T-Pain, Lily Allen and Wiz Khalifa. Bam: attention gotten! Granted, the combination isn’t quite as bizarre as it looks on paper. T-Pain’s been guesting outside R&B ever since he became T-Pain, Ambassador for Auto-Tune, Lily Allen’s guested on rappers’ tracks across the pond, and Wiz Khalifa’s been sober enough to drop in on Tinie Tempah and Cee-Lo tracks. And these motley artists weren’t assembled for a shoe company or horrorcore group with a music festival, but for T-Pain’s upcoming album Revolver. (We leave it to the reader to decide whether that’s an improvement.)
Plausible, of course, is different than good, and “5 O’Clock” isn’t just a conceptual exercise or a scattering of names; it’s a real song, that’s really being played on the radio. Is it really good, or really useless? Listen below:
Astute Lily listeners will notice right away that “5 O’Clock” isn’t a T-Pain track so much as a Lily Allen track–specifically, “Who’d Have Known” from It’s Not Me, It’s You rearranged with guests. It’s a stricter interpretation than, say, “Stan”; T-Pain merely lays his computerized croon atop Allen’s drift of a track, changing the mood little if at all. He’s heavily autotuned, which is absolutely unsurprising; Wiz Khalifa’s contribution is shoved toward the back and not his greatest, which–isn’t really surprising either, judging by precedent. “5 O’Clock” might be a crossover, but T-Pain, Lily and Wiz probably won’t win or lose any fans because of it.
The main departure from Allen’s song is in the lyrics; her “I snuck off to your bedroom, and I thought I’d just wait there” becomes, in T-Pain’s telling, “She’ll be waiting on me naked with one of my chains on.” Reviewers have complained, but the thing is, Allen’s track already suggested all this. Her “I wanna lay in bed all day” probably didn’t mean watching Law and Order, and she’s not crawling into this guy’s bed at 5 a.m. to keep things platonic. This makes “5 O’Clock” more palatable; unfortunately, it also makes it less necessary. As a buzz track, it’s worked as intended, but T-Pain might have been better off promoting “5 O’Clock” as a Lily Allen remix. There’s simply not enough material–good or bad–for it to stand alone.