First of all, let’s get the title out of the way. The song that comes in at #5 on MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 list is called “F— You” (and though we can’t type it out, you know what we’re talking about). It isn’t “Forget You” (which is what “Good Morning America” viewers and radio listeners hear) or “FU” or even “Fox News” (which was the lyric change [artist id="1163841"]Cee Lo Green[/artist] made when he performed the song on “The Colbert Report”), and that’s an important distinction.
The first single from Green’s new album The Lady Killer is a phenomenal marriage of rage, angst and giddiness that cannot properly be expressed with the word “forget.” It’s too angry, too thrilling and too singular for a radio edit, which is why it landed so high on this list.
Of all the songs that appear on the upper echelon of this list, “F— You” might have had the strangest road to the top. There was very little excitement surrounding the release of Green’s new album (his third solo joint and his first since scoring huge crossover success with Gnarls Barkley, his collaboration with DJ Danger Mouse) when “F— You” became an instantaneous viral hit back in August. Thanks to a YouTube clip that did little more than lay out the lyrics to the potty-mouthed revenge tune, the song got passed around at the speed of the Internet, racking up millions of views before it was even available on iTunes. Sensing that he had a hit on his hands, Green quickly cut a new, official video for the song (a brightly colored time-traveling tour through various episodes of traumatic female rejection) and pushed up the release date of the album.
But while it seems like “F— You” should be a novelty song, it managed to transcend fleeting popularity, and that’s because of the song’s absolutely impeccable production. Co-written and produced by the Smeezingtons (the song-doctor collective that features breakout star Bruno Mars), “F— You” uses a funky Motown groove and bright-as-sunshine horns to build a spectacularly catchy groove over which Cee Lo can let his voice (which is all helium and rubber bands) dance all over it like an extra-angry Al Green.
The language should have sunk “F— You” (in addition to the chorus, there are a handful of S-bombs and mentions of the N-word, hardly the things you can say in a crossover pop hit), but the jubilation with which Cee Lo delivered his vindictive lyric sheet wrapped everybody up, turning Cee Lo into a morning-show-friendly pop star (again) and spinning “F— You” into an unusual hit. The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and pushed The Lady Killer to the top 10 on the album chart as well. Cee Lo’s greatest “F— You”-related trick may be yet to come, as the song was just nominated for Grammys (Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Urban Alternative Performance and Best Short Form Music Video). And in perhaps the greatest testament of a song’s greatness in 2010, “F— You” got covered on an episode of the hit TV show “Glee” (by guest star Gwyneth Paltrow, no less).
While there was no shortage of blunt honesty on the radio in 2010 (Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” certainly put the cards on the table), Cee Lo Green’s “F— You” was a special kind of honesty, as it dressed it up in a jaw-droppingly fun package. Green had plenty of poison to share, but he did it with a smile — and that’s what made “F— You” so special. (And yeah, the cursing helped too.)
How does Cee Lo Green’s “F— You” rank among the year’s best songs? Let us know in the comments!
MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown continues. Make sure to keep checking back to see what song we’ve named #1, and don’t forget to share your picks with us in the comments below!