Back in Time

Back in Time by krin.jpg

Date Aired
June 11th, 2012
Running Time
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Todd plays "Back in Time" on his piano.

A pop song review

Todd: As a wise man once said, to understand the future, we have to go back in time. So let me take you back.

Video for Will Smith - "Men in Black"

Todd: Woo!

Chorus: We're called the Men in Black.

Todd (VO): The year is 1997, and rapper/actor Will Smith, [cover of People] already white-hot off the success of Independence Day the year before, cements his superstar status with the sci-fi action comedy Men in Black.

Will Smith: The title held by me - M.I.B.

Todd (VO): That film becomes the biggest hit of the summer, as moviegoers flock to go see the crowd-pleasing heroics of a [picture of old guy in a suit] faceless government bureaucracy with ["Conspriracy" poster] zero accountability or transparency, preventing humanity from making [Daily Record headline of Roswell UFO sighting] vast breakthroughs in our understanding of [alien on stretcher] science and the universe.

Todd: Geez, where's Wikileaks when you need it?

Will: Let me see ya just bounce it with me

Todd (VO): In addition to the movie, Will Smith relaunches his then-sidelined rap career by performing a theme song for the movie, which will also become inescapably huge that summer and give him the momentum to make his [clip of "Gettin' Jiggy wit It"] solo music career a smash success for years to come. But it won't last.

Video for "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)"
Will: Nod ya head like this

Todd (VO): Five years later, Men in Black II, both the theme song and the movie, become huge flops, and with Will's musical relevance already being shredded by his defiantly corny wholesomeness, it comes as a surprise to no one when he abandons hip-hop shortly thereafter.

Todd: Flash forward to 2012, where...

Clips from Men in Black III

Todd (VO): ...Will Smith is putting together the long-overdue third movie in the Men in Black franchise. [Brief clip of Will Smith interview] Smith, now a 43-year-old man who hasn't rapped in nearly a decade, is clearly no longer a suitable candidate to write a promotional theme song.

Agent J: I am getting too old for this.

Todd: And so the king of family-friendly party raps for decades,...

Clip of "Gettin Jiggy wit It"

Todd (VO): ...a man famously proud of his ability to write songs without obscenities, turned his duties over to his obvious successor, [Video for Pitbull ft. Lil Jon - "Culo"] a former drug dealer whose first hit was named after the Spanish word for "ass."

Pitbull: Culo!
Lil Jon: Let's go

Todd (VO): You know, I really used to think Pitbull was the worst rapper ever, but around about the time I did [clip for "Give Me Everything"] my first full review of one of his songs, I think I kind of downgraded my hate for him. Pitbull is...harmless. [Clips of "Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)" and "International Love"] He's not good, but there are worse things out there than his brand of stupid party music. And really, he kind of makes sense as a replacement for Will Smith because at some point, there became absolutely nothing threatening about him. I gotta admit, when I found out Pitbull was doing the new Men in Black theme, I honestly got pretty excited for it.

Todd: So, [picture of Will Smith with space guns] old and busted, [picture of Pitbull] new hotness. And there were a lot of reasons I was looking forward to this.

Video for Kenny Loggins - "Footloose"

Todd (VO): Soundtrack hits, you know, they used to be a big thing and they were a lot of fun, damn it. And we just don't have them anymore. Possibly because of the decline of album sales, putting together a soundtrack just doesn't make any sense. I guess there are still hit songs from movies, but I can't think of any in the past ten years that's really tied with the movie it came from. [Clips of Kenny Loggins's...] You can't hear "Danger Zone" without thinking of Top Gun, but [...Evanescence's...] "Bring Me to Life" doesn't make me think of Daredevil and [...and Bruno Mars's...] "It Will Rain" doesn't make me think of Breaking Dawn.

Todd: So I was actually looking forward to a real movie theme hit.

Clips from Men in Black III

Todd (VO): And with both Men in Black III and Pitbull's theme for it doing far better than I expected them to, I figure we should take a look. Now, fitting with Men in Black IIIs time-travel motif, its theme song is entitled [single cover of...] "Back in Time" apparently because Pitbull was unaware that a [clip of Huey Lewis - "Back in Time"] much better time-travel movie already stole that title.

Todd: But regardless, when I finally listened to it, I can only say that my heart filled with delight because, ladies and gentlemen, this song met all my expectations for that it is a complete and utter disaster.

