Single Review: Travie McCoy ft. Bruno Mars – ‘Billionaire’

When embarking on a musical project, it’s good to let the public know just who you are, especially if you came from a reasonably background band when it comes to commercial success. Doing this let’s your fans and other casual listeners into your personal life, as the song and the lyrics you use should reflect you as a person. And if it does well, and is released in the summer, you’d want to make sure it sends out the right message too, because it’ll be very overplayed and many people are likely to become your detractors before your breakthrough solo career has even started. And surely, as it’s your single, you also want to show off your song-writing skills and your independence as a solo artist, to prove you no longer need a band or anyone else to support your musical endeavours, yes?

Well, Travie McCoy clearly hasn’t acknowledged this rule, has he? Just by looking at that title – ‘ft. Bruno Mars’, well it just goes to show he’s obviously a bit of a new-born Giraffe in the world of solo stardom as he’s had to latch a singer onto his record to help him stand-up.

Cynicism aside, let’s ignore the fact Bruno Mars has been asked to feature, and concentrate on the song, and what it says about Travie McCoy. Well it seems we’re in for another sob-fest from the emotional vocals Bruno Mars provides, crooning some desperate lyrics about wanting to be famous whilst strumming an acoustic guitar, Jason Mraz style… but more materialistic.

It’s only when Mr. McCoy jumps in to save you from falling asleep, that the song get’s some back-bone, his raps about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and how he’d “have a show like Oprah” are very tongue ‘n’ cheek, and the summery, metal drum and maracas make it stand out from the dance songs of the summer, which can only be seen as a good thing.

Unfortunately, Travie and Bruno have teamed up to do what must be the most self-centred, egotistical song that’s as easy to hate as George Bush’s inability to say the word ‘nuclear’.

Bruno Mars is clearly a talented singer, proving himself of B.o.B.’s début single ‘Nothin’ On You’, which went to #1 in the UK, to be a talented crooner of soppy tales about “Beautiful girls/All over the world” but if he’s so talented, he shouldn’t feel the need to swear like he does, in the first line of the chorus, he sings the word “fucking”, in what must be the most carefree way ever, like he knows he shouldn’t be saying it, but he’s been told to. It’s not sung in the ‘badass’ way you’d hear from Plan B or Eminem, so it comes off as stupidly thrown in to fill some syllable space and to be perfectly honest, it destroys the free-spirited, stripped away, summery feel of the song an just makes me want to turn it off.

Being a teenager of today, I’m no stranger to swearing, I’m also never usually bothered by it in songs, but Bruno Mars is the last person who should be crooning it out like you’d hear it in polite conversation.

The whole chorus is a mess – “I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad/Buy all of the thing I never had/I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine/Smilin’ next to Oprah and the Queen”. What a great message, and it just goes to show that if that’s all Travie McCoy has on his mind, he can go away. Like, now.

Else where in the song, the highlight comes when Bruno Mars sings the second chorus, with lots of loud instrumentation to accompany a much fiercer sounding Bruno, who has thankfully omitted the very out-of-place profanity this time around. But then, during the breakdown he adds it again, going very smooth like a baby’s bottom with Johnson’s lotion on it so it sticks out like Adam Lambert on Songs of Praise.

Annoying. And it seems that Mini Coopers are the new Porsches… expect the see Sean Kingston lumber haphazardly out of one of these babies in his next music video… he’s always getting out of cars at the beginning of them now.

Dappy will be jealous, his hat doesn’t let him listen to music when he’s wearing it. Did you not cringe and the very end when Bruno drew out the word “fucking” at the end? I’m sorry if you feel otherwise but it destroys anything the songs got going for it, Bruno’s part represents the more listenable part of the song – have you noticed that the overwhelming wave of new rappers that have sprung out of the ground in the last year all use a proper singer/song-writer the sing the chorus so that it provides the catchy vocal riff and makes the song on a whole more listenable?

Well, with that profanity, this song is not very listenable, not even the radio edit.

“I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad”… well so do the rest of us, and you got more money than we could ever dream of, so stop making us feel like shit; you don’t see us declaring our desires for money to the world with a namby-pamby guitar and a stupid hat, do you?


Rating: 2.5 STARS

Download: July 26, 2010

Featured Album: ‘Lazarus’

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    Wow…I loved it! I had a slightly different take on the lyrics to you though – it sounded like yes, he’d sort himself out with loads of bling (do we even say bling anymore?), but he’d also want to use his money to sort out some of the world’s problems.

    Point taken on including Bruno Mars for this, but I got the impression that it was more of a cool jam that had come about organically rather then manufactured by the record company. I could be being starry-eyed and optimistic though.

    Thing is, I like ‘Travie’. He’s a bit of a laid back dude from what I’ve seen of him, and he’s done a fair bit of charity work (from something I read recently). And as for the song, I do love the vibe from it…even the sweary bit!

  2. RandomEnigma

    I’m with Gerard on this one! I love this track – a really laidback, Summery pop tune. I will admit that when I first heard Bruno Mars croon out “I want to be a billionaire so fucking bad” in such a carefree way, my jaw dropped. But when you think about it, if I or many other people wanted or wished for something, we’d often exclaim “Ooooh I want that job so fucking bad” or “I want to buy that car so fucking bad”. It’s a common exclamation used by people when they dream/wish for something. I think it falls in well with the song – both Bruno and Travie sound very down to Earth for the most part and I agree again with Gerard that it doesn’t sound like it was manufactured by the record company but rather came about organically. Plus if you hear this song on the radio or music channels, it’s replaced with the word “fricking” so you’ll rarely hear the profanity version at all. At least they bothered to record a censored version of this rather than censors having to cover it up with an awkward sound effect.

    I know Travie and Bruno reference materialistic things in here but let’s not lie – we all dream about buying things for ourselves. If I was a billionaire, I’d want to build a massive empire like Oprah too and buy one (not loads of) fancy sports car or some nice materialistic thing for myself. The thing is Travie also references adopting children from poor countries as well as helping out his family and friends and helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. So really it stems deeper than the materialistic part referenced in the chorus.

    As for adding Bruno to the chorus…I know I whine about rappers using samples and guest vocalists all the time but the thing is…the public doesn’t want to listen to a rapper rhyme on his own. The only recent rap track I can think of that doesn’t feature a guest vocalist is Drake’s Over and Eminem’s Not Afraid (and even on that Eminem ‘sings’ the chorus).

    4 STARS from me.

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