Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Review: Black Eyed Peas - My Humps

The Black Eyed Peas hail from Los Angeles, far away from the steppes of China and Mongolia. Nevertheless, that rock group's latest musical hit, "My Humps" conjures images of such landscapes, due mainly to the song's main refrain ostensibly being sung by a camel.

"My Humps" is a journey into the trials and tribulations of a Bactrian Camel who is forced to carry a large trunk full of goods, and her master, accross the Asian plains. We find out near the beginning of the song, when the camel is asked, "What are you going to do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk?" At this point we may only imagine a large trunk or chest, full of bric-a-brac. However, we soon find out what is in the trunk, with her simple answer, "I am going to get, get, get [sic] you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump!" The trunk is apparently full of alcoholic beverages. For this reason I would not recommend allowing children to listen to this song. Further, by her mention of her hump, we start to imagine a camel. At first we may imagine a Dromedary, as the camel has only referred to a single hump. It is later in the song that we realize she must be a Bactrian, after she refers to her (plural) humps "in the back and in the front."

The poor creature must also carry her master, for whom she appears to harbour some affection: "My humps they have got you spending all your money on me and spend your time on me." So it appears the relationship between camel and master is one based on a great deal of time spent together, perhaps via travel across the steppes. As we wonder about this odyssey during the song, we notice there is another creature in the story, an ass. "What are you going do with all that ass, all that ass inside those jeans?"

At this point I must admit I was a bit confused, what with an ass wearing dungarees, but I defer to artistic license at this point and refrain from criticism until later. It is once the song begins its commercialistic, gratuitous gastronomy exhibition that I begin to question the artists' true intent. "You can be my honey", and "Mix your milk with my cocoa puff," speak of merchandising and sponsorship.

This disappointment is not diminished by the camel's empowerment nearer the end of the song. Apparently she has a selection of poultry breasts in her trunk, wrapped in a shirt, and she turns the tables on her master by suggesting he will be the one who must now do the work:

What are you going to do with all that breast?
All that breast inside that shirt?
I’m going to make, make, make, make [sic] you work
Make you work, work, make you work

But this reversal of fortune does little to appease our sensibilities. In my view, all it does is justify a sort of "revenge of forced labour" between owner and owned. Call it tit for tat, but does it make the world a better place?

Thus, verily, what starts out as an exotic, visceral, if adult experience degrades into an anthem for spending money on American commercial goods. Visceral, yes, in that these goods are aliments, but the overt advertising leaves the listener with a hungry and, ultimately, a strangely unsatisfied feeling.


Anonymous riemer said...

"For this reason I would not recommend allowing children to listen to this song"..

oh my, what *would* you let children listen to if lyrics are that easily offending?

Otherwise, good review, thanks!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Well, we allll know the eevils of alcohohol. Besides, I have a trunk full of alcohololic bebverages, and I don't want my kids getting in there. Again. Last time I ended up being dry for a week, and I bublished this plog!

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