10. Brush your Shoulders Off (Jay Z) — Time passes, seasons change, the Electric Slide gives way to the Cha Cha Slide at weddings, but one thing remains: DJs and emcees always want you to do something. While some music may ask more of us than dance music does, no other sort has the gall to up and demand it in the lyrics.
At least Jay Z here had the courtesy to demand something simple and easy to do that doesn’t require you to move your feet or get your heart rate up above 60 beats per minute or so. You can even do it while you’re holding your drink! Now I understand why the man is so successful — he doesn’t waste energy. (And because Universal has embedding on lockdown, here’s the DJ Danger Mouse remix. It’s probably for the best)
There’s also the sense that Jay Z wants you to do it for your own good, which is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it’s courteous and encouraging. On the other, “Who do you think you are telling me what to do, Jay Z! Geez!”
9. Lean Back (Fat Joe feat. Terror Squad) — Never one to be out-lazied, Fat Joe does Jay Z one better, since you’d probably have to tilt your upper body a little bit one way or another to get the shoulder brush right anyway. “Lean back” sets down the bare minimum effort for conventionally bossy dance songs, but is more demanding than it sounds: it includes an implicit condemnation against other dances. Plus, it tells you to pull up your pants, which is the sort of thing I expect from my mom, not the world’s most aloof MC. NEXT!
8. Nod Your Head — Most sequels raise the stakes. The first Leprechaun was set in neither space nor the ‘hood. The first Muppet Movie contained nary a caper, nor the Taking of Manhattan, nor a Christmas Carol. Raising stakes is what the future is for. That an flying cars.
Will Smith’s “The Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” is the most dramatic lowering of the stakes in a sequel that I have ever seen (or, um, heard). “Here Come The Men in Black” had you bouncing, sliding, walking, making your neck working, freezing, all of it. The sequel has inexplicably inferior faith in its audience’s mobility.
Of course, if, like most men, you’re trying your best to stand off the side and look cool without moving too much, this song is pretty much the maximum you’re going to do, and even then you’re only going to do it with like 10% enthusiasm.
“Nod Ya Head,” is, well, what it sounds like. Simple and basic. Doesn’t require a lot of effort. Kind of unimpressive. Leaves you thinking it should be part of something bigger and better instead of standing alone. Just like a Men In Black movie.
The funniest part of the song is how worked up Will Smith gets about it, trying to compensate for the fact that he doesn’t have as much jiggy stuff for you to do by telling you to do it really loudly.