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Best Song of the Millennium, Round 3: I Just Can’t Look, It’s Killing Me

Grantland bracket - Mosaic Rd 4

We can talk about yesterday all day, but I prefer to live today, and today is the day that you have to decide whether you like “Ignition” or “Hey Ya!” better. I don’t really know if you’re ready for this. I don’t know if I’m ready for this. Get properly caffeinated, grab a healthy breakfast, find some affirmations that get you in the right state of mind, then come back here and let’s talk about this voting situation.

[SORRY, VOTING HAS CLOSED.]

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Songs Bracket - Round 4

[1] “Ignition,” R. Kelly (WINNER: 20,432)
[5] “99 Problems,” Jay Z (18,908)

I feel like the people who thought “99 Problems” had what it took to beat Kells, much less win this whole thing might just be fundamentally underinformed about the power of “Ignition.” And that’s not their fault. The (very, very deep) recurring theme of this recap is how our walks of life all inform our votes, and some people just haven’t had the life experience to keep them from wondering when the “Ignition” backlash is going to start, because they don’t know that “Ignition” is impervious to cultural waves like “backlashes” and “comebacks” and “overseeding.” I will not say whether I think it is impervious to “Hey Ya!,” however. Because after the last couple of days, I honestly don’t know.

[2] “Hot in Herre,” Nelly (8,381)
[3] “Hey Ya!,” OutKast (WINNER: 31,170)

It’s been fun watching the last couple of songs that have gone up against “Hey Ya!” duke it out among their peers for arguably justified wins, only to get shaken off like so many discontinued Polaroid pictures once they come up against Andre’s formidable yowl. I don’t feel like the landslides against “Crazy in Love” and now “Hot in Herre” were caused by anything less than total adoration of and respect for the losing songs, and the accepted truth that “Hey Ya!” is on another planet with different laws of physics — better laws of physics. Part of me wonders if unfortunate bracket casualty “B.O.B.” would have cleaned up in the same manner — it never really blew up in the same way that “Hey Ya!” did, and we never had a chance to get sick of it. But something tells me that timelessness is a double-edged sword in this game; as the tournament goes on it seems we’re more likely to reward songs that indisputably peaked at a certain time, and that serve as culture-wide sonic madeleines. “B.O.B.,” bless it, reminds me of the entire decade; “Hey Ya!” is unmistakably 2003.

[3] “Yeah!,” Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris (WINNER: 20,417)
[7] “Feel Good Inc.,” Gorillaz (18,665)

Speaking of sonic madeleines, one of these songs reminds me of a summer I spent working at a country club and busing half-empty glasses of White Zin while dental students did the cabbage patch with their parents and my tyrranical Swiss boss watched grimly from the corner while going from table to table and smoothing out the wrinkles on the tablecloths. The other reminds me of the summer after that when I failed to get a job, allowing me to wander around every night with my friends into random house parties; for some reason it had become cool to dance again, just in time for that first LCD Soundsystem album and that first M.I.A. album and the impossible-to-sit-still-for dork-funk of “Feel Good Inc.” It looks like you guys weren’t there; that’s too bad, I’m sure you had just as much fun at Kaylee and Scott’s reception. I’ll never not think of pit stains on rented tuxes when I hear “Yeah!,” but if this is how we get Ludacris into the Elite Eight, I can’t complain.

[9] “Mr. Brightside,” The Killers (WINNER: 20,296)
[13] “Paper Planes,” M.I.A. (19,026)

It’s not funny anymore. You know we added a Killers song to this list out of charity, right? We felt bad because there weren’t enough “rock songs” in the bracket and so I turned to Mark Lisanti and was like “Uh, the Killers? Did people like the Killers? Sure, throw the emo kids a bone, it’ll shut em up before Kelly Clarkson massacres the lower left corner of the bracket.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself.

[1] “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele (WINNER: 26,287)
[12] “Use Somebody,” Kings of Leon (12,589)

Yeah, Adele has seriously benefited from the seeding in this tournament, but I worry now that she’s not properly warmed up to face her opponent today. It’s one thing to conquer kings, it’s another thing entirely to defeat an Empire. An evil, wailing, soggy, plodding Empire. Sorry, I’m getting off-topic. I’m just going to go back and read Alex’s Keys-icide from yesterday and cackle to myself again.

[3] “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” Beyoncé (16,347)
[7] “Empire State of Mind,” Jay Z (WINNER: 22,442)

[1] “N—-s in Paris,” Jay Z and Kanye West (WINNER: 27,612)
[4] “Mercy,” Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz (7,789)

I would just like to point out that Shawn Carter is responsible for a full quarter of the Elite Eight songs, and yet we somehow think we are living in a democracy.

[2] “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen (WINNER: 21,132)
[6] “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell (17,265)

If I was gunning hard for “Blurred Lines” I’d call foul with the unforeseeable, definitely negative (WHY THO) impact that the Miley Cyrus (and Robin Thicke, but who cares, right?) VMA performance had on this vote. Is there a sports analogy for a game getting thrown by an act of god and/or roving, insatiable tongue? Probably. But “Blurred Lines” was probably doomed even before the foam finger nudged it from “Hey ha-ha they sure do play this song everywhere! I’m so sick of it but it’s the song of the summer y’all woooo SONG OF THE SUMMER” territory to “We are all fully domesticated animals now. Line us up for the slaughter.” Between this and the unexpected demise of “Get Lucky,” there’s either an inverse recency bias going on, or the chill vibes of Summer 2K13 just can’t stand up to synth strings and ripped jeans.