Music is frustrating. Some artists toil decades before gaining recognition (if they do at all) while others churn out hit tracks like a sweatshop producing cheap toys. The latter group has cracked the formula: They know what people want to hear, and they ride the radio waves to the bank. The radio is replete with these songs.
Sometimes the records are products from talented artists who strike gold with the right amount of radio-ready appeal (see: “Hey Ya” by OutKast). Other times the song is devoid of significant artistic appeal but catchy and kitschy enough to persevere for decades (see: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers). Then there are anomalies, those songs that stay long past their welcome despite little or no redeeming qualities. Let’s call this the Pitbull Paradox.
In early spring 2011, musical impresario/professional city name exclaimer Pitbull struck again, this time with help from Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer. The crime: “Give Me Everything Tonight.” The victim(s): All of us.
“Give Me Everything” is your typical summer song: Star pedigree, the result of an overproduced artistic team with gobs of global appeal and lyrics about drinking too much and making less-than-wholesome decisions. It was a hit. The song reached No. 1 on 17 different charts, and the top three on 18 others. The reviews were mixed at best (NME asked “So, how many types of wrong is this?”) but that did not matter — Pitbull reigned.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. The song stayed on the radio year after year, and today, it can still be heard on 106.1 KISS-FM, Dallas’ reputed “hit music station.” In between hits from Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes and Khalid, you can hear the 2011 stylings of Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer. But unlike other catchy hits of yesteryear, “Give Me Everything” lacks catchiness and kitschiness. This puzzling lack of catch, kitsch and any other redeeming qualities raises the question: Over eight years after its debut, why is “Give Me Everything Tonight” still on the radio?
The default explanation may be that it is, in fact, catchy. Here is a central part of the chorus:
"Grab somebody sexy, tell 'em hey.
Give me everything tonight.
Give me everything tonight.
Give me everything tonight.
Give me everything tonight."
This repetition is a hallmark of pop songs and most music, but those lyrics are not exactly tailor-made for singing in the car on your way to a Pitbull concert (if, for some reason, you were to put yourself through an ordeal like that). Furthermore, given our long overdue heightened awareness of creepy behavior and creepy lyrics, “Grab somebody sexy” and the earlier lines, “Tonight, I want all of you tonight / Give me everything tonight” feel as dated as the lyrics of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” And while that song has a rabid fan base ready to die on the holiday music hill, “Give Me Everything” does not seem to have that fervid support. Are you out there, Pitbull fans? If so, show yourself. Come into the light.
Speaking of lyrics, milquetoast musician/professional loose rhymer Pitbull references the once-popular camera company Kodak and the legal troubles of Lindsay Lohan. In addition to Ne-Yo’s predatory lyrics, these references scream “early 2010s.” Lohan sued Pitbull for the lyric “I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan,” and because Pitbull clearly runs the world, Lohan lost. Yet even though the Mean Girls star has not been in legal trouble in seven years, fans of “hit music” can now hear oh-so-clever and timely references to her jail time between “Old Town Road” and 2019 releases from Taylor Swift.
And then there is the music itself. If you cut out Pitbull’s clever lyrical stylings and Ne-Yo’s cringe-y crooning (we would link the instrumental, but that would be cruel), all you have is GarageBand-style mishmash of subwoofer sounds and the jolly jingle-jangle of an out-of-tune piano. No disrespect to Afrojack (who is 6-foot-10 and surprisingly scary), but it is easier to picture music like this being played on repeat in Guantanamo Bay than lasting eight years on “hit” radio. Yet (presumably) only the latter has happened.
Like any true crime puzzle, there are not many obvious answers. But there are many questions.
Do we need a congressional investigation into why this song has hung around so long? Probably. Did Afrojack and braggadocious bilingual/professional corny sex allusion-maker Pitbull somehow craft the perfect radio song? Possibly. Will “Give Me Everything Tonight” still be on the radio long after the ice caps have melted and the world has been ravaged by unimpeded global warming? Yes.
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