Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Shania Twain—everyone’s taking a ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ these days

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Doo doo heads: Justin Timberlake, Shania Twain, Kid Rock Associated Press

If Lou Reed was the “original wrapper,” as he claimed way back in 1986 (a delusion—not because he didn’t wrap but because so many had wrapped before him), not all that many unoriginal rappers seem to have noticed.

On their 1990 debut album, A Tribe Called Quest did sample his biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” for “Can I Kick It” (now with or without question mark, depending which streaming service you use). And three years later Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch took a similarly Reed-interpolating moral warning called “Wild Side” to #10 on Billboard’s Hot 100—three ladder rungs higher than Lou himself had two decades before, even if nobody remembers anymore.

Thing is, lots of folks now apparently remember “Walk on the Wild Side” regardless. (Maybe it still gets spun on classic rock stations?) Forty-five years down the line, walking on wide sides seems somehow to be undergoing a renaissance, at least with stars on the fuzzy (and frequently now wrappy) borderline of country music, starting with Shania Twain’s back-to-where-she-started-from and doo-d’doo-wopping “Home Now” on Now last September.

In December, 37-year-old country wrap wrookie Walker Hayes went Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” one better on his breakthrough album with a humorous ditty called “Dollar Store,” purchasing silly string, ketchup, key chains, Tylenol, and such like (at least when he didn’t forget about the sales tax) over falsetto wild-side doo-d’doos. It’s one of the funniest of many funny tracks on his hit album Boom, one of the most entertaining country albums of 2017 (and, probably not coincidentally, among the most maligned on stick-up-ass-purist Americana websites).

Between Shania and Walker, in November, Kid Rock—whose ramp-up to his so far unsuccessful (though that could change as it often does with him) Sweet Southern Sugar included a bogus Republican senate bid in Michigan which he soon abandoned—repeatedly discussed hearing “Walk on the Wild Side” on the radio while driving on the boulevard past rusty fences of rail yards in his obligatory nationalistic “American Rock ‘n Roll.” He voted in favor of Delta blues, blue suede shoes, and sweet emotion, none of which particularly figure here.

But the Kid's sound still does, at least if you consider a couple songs on the (actually quite good) new Justin Timberlake album, just released this Super weekend. “The Hard Stuff,” co-written by Chris Stapleton, is pretty much as Kid Rock a ballad as you could get. But Man of the Woods’ title track is where the ex-N ‘Syncer gets all Lou on you, reminding you he’s a “Southern man” who “lets the beat ride like…”—well, like the “Walk on the Wild Side” bassline.

Shaving legs so he was a she must be just around the corner, right? On county radio, even? Let’s hope so. Just please don’t mention “colored girls.”

Also, somebody sample that sax solo, already!


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