[6] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

Get Ur Freak On

Here’s something we prepared earlier:

What makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?

Yes.

Junior says: “I need more fingers.” She means thumbs; two thumbs up isn’t enough for this, apparently. It is also “good”.

Best bits: “IN YOUR FACE.” Although it’s one big good bit of pop culture, so picking a particular moment might be slightly, erm, reductive.

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[1] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

For all my efforts, Junior doesn’t quite have the weight of cultural history on her small shoulders, so true innovation won’t astonish her just yet. To her, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ has a slinky groove that makes those unburdened shoulders shimmy, but – as far as artistic impact goes – it faces tough competition from the Rice Krispies.

So, what makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip-hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?

Yes.

[4] Whitney Houston, ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’

Whitney Houston

I’d bought one Whitney Houston single before – ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ – but I don’t even remember liking it. I must have bought it to impress some fresh-faced girl co-starring with me in the local amateur dramatics show. Dear me, too many confessions.

Anyway, after that ‘I Will Always Love You’ musical crime, I certainly didn’t expect to hurtle out to the shops for more Whitney goods. But this redeemed her mortal soul. A razor-sharp, calm look at infidelity, set to an unusually syncopated r&b rhythm, it found a new cutting edge beyond the cutting edge. La Houston was vital again. She cleared a little space for ‘Get Ur Freak On’.

Ignoring Dad’s suggestion that the title sounded like Roy Walker letting a Catchphrase contestant down easily, Junior did some appreciative shoulder shakes and crawled around the room like a ninja arachnid. She gives Whitney a clean slate.