Out with the old music and in with the new. That was the focus of Tuesday night’s episode of “Glee.” And that motto has certainly served the show well this season, as witnessed by the reception for last week’s cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The a cappella version, which featured hot new “Glee” commodity Darren Criss, shot to the top of the iTunes charts and moved an estimated 55,000 copies on its first day alone.
The show once again decided to tap into the well of recent smash hits when they had the cast back up guest star Gwyneth Paltrow , who most recently showed off her singing skills during last week’s live broadcast of the Country Music Awards, for her classroom rendition of Cee Lo’s “F— You.” Of course, given the fact that it’s a hit prime-time series with a predominantly young viewership, “Glee” opted to go with the radio-friendly version, “Forget You.”
But there’s nothing forgettable about Cee Lo Green’s career, all the way up until the surprise success of “F— You.” He’s a Grammy-nominated artist and a founding member of the rap group Goodie Mob, as well as the second half of the duo that is Gnarls Barkley (perhaps you’ll recall a little single from 2006 called “Crazy”?). Cee Lo has written songs for the likes of P. Diddy, Ludacris and Common and even penned (as well as produced) the Pussycat Dolls’ massive hit “Don’t Cha.”
Leave it to the multi-talented star to be able to transform a profanity-laced track (with the f-word right there in the title, no less) into a top 40 hit. The first single off Cee Lo’s upcoming solo album The Lady Killer was released in the U.S. on August, 19, 2010, but was initially created during a recording session in a Los Angeles studio. The track was a collaborative effort with Bruno Mars and Phil Lawrence, among others. Cee Lo has said in interviews that while the song is mostly fictitious (he claims there was no particular woman in mind), it is somewhat based in reality.
The song really made its impact on YouTube. A no-frills video featuring only the tune’s lyrics was released first (fans could now easily sing along with the catchy chorus, “I see you drivin’ ’round town with the girl I love/ And I’m like, f— you/ I guess the change in my pocket wasn’t enough/ I’m like, ’F— you!’/ And f— her, too’ “) and, to date, has had more than 7 million views.
An official video followed soon after, which proved to be just as inspired and tongue-in-cheek as the song itself. A lovelorn youngster lip-synch’s Cee Lo ’s decidedly non-kid-friendly words while pining after the girl that’s traded him in for a new model (“I guess he’s an Xbox/ And I’m more Atari”). Even 50 Cent opted to get in on the fun, releasing his own remix of the song.
When the song hit a fever pitch, radio stations across the country picked it up, but rather than bleep out “f—,” most went with the alternate version of the track, “Forget You.” While Cee Lo prefers the original version, he understands the need for a more radio-friendly take on the track. The artist told Entertainment Weekly, “[It’s] not as effective. But it’s politically correct.”
In addition to becoming an instant fan favorite, the tune was equally appreciated by critics. Billboard called the unconventional mix of doo-wop, hip-hop and pop “too irresistible to be denied,” while the UK’s Guardian dubbed it “one of this year’s most uplifting releases, with a chorus that makes you want to punch the air and imprecate cheerfully at total strangers.”
The 36-year-old has since performed the song on shows like “Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Colbert Report” (in which he strategically replaced the “f— you” lyric with “Fox News”).
What did Cee Lo think of Mrs. Chris Martin’s take on his song for “Glee”? Cee Lo told MTV News that while he hadn’t yet seen the “Glee” performance, he was “flattered” that the show wanted to use the song and found it “too awesome” that it was going to be sung by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow.