Why Everybody Should Love CeeLo Green
"Crazy" plays the seemingly impossible trick of making you forget Willie Nelson once wrote Patsy Cline another nearly perfect song by the same name. From the opening five beats preceding CeeLo's wail of "I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind," the song has its hooks in you and never lets go.
Taking samples from the score of a 1968 Italian Western Viva! Django, CeeLo provided a Motown voice for the parents while Danger Mouse gave the song crisp beats the kids could dance to. The casual listener could pick out a couple of words from it and figure it's a happy love song, while the obsessive could pore over the words and appreciate that it's about mental illness and hope that there was someone else out there "crazy just like me."
The popularity of that song was so overwhelming that when CeeLo eventually passes away, it guarantees his obituary lands a prominent spot on any website, even if the rest of his career consists of middling work. With the next Gnarls Barkley album, 2008's The Odd Couple, it seemed CeeLo might be on a forgettable path. It's a pleasant-enough album; if it came on, you wouldn't turn it off, but nothing stood out like "Crazy." Of course, that's a high standard to live up to -- a once-a-decade standard, according to Rolling Stone, which named it best song of the first decade of the 2000s.
But then, 2010 was the start of a new decade, and who knew what'd come next? That's when CeeLo Green released "Fuck You!" or in polite company, "Forget You!"
Whereas "Crazy" could be considered a love song, "Fuck You" expressed that other shared extreme human emotion: hatred. Tapping into a good-time oldies jingle, "Fuck You" isn't the perfectly crafted pop confection of "Crazy," but it comes pretty damned close and was nearly as ubiquitous. Gwyneth Paltrow sang it in an episode of Glee, and Gonzo's chickens did a version in the 2011 movie The Muppets. Time magazine even named it the top song of 2010. It's the rarest of things, a fun number that the whole family can curse along to.
Over the past few years, CeeLo did a couple of celebrity victory laps. He has been a coach on the popular NBC show The Voice, and he reunited with Goodie Mob for a so-so album, Age Against the Machine. He also helmed a terrible reality show, CeeLo Green's The Good Life, which not only steals the premise from the show Entourage (where a celebrity is surrounded by his wacky, less-famous childhood buddies) but also plagiarizes actual plot points like starting a driving company with hot chicks as chauffeurs.
But fame is usually fleeting, so CeeLo might as well enjoy it to the max. The TV shows will disappear, but it's CeeLo's music that will play at every future wedding, forever. You can catch him live as he tours this summer with Lionel Richie. It'll be worth a trip to Cruzan Amphitheatre, because guaranteed, CeeLo's versions of "Crazy" and "Fuck You!" will be far superior to any wedding band's finest rendition.
CeeLo Green: With Lionel Richie on the All the Hits All Night Long Tour. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $21 to $131 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit livenation.com.