Day One hundred and twenty: "Trash Day" from Poodle Hat
Music doesn’t get much better than Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”, and that includes all of Beethoven’s symphonies, which individually, and collectively, pale in comparison to Nelly’s booty-shaking tribute to nakedness. “Hot in Herre” is one of those irresistible anthems that wow the first time around and somehow never wear out their welcome, no matter how often you hear them. It may not be high art but it’s pop art at its finest.
To this day, if someone says, “It’s hot”, “It’s hot in here” or “It’s getting hot in here” I have to physically fight the urge to answer with an enthusiastic shout of “So take off all your clothes!” To be honest, dear reader, I’m seldom successful in my efforts not to constantly reference Nelly’s sadistically catchy smash.
Like Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” or Demi Lovato’s “Sorry (Not Sorry)”, “Hot in Herre” is nothing short of a perfect pop song. I would not hesitate to put the song on a list of my top fifty Hip Hop songs of all time, a zeitgeist-capturing collaboration between Nelly and ubiquitous super-producers The Neptunes, who gave the song a sound and vibe as sleazy and carnal as Nelly’s lyrics and the flirtatious interplay between the rapper and back-up singer Dani Stevenson.
For his parody, Al took a song that was dirty in the sense of very explicitly being about sex and nakedness and made it dirty in the most literal way imaginable, so that it’s about the kind of mess that would require the full resources of the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up.
In “Trash Day”, Al slips inside the undoubtedly foul-smelling skin of a disgusting slob whose unwillingness to take out the trash has caused a rift in his relationship with his significant other. As with “Hot in Herre”, a lot of the fun here comes from the battle of the sexes interplay between male and female voices. But where the vibe in Nelly’s original is one of playful attraction, “Trash Day” substitutes comic revulsion. Instead of sounding intrigued and turned on, the female back-up singer here sounds physically repulsed when she pleads with our Pigpen-like anti-hero, “Hey you, disgusting slob, you better take the trash out!”
In “Hot in Herre”, Nelly teases his over-heated, over-dressed object of desire, “I gotta a friend with a pole in the basement” and when she responds with a mildly indignant, “What?” he responds half-jokingly, “I’m just kidding like Jason, Unless you gon' do it.” In Al’s incongruously clean-yet-dirty version, that sordid offer is changed to, “Some Lysol, some Comet, I got a mop and it's got your name on it.”
This gets just as negative a response as Nelly’s offer, so Al too quickly demurs, “I'm just kiddin', doggone it. Unless you gonna do it!”
In the place of the original’s lascivious grunts of sensual pleasure, “Trash Day” substitutes very Mad Magazine cries of “Ech! Ech!” and in place of Nelly’s half-sung, half-rapped litany of come-ons, Al offers such surprisingly sophisticated rhymes as “generatin’/biodegratin’” and “violatin’/resusciatiatin’” Or rather those would be surprisingly sophisticated rhymes for a song about an unholy mess from anyone other than Al, who has a proven track record or writing about silly or dumb things in a bracingly smart fashion. For Al, lyrics like, “Look at all this garbage I keep generatin’/I sit around all day and watch it biodegradin’/Bet there's a hundred health codes that I'm violatin’/Even my dog passed out and needed resuscitatin’” are pretty much par for the course, wonderfully enough.
“Trash Day” isn’t as perfect as its inspiration. How could it be? But it’s nearly as irresistible. The subject matter may literally be hot garbage but it’s another triumph of craftsmanship from an artist who can transform seemingly anything into comic gold.
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