Friday, March 2, 2012

Kanye West (feat. Rihanna) -- "All Of The Lights" (2011)

I slapped my girl, 
She called the feds 
I did that time 
And spent that bread . . .
Restraining order, 
Can't see my daughter 
Her mother, brother, grandmother
Hate me in that order 

Tolstoy's monumental novel, Anna Karenina, begins with these words:  "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

I'm not sure Tolstoy was right.  It's obvious that the family depicted in Kanye West's "All Of The Lights" is unhappy.  But nothing in the song indicates their unhappiness is particularly unique.  An unfaithful woman, a violent man -- and a child caught in the middle.   Same old, same old.

Kanye West
If the family's situation is nothing special, the song certainly is.  More than one critic has used the word "operatic" to describe "All Of The Lights," and that's as good a word as any.

"All Of The Lights" won "Best Rap Song" and "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" at the recent Grammy Awards.   It was nominated for "Song of the Year," and I would have given it that award as well -- but everyone knew that award had Adele's name written all over it.

Speaking of "collaboration," this song has collaboration in spades.  Kanye enlisted the aid of no fewer than 14 of his favorite vocalists to appear on the song -- not only Rihanna, who is most prominent guest artist on the song, but also Kid Cudi, Fergie, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Drake, and Elton John.  

The reviewer for the New Music Express, Alex Denney, called it the "celeb-studded centerpiece" of West's fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and went on to say that: 

In anyone else’s hands it’d be an A-list circle-jerk of horrid proportions, but through Kanye’s bar-raising vision it becomes a truly wondrous thing. 

"All of the Lights" is a song that only Kanye West could have put together.  He is the reigning genius of hip-hop -- few match him as either a songwriter, performer, or producer, and I don't think anyone else's sum of their parts is greater than Kanye's.

The Hype Williams-directed music video is just as remarkable an accomplishment as the song is.  It begins with a warning that it may trigger epileptic seizures, and you'll see why when you view the video.  

Trust me -- you want to view this video.  If you watch only one video on 2 or 3 lines this year, this is the one to watch.  (Full screen, please.)   

Click here if you'd like to buy "All Of The Lights" from Amazon:

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