Let’s Analyze the Lyrics of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”

LMFAO
Posted on 07/12/2011 at 9:11 AM

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The Popdust Files: close readings, lmfao, party rock anthem

LMFAO’s album is called Sorry For Party Rocking. Most of the people who made “Party Rock Anthem” the No. 1 song in the country will never hear another song from the album. Most of them will never count “Party Rock Anthem” among their very favorite songs; many won’t even remember it months later. Few people, in fact, can remember any of the lyrics other than the title. Yet somehow “Party Rock Anthem” is the No. 1 song in the country, meaning untold millions are being moved right now by words like:

Party rock is in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time
And we gon’ make you lose your mind
Everybody just have a good time

It’s hard to picture an LMFAO fan, meaning someone who sees LMFAO as something other than a novelty. The two members of the group are related to Berry Gordy, Jr. of Motown fame, which suggests that they’d either make it big or languish amid tabloid-filler “Famous Kids Of Famous People” features. But instead they call themselves Redfoo and SkyBlu. They name their group after an NSFW acronym. They dress like Ke$ha. Their last two hits consisted mainly of “SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS-SHOTS-SHOTS!” and “I’mma party and party and party and pa- and pa- and party.” They were nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Album but lost. All this is in the service of “party rock,” which is really important to them—they make party rock for the sake of party rock as long as the party and/or rocking persists. And as everyone has joked, neither LMFAO nor America are sorry for this. For enough of the country to create a No. 1 song, party rock matters.

What is “party rock”? LMFAO are circular; they call it a way of partying. Urban Dictionary is never circular; they call it cocaine. Over and over in “Party Rock Anthem,” LMFAO tells us that “party rock is in the house tonight.” Not the club, not the “place” even, but the house, because “Party Rock Anthem” is expressly written for frat houses and student housing, even though LMFAO eventually makes it to the club during the verses that nobody remembers. Party rock, being in the house, is thus an entity. Or a person, even, and the “we” that shows up later on suggests that party rock is in fact LMFAO and “Party Rock Anthem” is an anthem to themselves.

Tight jeans, tattoo, cause I’m rock and roll
Half black, half white, domino
Gain the money, out the door

As a paean to LMFAO, “Party Rock Anthem” works wonders—the first verse introduces us to them and how they see themselves. They’re half black, half white. They have tight jeans and tattoos. They’re rock enough to make a Led Zeppelin pun, square enough to call it “rock and roll,” hip hop enough to claim “devilish flow” and knowing enough to make a “no halo” pun. They consume multiple rounds of both shots and drinks in cups—red cups, obviously; of course they don’t use mugs, or tumblers, or cocktail glasses. Party rock is casual. In verse one, our party rockers casually saunter into the club and onto “your girl,” who fawns over LMFAO until she doesn’t. So LMFAO instead get money, without explanation, then leave to concentrate some more on party rock. It’s no big deal; they have other women. LMFAO compare their sexual prowess to Drano, which suggests that either LMFAO see their women as dirty sinks, that LMFAO are made of corrosive chemicals or that their signature dance involves hawking down scum. None of this is meant to seem at all weird.

Several occasions of party rocking later, we hear about LMFAO’s signature dance. (It is not unclogging or clogging.) It is shuffling—the Melbourne Shuffle, not that anyone’ll know besides the sort of people who Wikipedia “Party Rock Anthem.” It might as well be the Kansas City Shuffle, or the shuffling of cards or the trudge of feet. It can be anything. The video shows us a bit of LMFAO’s idea of shuffling, but it also shows us zombies, which appear nowhere in the song. There is no other explanation of “shuffling,” but LMFAO mumble-mouths it nevertheless. Every day, they’re shuffling. You can shuffle, too; it’s the same process as party rocking, which means imitating LMFAO.

One more shot for us, another round
Please fill up my cup, don’t mess around
We just wanna see you shake it now
Now you wanna be—you’re naked now!

By verse two, listeners are far enough into “Party Rock Anthem” to allow it a bit more airplay, or total streams, or revenue if you’re dedicated or dull. They’ve already done a round of jitter synths and probably a round of something stronger to match it. So it seems perfectly normal for LMFAO to cut their verse short and return to the house/club/place again to drink and womanize more. They turn buying drinks into a carnival-barker boast—step right up and LMFAO will get you trashed!—and gleefully announce how everyone’s suddenly naked. In the bridge, they lead a dance of getting up, getting down and raising one’s hands that, if taken literally, turns the shuffling into something more like naked Roman-bath jumping jacks. They don’t even commit to “getting down” more than three times. It’d be more steps to remember, and “Party Rock Anthem” is all about doing little and remembering less.

Step up fast and be the first girl to make me throw this cash
We get money, don’t be mad, now stop—hatin’ is bad.

LMFAO seem like a strange choice for the country’s most popular, influential musicians. They lack the starpower of Katy Perry, Rihanna or Lady Gaga. They have neither Pitbull’s longevity, nor his standing among peers. The two featured artists on “Party Rock Anthem” are so unknown they might as well be you and your roommate (their names are Lauren Bennett and GoonRock). LMFAO are lightweights—in fact, “lightweight” is the wrong word, as it implies weight. “Party Rock Anthem” avoids anything problematic or risky. David Guetta played LMFAO for menace in “Gettin’ Over You” (or for substitute apl.de.aps and Taboos, take your pick.) Max Martin or Dr. Luke or Stargate would add menace. But “Party Rock Anthem” isn’t interested in menace. It’s devoted to dumb glee in the way the Black Eyed Peas were devoted to dumb glee before they became devoted to disco. LMFAO’s melodies are singsong. Their harmonies are prettier than they have rights to be. Their laser synths are better suited to light shows than weaponry. They are fun because they are stupid, and if how this works isn’t completely clear, “Party Rock Anthem” will never make sense to you.

“Party Rock Anthem” is in fact utopian, and it’s a utopia that America clearly wants. LMFAO’s world is one where drinking can simultaneously make you “lose your mind” and “have a good time.” (Kids, it’s usually one or the other.) It’s a world where devils and letches and masses of naked people sound PG. It’s a world where LMFAO can talk about their rise to the top and their getting money without expecting to top out at No. 73 with an uptick on the dance charts. LMFAO’s wacky narcissism means that in their utopia, they make a lot of whooshy money, become very famous and recruit imitators. Does this sound like a dystopia? Don’t be mad—hating is bad! It’s too damn hot for hating, anyway. You can mourn the loss of noted non-party rocker Adele atop the charts, or you could join the majority of the country in losing their minds. Whichever choice you make, you won’t be sorry.

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