Video for "Back in Time"

Todd (VO): In fact, it might be the worst possible theme song for a Men in Black movie conceived of by the human mind. It's a total failure as a pop single, as a rap single, as a theme song, as a promotional tie-in for Men in Black III...

Todd: Really, I don't even know where to start.

Pitbull: It's Mr. Worldwide

Todd (VO): Well, I guess a good place to start would be with the sample.

Clip from the film
Agent J: You're gonna send me back to 1969.

Todd (VO): Now since the bulk of Men in Black III takes place in 1969, surely we can pull off some of the late-60s vibe.

Todd: Maybe some Jimi Hendrix, a little Velvet Underground or some Rolling Stones...

Pitbull: Back, back in time
Mickey & Sylvia: Baby, ohhh baby

Todd (VO): Um...okay. That song is from...yeah, that's from [single cover of Mickey & Sylvia - "Love Is Strange"] 1956. That's...

Todd: ...more than a decade off. Also that song was...

Clip from Dirty Dancing

Todd (VO): ...pretty definitively claimed by a different movie. Then again, Dirty Dancing was also [clip of Eric Carmen - "Hungry Eyes"] a movie that didn't know which decade its music was supposed to be from.

Todd: And...this is the chorus.

Mickey & Sylvia: Baby, ohhh baby

Todd (VO): And it plays over and over again, you hear it over again, and they didn't change any of the words. They just plopped the sample right in there.

Mickey & Sylvia: My sweet baby
You're the one

Todd (VO): "My sweet baby"? "You're the one"? What the living crap does this have to do with Men in Black?

Todd: Do Agent J and Agent K fall in love in this movie? [pause] Not that I'm opposed to watching that...

Todd (VO): Okay, to be fair, that guitar lick is pretty solid, and if they'd based the whole song around that riff, it could've worked. But for reasons I can't fathom, they swap out the guitar thing for one of the stiffest, dorkiest-sounding hip-hop beats I've ever heard.

Mickey & Sylvia: Baby, ohhh baby
Continues as Todd mimics the beat

Todd (VO): So the beat sucks, the chorus sucks, and...

Todd: ...holy crap, we haven't even gotten to Pitbull yet.

Pitbull: Let's excuse me baby
Go, yeah you baby
Back, ooh you groovy baby

Todd: Groovy baby.

Clip from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin: Oh, groovy, baby.

Todd (VO): Okay, already this song is doing nothing but reminding me of movies that aren't Men in Black. And when the chorus is this ridiculously irrelevant, Pitbull is gonna have to make up for it in his lyrics, and he's already behind.

Todd: But that was just the intro. Let's...let's see what he does in the verses.

Mickey & Sylvia: You're the one
Pitbull: Miami equals...

Todd (VO): Stop.

Todd: Time out. One word in, and we're already wrong.

Todd (VO): Men in Black doesn't go anywhere near Miami. It stays pretty confined to New York.

Todd: I think you may be thinking of a [clip of "Miami"] different Will Smith song, Pitbull.

Will Smith: I'm goin to Miami
Girls: Welcome to Miami

Todd: Okay, I know you gotta rep for your hometown, Pit, but get back on track here.

Pitbull: Miami equals black mask, black gloves

Todd (VO): Stop!

Todd: masks? The MIB aren't [picture of...] bank robbers, Pitbull. [Movie poster with arrow pointing at sunglasses] They don't wear masks, they never wore masks.

Todd (VO): And Miami equals...

Pitbull: Black suits, white shirts

Todd (VO): I'm pretty sure black masks and suits aren't [picture of spring break] appropriate clothing for Miami either.

Todd: What the hell are you talking about? Rap about Men in Black, damn it.

Pitbull: I’m a go-getter, mover, shaker, culture, bury a boarder, record-breaker won’t cha

Todd (VO): Right...that's about you.

Pitbull: I'm tryin' make a billion out of 15 cents
Understand, understood

Todd (VO): Also about you.

Pitbull: Give credit where credit is due don’t cha
Know that I don't give a number two

Todd (VO): And...that's a poop joke.

Todd: Does this song even mention...aliens? Flying saucers, laser guns, flashy thingies?

Todd (VO): Pitbull, please demonstrate that you know more than absolute jack squat about what you're rapping about. This song just screams, "I don't care about these movies." Hell, it literally screams that!

