Beyoncé, "Check on Me"; T-Pain, "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)"

A great many people of good faith (idiots) heard ardor and bliss and innovation in Beyoncé's Rich Harrison-produced "Crazy in Love." I found it likable enough but about as crazy as keeping an up-to-date city map in the glove compartment. If that's a depiction of romantic zeal, then I'm crazy in love for Healthy Choice Hearty 7-Grain bread, which tastes fine. Well, no matter. History or perhaps psychology will judge "Crazy in Love" a warm-up for Amerie's passionate, Rich Harrison-produced "1 Thing."

History will further judge "Check on Me," Beyoncé's current chart-buster, to be the finest Knowles-related single since "Say My Name." If it doesn't, at least I will. Joined by Houston compatriot Slim Thug, the famously callipygian singer and art-cinema thespian imagines what it must be like for gentleman callers to admire her ass. "While I turn around you watch me check up on it," she sings, "Ooh, you watching me shake it/I see it in your face, you can't take it/It's blazing, you watch me in amazement." I'm grateful for this lyric because it inspired the cheeky neologism "arse-cissism," for which I will someday be properly acknowledged (punished). And yet I'd counter that nothing is as unbecoming as vanity. Except warts. Beyoncé's rat-a-tat vocals and Sam Cooke-y closing flourishes are beautiful, yet befitting the song's bottom-focus, the best thing about it is its bass line, extra deep and, in a period larded with minor-key low end, refreshingly major--just G happily up to D again and again until the listener is driven simply crazy, crazy in love.

T-Pain's "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)" offers a variation on the 21st-century strip-club anthem by ogling more admiringly than abusively, which isn't exactly progress. In his incompetent cameo, Mike Jones brags that he never has to pay when frequenting erotic-dance emporiums, which is a lousy way to show a peeler luv. It's unclear whether T-Pain intends to compensate his crush for accompanying him home "to do that night thing" (stargazing). The chorus and harmony vocals are strangely pretty, though, and rhyming "rollin'" with "pole an'" is something along the lines of inspired.

 
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