Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer
Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer
Cee Lo's life-affirming hit 'Forget You' has become a candidate for the song of the year for several reasons. As well as offering one of the most jubilant vocal performances in recent memory and a welcome nod to the glory days of Motown, the expletive-laden original version of the track fundamentally changed what it meant to have a hit single when it was released online.
Receiving minimal airplay, the song notched up more than 17 million hits on YouTube, becoming both a viral sensation and the unofficial soundtrack to the summer before a single copy had even been sold.
But with such a huge track preceding the third solo record from Green (best known for lending his super-charged vocals to Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob), there was always a danger the rest of the album would seem rather mild in comparison.
Although 'Forget You' remains The Lady Killer's finest moment, the record certainly isn't short on tunes. It acts like a kind of potted history of R&B and this is never more evident than on 'Bright Lights Bigger City' - a track that sounds like Usher singing over the bassline from Billy Jean and the string arrangement from the Bond theme, 'You Only Live Twice' (previously lifted by Robbie Williams on Millennium).
With a raft of producing talent - including Salaam Remi, Jack Splash, Fraser T Smith and the brilliantly named Smeezingtons - Green makes every style he attempts utterly his own. But while The Lady Killer is undoubtedly the artist's classiest-sounding record, it's possibly the least imaginative.
The oddball brilliance that shone through Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy', for example - a song about mental illness, rather than mere infatuation - seems to be pared-down here. But then, that's not such a surprise - the singer has claimed he intends The Lady Killer to be the album that finally earns him the super-stardom he truly deserves. While Green may not be modest, he could well be correct.
Perhaps the record's greatest statement of intent is 'Satisfied', a tune so colourful and catchy it's somehow difficult to believe it hasn't been written before. It sees Green showing off his entire vocal range, at times sounding like Prince at his most accessible over a flurry of horns and a luscious string arrangement.
Towards the record's end, 'It's OK' and 'Old Fashioned' maintain the retro vibe of 'Forget You', the latter featuring a vintage piano riff and coming across like a loving tribute to Al Green (no relation).
If The Lady Killer is the sound of an artist relinquishing his underdog status and embracing the mainstream, discussions about "selling out" should never be tolerated again. But despite being an album of upbeat major-key numbers, Green still finds time to explore his darker side. On Bodies - a song about finding a murdered woman in his bed - Cee Lo suggests the album's title might have some basis in truth. The saying "all killer, no filler" has never been more appropriate.
Published: November 9, 2010 04:00 AM