Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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HOT ONE Alert: Gym Class Heroes – “Cupid’s Chokehold”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 12, 2007

Aw yeah

A bit late on this one, I’m aware, but it took me a long time to com to a decision on this one. Really, I’ve known about “Cupid’s Chokehold” for over a year now, since the video started getting played on MTVU last spring. Nothing about it really grabbed me the few times I saw it, though–that is, of course, except for the interpolation of the hook from Supertramp’s unwieldy classic rock staple “Breakfast in America.” A few months later, the song disappeared, and it was replaced in MTVU’s heavy rotation by the singificantly more awful “The Queen and I“.

If anyone ever needed proof of how effective a good video can be in the selling of a good song, the second video for “Cupid’s Chokehold” would be a pretty good Exhibit A. The original video was pretty cute–lead GCHer Travis McCoy gets a doll girlfriend who eventually turns homicidal on him, forcing him to try to get rid of her–but it wasn’t really the right tone for the song. The second video, however, featuring McCoy getting struck by a baby Cupid’s arrow when he meets a new girl at the start of each of the three verses (all of which go sour except the last, when the Cupid is distracted by an arrow he is shot with by a female Cupid), strikes exactly the right chord, one of the sweetest music videos I’ve seen in ages.

And it’s a song that really deserves it. One of the most sincere, touching and direct mainstream love songs of the decade thusfar, it’s no coincidence that the song is starting to peak on the charts just as Valentine’s Day is coming up. “Cupid’s Chokehold” is a fascinating blend of emo and hip-hop, not only in terms of the sound, but in terms of culture and methodology–it has the wit and obviousness of the best hip-hop love songs, with the unguarded feeling and sensitivity of the best emo love songs. Listen to how soft and dreamy McCoy’s voice suddenly gets when the chorus hits–“I mean she even cooks me pancakes / and alka-seltzer when my tummy aches / if that ain’t love, then I don’t know what love is“–he sounds legitimately touched, and the simple details conveyed, if not particularly mindblowing, are real enough to drive it home. There are some clunkers, sure–“If I had to choose between her and the sun / I’d be one nocturnal son of a gun” being perhaps the worst offender–but even those clumsy compliments are heartfelt enough to be entirely forgivable.

And then of course, there’s the Supertramp sample. It doesn’t quite work perfectly–by nature, it’s sort of antithetical to the song’s otherwise gushingly amorous nature (“Not much of a girlfriend / I never seem to get a lot”)–but even still, it gives the song the anchor it needs, isn’t used more than necessary (especially in the remix in the second vid, which drops out the pointless background “girlfriend!” exhortations from the verses). And fuck, it’s a great hook–the most memorable part of the original song, and a ridiuclously off-beat and inspired choice to provide the unforgettable chorus to this soon-to-be classic.

Possibly the best hit love song since “We Belong Together.”

5 Responses to “HOT ONE Alert: Gym Class Heroes – “Cupid’s Chokehold””

  1. David B. said

    Is this a joke post? I’m concerned, because that song is the single most offensively bland, boring-ass, Sublime-meets-G. Love awful tracks I’ve heard in a year or so. I’m all about you dudes repping good singles coming out of typically neglected scenes (i.e. Mall-emo), but this is a terrible single. Just because you want Fall Out Boy to get a modicum of respect (even though the last album blows, and Sugar We’re Going Down being a killer song is the only reason anyone should still care about them) doesn’t mean you need to teabag every band that their gingery porker of a singer touches.

  2. David B. said

    Oh yeah, let me add:

    “I love it when she call me on the cellphone/
    She even got her own ringtone/
    If that ain’t love, then I don’t know what love is.”

    Straightforward…sure. It’s hard to be anything but simple and straightforward when love = ringtones.

    Simplicity should not be cited as a virtue.

  3. Joe said

    This song confuses me to no end. Sure, the verses are funny and genuinely grateful, but why are they followed by such a sarcastic and mysogynistic chorus? Now knowing that it was “sampled” (though I don’t know if I’d call this sampling any more than I’d call what The Offspring did for “Get A Job” sampling — terrible example but that’s the first that comes to mind) makes its motives and meaning even more confusing.

  4. […] I’m a slave to objectivity). With that in mind, and also considering that I’ve already written something about it on IITS (though upon further review, not really one of my finer efforts), I’m going to keep […]

  5. 666 said

    Yeah baby!You can be my girlfriend!!

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