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.