The I Am Irrevocably Disturbed For Having Chaperoned A High School Dance Where The DJ Played This Song Award
By Lindsay Zoladz | 17 December 2009
Jeremih :: “Birthday Sex”
(Def Jam; 2009)
I have spent the past three summers working at a camp for high school students. It’s always enlightening to spend some time with people who are not of the opinion that the most famous band in the world is Animal Collective, and these experiences always grant me a brief glimpse into the fickle, evanescent mob mentality that is the musical taste of an average American teenager. (Perhaps my most astonishing finding of 2009 is the fact that kids still think Linkin Park is cool. I know!) The most revelatory moment by far always occurs at the annual last-night-of-camp dance. It’s always eye-opening to hear all the songs the kids are grinding to that particular summer, but without a doubt, every year, one song emerges as an uncontested victor in the contest to make me feels so uncomfortable about my presence in the room that it almost makes me nauseous. I would comment upon the context surrounding last year’s recipient of this award, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” but, as with all other instances of the most severe pathological trauma, I have expunged the details of this scene from my mind forever.
This year, I was certain we had a winner not thirty minutes out the gate, as I watched a gaggle of young ladies squeal when the opening synth crunch of Lady Gaga’s “Love Game” indicated that they would soon have the chance to mouth the words “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” in the general proximity of a number of post-pubescent male counselors. “Are you even old enough to know what she means when she says, ‘Got my ass squeezed by sexy Cupid’?” I muttered under my breath before realizing that I, too, was not. As I tried to avert my eyes when they all started choreographing a group dance to the chorus, I thought, game over. But fortunately for the campers, the middle-aged DJ-for-hire had another trick up his sleeve: Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex.” Shrieks of unanimous delight reverberated through the gymnasium as soon as the track’s disquietingly lullaby-esque intro played through the rented soundsystem. Soon enough they were all singing along to the digitized stutter of this middling R&B jam, as though the man responsible for it were one of the most revered artists of his generation rather than just another auto-tuned flavor of the month whose bizarre, questionably voweled moniker renders pronouncing it without sounding like an idiot nearly impossible. The chorus—which they all found a collective, mischievous joy in chanting as loud as they could—is the worst part of all. With every maddeningly unimaginative repetition of “Birthday sex / Birthday sex,” one is saddened by the fact that R. Kelly didn’t beat Jeremih to this title; just think of what sort of sophisticated and imagistic sexual innuendo Kels could have found in a concept as rich as this! (I’m sure “blow out my candle, girl” would have only been the beginning.)
There was no denying it, though: “Birthday Sex” was an overwhelming crowd-pleaser, and I was feeling almost unbearably nauseous by the third chorus. So congratulations, Jeremih, for tapping into the subconscious of the average American teenager and giving them another candy-coated auto-tuned morsel of the disposable, pseudo-raunch they so crave. I, on the other hand, emerge as the only loser in this contest, as every time I hear this song for the rest of my godforsaken life, I will be greeted by the repressed, unwelcome image of a bunch of brace-faced, be-pimpled 15 year olds slow-grinding to this song’s sad excuse for a beat.