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For the Love of God: How Did No One Beat “I Love College” To the Punch

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 7, 2009

I don’t think I hate “I Love College.” Nah, it’s a little too genial for that. Derivative? Absolutely, even if you spot it the “Impeach the President” drum loop. Obnoxious in its frattiness? Yeah sure, but so were the Beastie Boys in their early days, and who would dare cast aspersions on those guys? (Besides their post-buddhist selves anyways). Besides, that groove is straight up ice, finding the midpoint between Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” John Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change,” and Fatlip’s “What’s Up Fatlip?”–I can’t argue with that geometry. And even the lyrics have their moments–“I wanna go to college for the rest of my life” is  definitely the line to open with, I gotta give him “Time’s not wasted when you’re getting wasted / Woke up this morning and all I could say was…” as a great pre-chorus, and “Pass out at three / Wake up at ten / Get something ot eat / Then do it again” is every bit as anthemic as it should be. All told, the song breaks even, at the very least.

But man, am I disappointed that “I Love College” isn’t just a little bit better. A lot of people think it should be a whole lot better, apparently, as Mr. Roth, is already appearing on the receiving end of dis tracks, but I don’t begrudge the man his unapologetic honkiness–hey, Crash was one of the first albums that I owned too. I just wished he tried a little harder here. I guess it’s appropriate for a song about college and all, paean to self-indulgence that those four years are in a young man’s life, but the song feels distinctly lazy to me. “I am champi-on / At beer pong / Allen Iver-son / Hakeem Olaju-won.” “I can’t tell you what I learned from school, but / I can tell you a story or two, um / Yeah of course I learned some rules, like / Don’t pass out with your shoes on.” And of course, “I love college / I love drinking / I love women / Man, I love college.” I mean, really? Not exactly bringing your a-game here, Ash.

The thing that really gets me is that this might’ve been pop music’s one shot at The Great College Anthem, and now we might be stuck with it forever. Think about it–what other hit songs have there been on the subject? There are plenty of songs about being young, growing up, going to high school, whatever, but after that pop seems to jump straight into adulthood, leaving out that creamy middle of college life–which, as proven here, has an absolute ton to lend itself to both rock and hip-hop mythology. Frankly, it’s fucking incredible me to that this song has never been written before–or if it has, that no one seemed to much notice. Sex, drugs, beer, lethargy? What more do you want? Yet somehow, it’s remained unmined territory. Anyone who thought to jump on this train while it was still in the station could’ve ended up with a song guaranteed to resonate with inebriated idiots from UCLA all the way to Penn State.

And it kills me, because college really deserves a rallying cry. I wasn’t the hugest fan of my time there–which, naturally, bore markedly little resemblence to Asher Roth’s utopia–but even for me, at its best moments, college certainly packed highs as ridiculous as the ones portrayed here. Film has given the phase of life its share of heady tributes–Animal House, PCU, Back to School, uh, College–it was about time for pop music to give it a try as well. If this had just been done by someone a little more creative, a little more talented, it could’ve absolutely been a stone(d) classic. As it is, it’s just a frustrating glimpse into what could and should have been, and a guarantee that, once the song hits #1 and stays there until summer break. no other song will be able to broach the subject for the next three or four decades. Looks like I might’ve graduated just in time after all.

8 Responses to “For the Love of God: How Did No One Beat “I Love College” To the Punch”

  1. fredMS said

    well the reason there hasn’t been college anthems is cuz most artists didnt go to college. u dont need a degree to be a singer or whatever. your statement reeks of white privilege, assuming most people go to college.

  2. Anton said

    I’m not sure where in the article there is an assumption that everyone goes to college. Are all songs written exclusively about things everyone knows about? Certainly there have been popular anthems about things most people know nothing about, from heroin addiction to prison life.

    Or maybe most people do know about them, and that’s just my reeking white privelage coming out.

  3. Jordan said

    “There are plenty of songs about being young, growing up, going to high school, whatever, but after that pop seems to jump straight into adulthood, leaving out that creamy middle of college life”

    That’s not quite assuming that everyone goes to college, but assumes that it’s a phase that you have in life, when it isn’t for many people, which is a view that reflects a privileged background. (Which is ok, the white privilege police won’t arrest you, but just recognize it.)

    But yeah, Fred’s right that’s probably the main cause, there have been tons of movies about college because nearly every mainstream director or screenwriter goes to college, while most musicians don’t go to college, or if they do, often drop out. Also, shit just comes out obnoxious in ways songs about drugs or prison don’t.

  4. Jack said

    First: Are we sure this isn’t a parody (though I doubt it?)

    Second: How about “Campus” by Vampire Weekend on the other end of the spectrum as a college anthem? As in, the anthem for nerdy kids who went to a liberal-arts school and partied and had sex a lot but conversed about James Joyce and African politics at said parties (guilty!).

  5. Jonathan said

    Unterberger — check out Brad Paisley and Pat Green’s “College.” It’s basically this song but a million times better. I know you’re not much of a country guy, but a good country college anthem is far better than a, at best, half-assed rap song.

    Also, the Federation’s “College Girl” is sort of a college anthem. It’s not clear, however, whether the Federation is attending college, or just sleeping with an inordinate number of women who do. (OK, it’s almost certainly the latter.)

  6. Jizzy Boy said

    Ok he stole this beat from some one when the song opens but its killing me cause i cant remember what song it is. Can someone help me out please?

  7. DMH said

    Well, there is an entire sub-genre of music generally referred to as “college rock,” which typically fills up campus radio stations, most of it indie or alternative. Another poster on here mentioned “Campus” by Vampire Weekend, a much better, more literate, intelligent and musically entertaining song than this trite garbage. As for whether most musicians go to college, there are a lot of those above mentioned “college radio” artists who fill their songs with the typical issues facing the average college student. This song is kind of scary to be a top pop hit on the radio with its raves of binge drinking, puking, not learning anything at all for paying that tuition and a video set in a frat house intoning others to “put 2 on” for protection.

  8. Dan Weiss said

    I doubt this was pop’s “one great shot” for a college anthem. But I agree about everything else.

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