Summer of 2013 is upon us and it appears the fight for “Song of the Summer” is going to come down to a battle between two veterans of the game. While Mariah Carey’s “#Beautiful” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Live It Up” sound nothing like each other, the songs share a surprising number of similarities.
Let’s Get It On!
Mariah – The kind of laid back, groovy intro that will make you say “Turn that up!” when it comes on during a summer road trip.
J-Lo – An over-the-top, almost silly, spoken word piece that that reiterates Drake’s “YOLO” in a way that won’t make sense to anyone with even elementary school level cognitive abilities.
Mariah – Mimi gets the opening round based solely on the fact that her intro is not based on a saying emblazoned on neon tank tops marketed to people young enough to be her kids.
Mariah – Replaces the vocal gymnastics (aka “Showing Off”) of her early career with the breezy and sultry vibe of her later work. Some fans of people that can “Really Sang It!” might disapprove of the change, but this kind of restraint actually works perfect for a summer anthem.
J-Lo – Somebody should tell her Jay-Z declared Auto Tune “D.O.A.” years ago.
Mariah in a landslide.
Mariah – Miguel is an R&B singer of Hispanic descent that was a surefire one-hit-wonder after his first album that came back two years later to redefine the genre of progressive R&B.
J-Lo – Pitbull is a rapper of Hispanic descent that was a surefire one-hit-wonder after the fall of the Lil’ Jon/Crunk era that came back a few years later to redefine the genre of dance/pop rap.
Mariah – No offense to Mr. Worldwide, but Miguel generally aims a little higher than songs tailor made to rock Bar Mitzvahs, Sweet 16’s and Bachelorette Parties, and he usually hits the mark.
Collaborator’s Hair Cut
J-Lo – Pitbull pulls off the baldhead better than anybody since ONYX.
Mariah – Miguel has the same haircut as Alicia Keys
J-Lo by a mile.
Worst Lyric About The Singer’s Body
Mariah – “With an A$$ like that / And a smile so bright…” (sung by Miguel)
J-Lo – “I know you like my bumper / Don’t be ashamed” (sung by J-Lo)
Mariah – Forcing your collaborator to rap/sing about your body is one thing, actually doing it yourself is something totally different. J-Lo seemed to have this idea mastered about a decade ago when Ja Rule started his verse on “Ain’t It Funny” with “It must be the A$$…” but it seems Lopez has forgotten about this distinction…or she couldn’t convince Pitbull to do it.
Worst Lyric Overall
Mariah – “I like when you run red lights…” Not many Pop/R&B songs extol the virtues of reckless driving.
J-Lo – Pretty much any line from the previously mentioned asinine intro.
J-Lo – While her version of “YOLO” is not good, at least it doesn’t involve the possibility of vehicular homicide.
J-Lo – Judged a few generally well received seasons of American Idol
Mariah – Judge on what is generally accepted as the worst season of American Idol, involving a winner people have already forgotten, low ratings and a supposed “feud” with Nicki Minaj that basically amounted to a few snide comments and some tame eye rolling.
J-Lo wins this round, but you know what’s better than being on a “good” season of American Idol? Not being on American Idol!
Mariah – Nick Cannon
J-Lo – Mark Anthony or Chris Judd or Puffy or Ben Affleck or that back-up dancer (not Chris Judd, the other one) or Ohani Noah (note: if you immediately recognize that name you are waaaay too into pop culture).
Mariah – Cannon’s work ethic (he’s on like 5 shows and the radio) combined with the fact that he probably had posters of the singer on the wall of his Nickelodeon dressing room back in the day and now he’s married to her make him the clear winner of this round.
Mariah – Ariana Grande: The former Nickelodeon star whose vocals on current radio hit “The Way” sound so much like Mariah that some fans thought it was actually her.
J-Lo – Becky G: The young west coast rapper flips the same sample as Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block” and updates the concept for a new generation on “Becky from the Block”
Mariah – Grande probably has what it takes to stick around for a minute. Not sure the same can be said for Becky.
Mariah – Carey “dances” (basically swaying and moving seductively) on a classic car and motorcycle trying to seduce Miguel. While Nick Cannon is most likely unhappy with this video treatment, it basically works for the song.
J-Lo – In typical J-Lo fashion, she goes HARD! Multiple costume changes, intricate choreography and tons of back-up dancers (maybe she will marry one) combine to make it a visually arresting piece.
Mariah – This was a tough one to call because both videos have the same concept … “Look how hot I am after having twins.” But J-Lo has gone H.A.M. in every video since the late 90’s while Mariah has been going Ham Sandwich for the last few years. In a battle that basically comes down to Jenny from the Block vs. Jenny Craig, Mariah wins because this video is the diet company’s best commercial ever.
Mariah – A few scattered televised performances (most without Miguel) involving evening gowns, basic swaying and, according to the internet, lip syncing.
J-Lo – Massive extravaganzas at every possible venue including Pitbull, pyrotechnics, gymnastics equipment, more people on stage than Wu-Tang Clan and, according to anyone that has eyeballs, lip syncing.
J-Lo – This match-up is basically like an NBA Summer League game between an undrafted rookie and a veteran with a guaranteed contract. J-Lo is trying way too hard and Mariah appears to not be trying at all.
The easy answer is that the laid back vibe of “#Beautiful” is the perfect song for summer days, while the intensity of “Live It Up” is perfect for hot summer nights. But that would be unfair at this point.
Overall, both songs are great examples of why these two divas are still relevant at this point in their careers and their ability to seek new collaborators and produce material for an audience half their age is truly impressive. While this is the third Pitbull/J-Lo collaboration (actually mentioned on the song) and Lopez has released at least a dozen hard driving dance-pop hits in her career, “#Beautiful” sounds completely fresh and like a new career direction for one of the best singers of all time. So, based on that originality and the fact that it’s less likely to make you want to gouge your eyes out by Labor day, the Song of Summer 2013 is…
-Angelo (Twitter: @Mr5thRound)