Cee-Lo Green offers advice to parents regarding his unprintably titled viral hit
I was in New York City last week to interview the formidable Cee-Lo Green about his very active artistic life, and specifically, his great new album, "The Lady Killer," to be released in early November. My Brooklyn pals Josh and Yvonne put me up, and as I departed their brownstone, I asked Josh -- a serious music lover and father of two -- what I should ask the singer-songwriter-multiple-hyphenate.
"Just tell him how tough he's made life for those of us with young kids!" he exclaimed. "We all have that song stuck in our heads, but we can't sing it in front of them."
I'd been wondering about this too. Not only is Cee-Lo's viral anthem "... You" the catchiest song of the year, but he's also gone and made an adorable video that's like a mash-up of "Happy Days" and "The Cosby Show." The song was released to radio as "Forget You." So, when I arrived at this Manhattan hotel suite, I asked the soul man: Would you let your own kids listen to your profane yet gloriously cheery kiss-off?
"I have a 10-year-old," he said. "And I think with the Internet and the entertainment industry being as it is, there is so much more accessible and unauthorized, and unapologetic, that we may as well be as honest with our kids. I wouldn’t necessarily want my children to be naïve about anything.
"I can either teach them how to negate or navigate," he continued. "To get through it, or avoid it completely. That’s all that we can hope for them, to be able to distinguish things."
Besides, Cee-Lo added, "... You" ultimately sends a message of hope and reconciliation. With oneself, at least.
"If you think about it, in literal terms, I saw them driving past, and I’m like, '... you!' " he said, referring to the song's first line, in which our hero spies his beloved and a richer boyfriend in his fancy car. "But I didn’t say it to her; I’m just thinking it out loud. The song is about smiling in the face of adversity, and accepting and moving on. There's definitely a silver lining to it."
You could even call it a moral tale.
"It’s just meant to be funny, really," he concluded. "But there’s so much in music that my kids hear on a daily basis -– I dare somebody to have a problem with this song!"
Look for more from my conversation with the Ladykiller in the weeks to come.
-- Ann Powers