Timbaland’s “The Way I Are”

Timbaland / The Way I Are / May 2007
The Way I Are

Driving in traffic can be a listless activity unless you have some good tunes to rock out to. On one particular lazy afternoon, the sun finally shining bright, reflecting millions of burning rays into my eye balls, waiting for the light to turn green so my vehicle could crawl three inches forward, I had actually forgotten to bring any of my CDs along with me and was forced to turn to pop music’s least common denominator: the radio. With the advent of internet and satellite radio, Chicago is lucky it has the two Top 40 stations left it does, but nary a rock station in sight. With commercials on endless loop on the sole 80s/90s station, I was forced to tune into one of those Top 40 stations. A techno beat warmed up as I caught the signal, with a throbbing club beat and unmistakable “Yeah!” I thought, a “SexyBack” remix. I might be able to stomach this. And then Timbaland’s voice came in rapping on his own and a tune oh so similar, yet just tweaked so, came in and I thought, well, I guess this must be a variation of a new song.

After enjoying the melody and beat of the song, which are infectious, light-hearted and demand a foot-tap or two, my ears actually started to listen to the words of the song. And that’s pretty much where I started to hate the song. “I don’t need the cheese on the crackers, boy, I like you just the way you are” croons a female in response to Timbaland’s outlandish confession that he can’t afford flowers, doesn’t own a credit card, and will never be able to take his baby-girl anywhere exotic, but at least he, like, really and totally loves her more than anyone else, enough to even buy a whole new car that he can’t afford before letting her lose a single one of her precious, non-Pamela Anderson-like pounds. It is all of these ridiculous lyrics running rampant throughout the song that really strike me as the most ironic: is the listener honestly supposed to believe that a man involved in two of last year’s highest-selling pop albums can’t afford to buy a house? Can’t afford a car?! Can’t afford to take his lady out on a date?!!

I have the same problem with this song as I had with Fergie’s “Glamorous,” though the adjustments that I would make to each are opposites. While both songs are admittedly radio-friendly and stocked with catchy hip hop choruses and celebrities currently bigger than any one ego can afford, Fergie’s blatant attempt to convince us that she is still Jenny From the Block even though she flies first class and pops champagne daily can do with a large dose of satire; how great would that song be if she was actually mocking the ‘glamorous’? How brilliant would that be if she was making fun of the champagne, the caviar, and the lettuce to support her shoe fetish? Instead, the song is another ode to making it big and feeling some sort of residual guilt over leaving her drug-addicted, Taco Bell life behind. Timbaland’s song is so obviously a modern day rendition of “I Got You Babe”; yes, the idea is sweet, but surely you can’t be serious?

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