Did you REALLY need that guest verse? Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly – Cruise (Remix)
Did you know you can make a pop hit WITHOUT a guest rap verse in it? Haha, that was a joke–in 2013, you can’t! These verses immediately make any song “edgier” and therefore more playable, but do they really make it better? The answer: it depends. That’s why every week I’ll take a look at whatever new hot pop song is tearing up the airwaves and rate from 1 to 10 how much the song REALLY needed its guest verse.
DISCLAIMER: In this post I will attempt to take the band name Florida Georgia Line seriously. It’s way too ridiculous to take seriously in real life, but I’m afraid that if I started unloading every corny joke I’ve got, then well, I’d be here for awhile. So consider this restraint a New Blog Resolution.
Florida Georgia Line had it all: a guy from Florida, a guy from Georgia, a brand-new Chevy with a lift kit, and the most successful debut country single ever in Cruise. But maybe after ten weeks atop the country charts, they grew tired of watching bikinis popping right out of the south Georgia water (did the Florida guy push hard for “north Florida water?”) and admitted to themselves that there was something missing.
They needed a Line.
Wait, shit. I wasn’t supposed to do that … … … Fuck it. Time to take it a step further.
They found one: NELLY.
The history of country music and hip hop is neither long nor illustrious. (That said, I see you Jason Aldean and Ludacris!) Nevertheless, when Florida and Georgia decided they needed a Line, Nelly saw this as a chance to confirm GOAT status in the country-rap genre (aka CRAP?). Wait, you say. Confirm? Yes. You see, this is not Nelly’s first CRAP (I’m keeping it) collaboration. The truly ancient among you might remember his first, and still greatest, hit was 2000’s Country Grammar. But that’s not actually CRAP, just a hint that he was open to the idea. His crowning achievement in the genre, in fact THE crowning achievement in the genre, came four years later. I hope I’m not showing you anything new:
Nelly made a statement with this song and video. This isn’t about highlighting the differences between hip hop and country: this is about showing the potential for remarkable similarity, both in musical stylings and life. Tim and Nelly wake up together! They wear do-rags together! They sing the chorus together! Nelly probably made up for at least 75 seconds of slavery with this video, which, trust me, is more than you’ve done. Oh, but just to make sure no one thought that he hadn’t quite ventured the way from CRAP to *whisper it* modern country, he did this too:
Not simply awkward. Not boringly seamless. But awkward to the point of seamlessness.
That’s why Over and Over was the CRAP GOAT.
With the Cruise remix, NelLine outdid himself. Let’s remember seamless awkwardness and go through a video checklist: 1. Plausible rapport established between Line and FlaGa via a phone call in which Nelly replaces the words “All right,” with something like “Oaheh” and then says “Yo I was checkin out the Cruise video mane, hey dat thing the deal bruh. I think we need to turn it up though, whadcha think?” Check. 2. Equal-opportunity objectification of women via the inclusion of both white and black models in skimpy outfits? Check. 3. Country solidarity via Line donning a denim shirt? Check. 4. Hip hop solidarity via Line and Georgia making swagged out circular motions while Florida shouts an obscenity?
Of course, I could analyze the video all day long, but then I’d be missing the point of this exercise. The question is whether Nelly’s verse makes the song itself better. When I’m driving around with my radio turned up, what gets me more excited: the original Cruise or CRAP Cruise? It’s best to look at what Nelly’s verse replaces. In the original’s bridge, FlaGa break it down into a classic modern country campfire sing-along ballad complete with parked cars and loving looks between artist and muse. Instantly, we’ve switched from rollicking good time buddy song to Alabama-style let’s-get-serious monogamous crooning. It just feels off for this particular song and even more off for any kind of a pop radio adaptation.
Nelly, what with his keen feel for the sentiment at the heart of any song, understands that what’s most needed is the complete opposite: a verse to speed things up. Sexual excitement has only been building since the song’s first chord, so why doesn’t he ratchet it up all the way, faster, faster, faster, with a bunch of little “Yeah, yeah, yeahs” before his verse and then slobbering lines like “I like saw all that, all that / head to toe, you all that” and “So come on shawty let me show you what the fast like” until, and this is the genius part… he catches himself. It’s as if one of Fla and Ga tapped him on the shoulder mid-verse and said “Whoa whoa whoa Line! Remember, this song is called Cruise.” Snap back to reality (mid-verse!) and Line’s back posin’ with his new boys, cooly rap-singing the almost definitely metaphorical line “Whipping ‘cross the border / Florida into Georgia” before bouncing back and setting them up before the final chorus with one of pop music’s great, shit’s-about-to-explode break-downs: “‘Cause you make me wanna roll my / Roll my / ROLL MY / RA-RA-RA-OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Questions remain about the future viability of CRAP. But no questions remain as to its reigning king. Florida and Georgia put out a song that got Nelly hot and bothered, and rather than wither back into his safe space of generic sing-song radio hip hop, he realized that all three of these country boys wanted the same damn thing and powered through with a verse that unceasingly escalated into the bombastic orgasmic climax that Cruise always deserved. Long live Line.
Rating: 9 out of 10.