Archive for Thursday, February 2, 2006

Opinion: Mix-tape breakdown

February 2, 2006

"Yo Vanilla, let's kick it one time, boyeeeeeee."

Those words from Vanilla Ice's immortal 1990 song "Ice, Ice Baby" rang out several times during the Bobcat Invitational basketball tournament.

The song, which is part of the warm-up music for the Basehor-Linwood girls team, provoked nostalgic smiles from many of the younger people in the gym, while causing most of the older folks to just look puzzled.

The warm-up music for high school squads provides a great opportunity to observe the generation gap at work. It's one of those rare occasions where parents are forced to listen to their kids' music. Consider it a bit of payback for all of those long road trips when the radio dial is permanently fixed on oldies stations.

But, unlike what you hear at most high schools, most of the BLHS warm-up tunes make a lot of sense. There's the song "Basketball," by Lil' Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri, which is tailor-made for the gym. Then there's Tag Team's song, "Whoomp there it is," which appears on a number of Jock Jams crowd-rouser CDs.

On the surface Nelly's song, "Grillz" seems like an odd choice. The tune, which is an ode to expensive dental work (seriously), has no discernible connection to sports (except maybe hockey), but it's tearing up the dance clubs and top-40 music charts right now, so it's little wonder it gets the BLHS players pumped.

The one head-scratcher, though, is "Ice, Ice Baby." It's not about sports, it's not real fast-paced, and most of all, it's old. It's more Generation X than modern hip-hop, with a beat that's sampled almost note-for-note from the Queen song, "Under Pressure."

It's hard to say why Vanilla Ice has stood the test of time, yet he keeps popping up, even 15 years later. The music video channel VH1 recently named "Ice, Ice Baby" number five on its list of the 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs ever.

I guess that's how some songs become endless classics, they're just so bad they're good, like "Muskrat Love" or "Incense and Peppermints." Twenty years from now we'll probably still be able to turn on the radio and hear "Ice, Ice Baby." Who would've thought that a song that ends with, "Word to your mother," would have such staying power?

Although the appeal of Vanilla Ice and Nelly might be a mystery to the older generations, at least most people can agree that it's pretty innocent stuff.

Some of the songs you hear at other high schools make you want to yell "earmuffs!" at the nearest little kid.

I was nine years old when "Ice, Ice Baby" came out and my parents thought some of the lines were a bit suggestive for radio play ("Girls looking hot wearing less than bikinis").

But, for better or worse, times have obviously changed.

It's quite tame compared to recent radio hits like "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent and "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. Parents, if you want to know what these songs are about you can read the words at www.lyrics.com (but make sure you're sitting down).

If I ever have kids, I hope scientists will develop some kind of V-chip for the radio. Until they do, I'll be making sure the car is always tuned to an oldies station, and my kids will be saying, "Geez, not Vanilla Ice again."

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