Introducing: Goth & B
The first great single of 2005 comes from a former make-up artist who sang backup on OutKast's Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Tori Alamaze's "Don' Cha," produced by Cee-Lo, is a weird, mournful amalgam of R&B and goth-house -- like gospel modulated through Swayzak, or a Kompakt Pop record reconfigured for an Atlanta strip club.
It really is a strip club kinda song: it swivels and grinds at a pace seemingly much slower than its actual 120 BPM, building up button-popping suspense with every glacial side-to-side. And speaking of glaciers, the mid-range organs -- has Cee-Lo been listening to Ada or something? -- flare up like sun flashing off a blinding ice shelf; the only signs of a thaw are in the detuned ride cymbals, which soften and drip with every bar. (While we're pointing out techno analogues, they sound uncannily like the sour rides in Richie Hawtin and Steve Bug's "Low Blow".)
The track's secret crux is in the disconnect between the lyrics and the tune: the chorus goes, "Don' cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me/ Don' cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me," but for all her sass, Alamaze sounds mostly sad, and the instrumental behind her is utterly downcast. What might have been just another pole dancer's "crunk & B" jam is, instead, something much more complicated: a funeral march for erotic love.