When older artists resort to incorporating F-bombs into their song titles or lyrics to try to appear more hip, it usually comes across trendy and trite, with a major fail looming as the outcome.
That may or may not also be the fate for Mariah Carey’s new buzz single, which dropped last Thursday (Sept. 13), called “GTFO.” An accompanying video featuring the 1990s chanteuse in various poses that suggest anything other than what the title is demanding was released the next day (she looks damn good in the video though!).
Anyone who uses social media or is otherwise familiar with 21st-century initialisms knows what “GTFO” stands for, so there’s no need for this blog to spell it out. However, it is interesting to examine the “Hero” singer’s latest attempt at 2010s relevancy, and even more fun to decide where her “GTFO” ranks among all the songs with that title – and surprisingly there are many.
But first, it’s worth reviewing where Mariah came from to get to 2018.
Throughout her twenties and into her early 30s, Mariah Carey ruled the charts with No. 1 hit after No. 1 hit – acquiring 15 of them over a 10-year span between 1990 and 2000. After a brief downturn, she rebounded in 2005 – at age 35 – with one of her biggest hits ever (“We Belong Together”), which became her sixteenth No. 1 smash. She followed that with two more for a total of 18 – with the last one (“Touch My Body”) happening ten years ago.
Those 18 Number One hits place her second only to the Beatles for the most No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The only active artist that is even close is Rihanna with 14.
But it’s the Rihanna demographic that Carey is likely targeting with “GTFO,” when she coos “I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re lucky I ain’t kick your ass out last weekend,” or in the chorus where she repeats “How ‘bout you get the fuck out? How ‘bout you take your things and be on your merry way” over a contrastive understated track produced by Paul Jefferies (aka Nineteen85), who is best known for his work with Drake.
Those heated lyrics are a far cry from “when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong. And you’ll finally see the truth…that a hero lies in you” from 1984’s “Hero.” I guess it’s safe to say that Mariah has lived a whole ‘nother lifetime of trials and tribulations since that innocent 24-year-old No. 1 hit.
Marketed as the buzz single off of Carey’s upcoming 15th album, Carey said in a press release, “I wanted to give my fans and everyone a first listen that wasn’t so serious. I’ve had so much fun making this album, and I wanted the first moment to reflect that spirit.”
Consider it mission accomplished if fun was the goal. The song is certainly tongue-in-cheek and it’s definitely created a bit of a buzz (this blog included). At the very least, it’s caused many to speculate as to whom the song’s fiery lyrics might be about.
As of this morning, the four-day-old video had 2.5 million views on Vevo/YouTube and the song registered 1.8 million streams on Spotify.
Those numbers will be enough to give the song a modest début on next week’s Hot 100 chart. And I guess it’s not so much of a lyrical stretch when you consider that 48-year-old singers are no less prone to throwing F-grenades than anyone else, even if including such a thing in one’s song lyrics was unheard of when that artist was making his or her best music. Heck, even a former Beatle alludes to it with the thinly disguised “Fuh You,” the lead-off single from 76-year-old Paul McCartney’s new album Egypt Station.
So, if a man whose next milestone birthday is 80 can get a No. 1 album (as Paul just did) with a raunchy single that relies more on shock value than quality to generate buzz, then certainly we should eschew the double standard and give a woman 28 years his junior a pass for doing the same.
Except Mariah’s “GTFO” is not even close to being the best the superstar can do. It’s not even the best song with that title.
As this writer searched “GTFO” on Spotify, I found at least 50 different songs with “GTFO” as their title. I included 21 of them in the below playlist for your listening and judging pleasure.
You can decide for yourself where you think Mariah’s not-so-serious new single ranks among them.
And while you enjoy that, this writer will be longing for the days when the closest any artist would come to “GTFO,” was – to borrow a newer acronym – “GTFOMF,” by way of this 1976 funk classic by the Brothers Johnson.
Submitted with tongue firmly planted in cheek and with much respect to Mimi, whose new album will likely feature much more worthy material than “GTFO” when it’s released this October.