Pop Soundcheck

How scared should we be of the LMFAOcracy?

Perhaps the most prophetic movie of the past ten years is Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. The 2006 comedy revolves around the idea that as society continues to promote anti-intellectualism and extreme commercialism people devolve into a stupider species. The dumbest people will reproduce more rapidly, sullying the gene pool with stupidity and driving future culture into an idiotic dystopia. Unfortunately electropop duo LMFAO wasn’t around at the time of the film’s release, or the band could’ve provided the entire soundtrack for the film.

LMFAO makes loud anthems about getting drunk and partying. They wear crazy clothes. They have wild hair. It’s “fun.”

OK, I’ll admit: it’s almost too easy to call LMFAO banal. The group is becoming a dominant pop culture force. LMFAO already has two number-one hits with “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy and I Know It,” has toured with Ke$ha, and showed up performing alongside Madonna at the Super Bowl halftime show. They’ve won Billboard Music Awards and have watched their songs gain gold and platinum status.

The LMFAO fan’s preloaded response to any of the follow criticisms is probably along the lines of, “Hey man, it’s just about having fun. Stop being such an uptight snob and enjoy it. It’s not supposed to be deep or meaningful.” But it’s not the fact that LMFAO is dumb that’s the issue. There is plenty of great music that plays on being dumb (see: The Ramones). The problem is the way LMFAO obnoxiously assaults listeners with their message.

The Los Angeles electropop duo is assisted by will.i.am — the Black Eyed Peas’ head honcho, who was the executive producer on both LMFAO albums — who is driven by a tireless pursuit to find a simple universal hook and then repeatedly, incessantly blud geon the listener with it over and over and over again.

This is represented in LMFAO’s drinking hit “Shots” (feat. Lil Jon), the chorus of which features Lil Jon yelling “Shots!” sixteen times. Again, again, again. While some argue that there’s a brilliance to tapping into such mindless musical universality, what does it say about our culture when that’s the universality?

“But it’s pop music! It can be vapid, who cares?” Maybe not: look at LMFAO’s Super Bowl partner Madonna. Yes, she makes dirty ditties about sex, but she has often pushed artistic boundaries in blunt ways (“Like a Prayer” video ring a bell?). The only boundary LMFAO has pushed is the number of times the word “shots” can be repeated.

LMFAO’s drinking-motivated attitude is on full display in the title of the group’s second album, Sorry for Party Rocking. Redfoo, half of LMFAO, explains the title on the band’s website:

“Sorry for party rocking is a party person’s excuse for having fun,” explains Redfoo. “It’s the excuse you give when someone complains. Let’s say your parents say ‘stop shuffling upstairs you’re waking me up!’ You can now just say ‘Sorry for party rocking, Mom…sorry for having fun.’” This is when I’d like to point out that Redfoo is 36 years old. That’s another unseemly aspect of LMFAO that undercuts its everyman party persona. Redfoo is the son of Motown founder Barry Gordy and SkyBlu is one of Gordy’s grandsons. Yep, LMFAO is an uncle-nephew band; one related to one of the music’s biggest power brokers in music history. Gaining success via one’s white-collar genealogy makes LMFAO the Mitt Romney of the music industry.

As a culture we spend a lot of time trying to pick apart things we perceive are corrupting young people. What’s the biggest threat? Is it violent video games? Is it sexual messages in TV and film? Or maybe, just maybe, could the most corrupting idea in modern pop culture be that notion that willful stupidity is something that should be celebrated?

LMFAO with Far East Movement, The Quest Crew, Sidney Samson, Eva Simons and Natalia Kills • Fri, June 1, at 7 pm • Spokane Arena • $30-$100 • All-ages • ticketswest.com • (800) 325-SEAT

Live From Somewhere @ Red Room Lounge

Sat., April 17, 6 p.m.
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About The Author

Seth Sommerfeld

Seth Sommerfeld is a freelance contributor to The Inlander and an alumnus of Gonzaga University.