Fill up my cup. Mazel Tov.

It has come to my attention that there are those who will deny the unstoppable pop genius that is the Black Eyed Peas’ international megahit “I Gotta Feeling.”

I want to speak only about the line “Fill up my cup — mazel tov!”  Amazing.  Amazing! You start with “fill up my cup” — which at this moment in the song reads as a cup of beer at a party or maybe even a cup (glass?) of champagne at a sophisticated nightclub.  And then with just two words the song pulls aside the curtain and says — you are at a bar mitzvah. Look to your left — the man dancing there is 75.  Look to your right — the girl dancing there is 12.  Look down at the cup — it’s a kiddush cup.

It’s a moment of incredible self-knowledge and assurance:  the band saying:  We’re here for one reason, and that’s to outdo “Celebration,” and write the greatest wedding/barmitzvah song ever made.  If you’re listening to this at a bar mitzvah, this is your song.  And if you actually are listening to this while drinking champagne at a sophisticated nightclub, guess what — you’re dancing to the same song as the septuagenarians in the Marriott Ballroom 3, and you can’t stop yourself.

I know of nothing like it in contemporary pop music.  Like oh my God.

No need to link to this much-heard song, so here’s Spongebob singing it.

I have not even spoken of the poignancy of the closing “Do it again” refrain — partly because I’m not sure it’s actually supposed to be poignant.  It might just be that it reminds me of the Kinks song:


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15 thoughts on “Fill up my cup. Mazel Tov.

  1. ozanam says:

    You’re much too intelligent to respect the mediocrity that is the black eyed peas (and most modern pop for that matter). That song, especially, is an overly-repetitive piece of autotune garbage. People with your intellect should be listening to classical music. I’m sounding so bossy right now, I know.

  2. SHB says:

    This post had me chuckling the entire time. Thanks!

  3. ozanam says:

    Crap, I feel stupid. I just read the post again and realized it was supposed to be satirical and toungue-in-cheek. How do I delete comments ?

  4. Douglas Wolk says:

    I love the Wall Street Journal piece on the BEPs, http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052702303720604575169933636121658.html , in which the chairman of Sony/ATV Publishing says “I’d pay any amount of money for that song”–specifically in response to that line…

  5. jessie says:

    I was just Black Eye Pea-ed at my niece’s wedding. It was, of course, followed by “Celebration,” and was in fact the lead-off song for the dancing portion of the evening. (Although, thankfully, not the first dance for the bride and groom, which was the much more appropriate “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds.) Other notables: Usher’s ubiquitous “Yeah,” the Electric Slide, and “Love Shack.” I think that there are regulations regarding which songs must be played at these events. If there is a steam table buffet, you must play Kool and the Gang!

  6. JSE says:

    I’m not kidding! I like this song!

    Classical music requires a huge amount of preparatory work which I’ve never undertaken. I have highbrow tastes in literature, isn’t that enough for you people?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Re ozanam: You should not beat yourself up — Jordan’s personality (sincere and willing to give the benefit of the doubt) makes him the perfect set-up man for leaving you in two minds as to whether he is intending to be satirical or not; I could imagine Jordan saying almost anything (e.g. “Jersey shore” is the most subversive show on TV since “Curb your Enthisiasm”) and still not being quite sure if he meant it.

    My main experience with the song “Celebration” was a math conference at ANU in 1993. The college next door was hosting some kind of “self-affirmation” workshop that involved this song being played very loudly at 6:30AM every day.

  8. JSE says:

    I haven’t seen “Jersey Shore,” but I will argue for the first season of “Survivor” with a fervor you might find disturbing.

  9. Andy P. says:

    I have a conflicted relationship with the transition from modernity to post-modernity, but I think one of the unambiguously good things about post-modernity is that it gave smart people the license to relax and have fun. Why should we have to be serious all the time?

    Of course, previous generations already knew this. I can’t imagine Shakespeare feeling guilty about writing comedies that weren’t poorly disguised social commentaries, and one can find numerous melodies stolen from popular songs of the day in the music of “high-brow” renaissance composers like Josquin…

  10. Richard Seguin says:

    Why does classical music require a huge amount of preparatory work? Certainly not to appreciate it. If you’re not that familiar with it though, it does take time to sort through the different composers and periods of music and discover what you like. Listening to the Wisconsin Public Radio classical music broadcasts is a good passive way to do that. And then there’s the matter of discovering your favorite performers and finding the best recordings of your favorite pieces. Like most forms of music, there’s stuff I like and stuff I don’t. What I like generally comes from the Baroque and Classical periods. Some Early Music is OK (lutes are wonderful), I generally like nothing past the early 20th Century, and Strauss makes me puke. I’m not a snob. I also have recordings of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Lucinda Williams, BB King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Ferron, etc, etc.

    Classical music (and folk and traditional American music etc.) is done on “acoustic instruments” which generate pleasant and dissonant resonances of remarkable complexity. Pick up a friend’s classical guitar sometime, pluck the strings and feel the vibrations of the strings and the resonance of the wood in your body. You’ll be hooked.

  11. Amie says:

    In defense of Jordan’s crappy lowbrow tastes: here we have the Blackeyed Peas, a truly multiracial group with a bunch of really catchy songs who give a shit and actively campaigned for a presidential candidate in the last election and who embrace wholeheartedly their inner cheesy mazeltov selves. Now, really what’s not to like? (PS I hate Lady Gaga)

  12. But I honestly think that “I Gotta Feeling” is a crappy song even for those who like the Black Eyed Peas (as I sometimes do). As a rousing anthem for…well, anything, it just rings false (or rather, autotuned). I mean, BEP is supposed to be a hip-hop group, and this song is so painfully unhip. Proof: the first time I heard it was as a group song and dance number on American Idol. (No, I don’t know why I was watching that show either. I think I was flipping channels and was caught transfixed in the glare like a nocturnal mammal.)

    If you want a BEP song that actually succeeds as a can’t help but get into it all-purpose dance anthem, you need look no further than “Let’s Get It Started”. This song’s appearance in “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the highlight of the film. Aside from just being fantastically entertaining, it is also a clever and reasonably subtle (two things which I wouldn’t accuse the rest of the movie of being) allusion to the Johnny B. Goode scene in “Back to the Future”.

    I also really like BEP’s 2003 cover “Where is the Love?” apl.de.ap’s rapping in this is great and gives the song an authenticity that is sometimes lost on their more Fergie/will.i.am dominated numbers.

  13. Woett says:

    This comment makes me want to throw up.. Blegh.

  14. [...] I love “I Gotta Feeling.” [...]

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