see that. I was going to include a paragraph on how she must have the world’s worst management or label backing because there’s no reason she shouldn’t have had more than one hit song after this. But then, you knoe, I didn’t want to be overly wordy.

Comment by mixtapesforhookers

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