Overplayed Song of the Week: Calvin Harris Featuring Ne-Yo, ‘Let’s Go’

Welcome to the Overplayed Song of the Week. Every week, Hollywood Prospectus editor and masochistically devoted mainstream radio listener Emily Yoshida will pick an aging Top 40 hit that she has heard enough times to render the song meaningless, and thus likely to inspire otherwise inaccessible epiphanies.

Weeks on Chart: 18
Peak: No. 5 on Billboard’s Pop Chart, September 1, 2012
Current Radio Play Frequency No. 6 on KIIS FM’s Playlist

[Lyrics]

There are vague pop songs, and then there’s “Let’s Go.” Here’s what I gather from this song, lyrically:

  • There is a thing that should be done.
  • Procrastination is not a favorable plan of action when it comes to said thing.
  • There are no outside factors upon which the doing of said thing is contingent (i.e. where you’ve been, what you’ve done).
  • The thing really ought to be done, preferably in an expedient manner.

Hey, I can get onboard with that message. This song is made for two things: running on a treadmill, and flailing around at a club or house party once everyone quits pretending and trades out Grimes for Britney and Ne-Yo. Its flimsiness becomes apparent in any situation when you can’t distract yourself with physical movement. If I’m being cynical, I’d say this song was also made for a third thing: Ad licensing. There are no swears. It could be about virtually anything, like drinking Pepsi or playing World of Warcraft. Unlike that other inescapable club jam featuring Ne-Yo, Pitbull’s “Tonight,” there’s no exhortation to let someone take advantage of you, though if you wanted to make it about that, you certainly could.

Besides the aforementioned Pepsi spot, it was also in regular rotation during NBC’s Olympics coverage. You know you’ve made a four-quadrant song when it can inspire both record-breaking relay times and ecstasy-fueled Vegas club nights.

Production highlight: Most of the big radio hits Scottish D.J. Calvin Harris has produced (and their music videos) have shared a pan-global, “Go Humans!” feel, frequently employing the kind of minor-key happy that makes really good radio bangers feel not only fun but somehow important. “Let’s Go” is no different, with a salsa-tinged crescendo of a hook that eschews an actual melody for a mere four escalating chords. Half of me wishes there were something meatier there after all that buildup (like the sticky little synth line at the center of “Bounce“), but it’s pretty loud, and sounds like it should be exciting.

Production lowlight: (But again, not if you’re sitting in a car or at a desk.) The whole thing is pretty one-note, and you clearly have to be kicking a fútbol around Rio, riding a motorcycle through Tokyo or on some seriously haute couture drugs to fully appreciate it.

Lyrical highlight: I dunno, I guess I’m down with the 19th “Let’s go”?

Lyrical lowlight: I love Ne-Yo, which is why I was disappointed to learn that he was at least partially responsible for penning the words he utters in “Let’s Go.” I am neither pro or anti the whole EDM takeover of mainstream pop; I think it’s produced a lot of exciting, forward-looking music, but definitely at the expense of lyrical depth. I’m just saying, this song was written by the same person who wrote “Miss Independent,” one of the most intelligent, sweet, and catchy pop songs of 2008. Sure, they’re both fun, but I doubt I’m going to remember or care about “Let’s Go” in four years. Even just as an inspirational anthem, “Let’s Go” comes up short, whereas “Miss Independent” actually offers concrete goals and aspirations; “And her bills are paid on tiiiime!” makes me want to schedule my student loan payments and make a dentist appointment, whereas “Let’s make it happen, oh, let’s make it happen tonight,” makes me want to, I dunno, knit a fascinator for my cat? Watch the second half of Empire Records on TV?

Filed Under: Ne-Yo, On Repeat

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Emily Yoshida is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ emilyyoshida