Pitbull: I don't give a number two

Todd (VO): It stops the song in midstream so that Pitbull can scream a euphemism for shit, as in, "this song doesn't know these movies worth a..."

Pitbull: Number two

Todd: Okay, I guess it does mention the movies a little. It does mention the main characters.

Pitbull: Agent J or Agent K

Todd (VO): Apparently he's even an agent now.

Pitbull: It's Mr Worldwide, Agent A, Reporting live

Todd (VO): Agent A? Your name begins...

Todd: Okay, I guess that's after his real name, Armando. I guess he didn't want to be Agent P because, you know, let's pre-empt the obvious toilet humor, right?

Pitbull: Number two

Todd: Right?

Pitbull: I got the globe, yeah, in the palm of my hand
Wherever I spin it, that's where I land

Todd: It''s nice that you travel around the world, Pitbull, but you're not writing an Indiana Jones theme. Like, the Men in Black, they basically stay in New York. There are three movies and they don't generally leave New York.

Pitbull: Men In Black I know you understand

Todd: Yeah, I understand. Do you understand? Men in Black is not about you, Pitbull. I mean, this is exactly why the studios rejected your James Bond theme!

007 logo with familiar riff

Todd (as Pitbull): Mr. 305. Mr. Worldwide. Pitbull. Pitbull. I'm Pitbull. Also James Bond or something.

Todd: No, no, maybe I'm just not listening closely enough. Maybe this song actually is about Men in Black and I'm just not thinking about it hard enough. Let me see.

Pitbull: Don’t cha know that I don't give a number two

Todd (VO): Okay, that's a reference to the [clip of...] toilet scene in Men in Black II, right?

Agent J: Woo! Flush.
Pitbull: Miami equals...

Todd (VO): Well...they go to Cape Canaveral in the third one. That's in Florida, it's close.

Todd: See? It''s getting there.

Pitbull: Stop the movement, they can try if they want to
Ignorar lo latino, si, they can try if they want to

Todd: [pause] Okay, we're gonna have to ignore the duplicate rhyme there. But you see, this also has to do with Men in Black. See, that translates as...

Pitbull: Stop the movement, they can try if they want to
Ignorar lo latino, si [Ignore the Latinos, yeah?], they can try if they want to

Todd: So...this song is about the growing power of the Latino demographic. Okay, okay, I got it, I got it, I got this one. Okay, see think. What's the very first scene in Men in Black?

Clips from Men in Black

Todd (VO): It's a bunch of Mexicans being caught trying to cross the border illegally, and then the Men in Black step in and let them all go except the one that's an interplanetary lizard monster.

Agent K: You fellows can hit the floor. Keep on protecting us from the dangerous aliens.

Todd (VO): See, with that line, they even mocked the INS agents as unnecessary and useless, making the specific comparison between the legitimately dangerous extraterrestrials and the benign, hard-working immigrants. Really the entire franchise is a defense of the entire Latino-American community! It all makes sense now!

Todd: What the hell am I talking about?!

Todd (VO): What's the relevance of any of this? WHAT DO ANY OF THESE WORDS MEAN?!

Agent K: They mean precisely dick.

Todd (VO): Okay, well if this song is a failure to the Men in Black theme, does it work on its own? Maybe I can just buy it as yet another single where Pitbull raps about how much money he makes with a couple weird Men in Black references thrown in there for who knows why.

Todd: I mean, Pitbull can at least do that properly, right?

Pitbull: Despite a big loss, I’d bet it all
And fought blind against the world, Ray Charles

Todd (VO): Oh. Okay, we're still doing this, huh?

Todd: I'd kinda hoped this was dead. See, this is...

Clip from Young Money ft Lloyd - "BedRock"

Todd (VO): ...a style of hip-hop lyric writing where you say a line, and then you add a word or phrase after it that's vaguely related to the previous sentence.

Lil Wayne: But I keep her runnin' back and team

Todd (VO): I've heard it called punchline rap, [clip of Drake - "Over"] which is a misnomer because it's not funny.

Drake: I can teach you how to speak my language, Rosetta stone

Todd (VO): And I've also heard it called hashtag rap, after Twitter hashtags, but that doesn't make any sense either because Twitter doesn't work like that. No one tweets: [twitter entry typed] "Finding out I had herpes was quite a shock! #pikachu"

Anytime anyone uses this style of rap, they're admitting, I thought I had a setup for a joke here, but I couldn't put it together, so I'm just gonna drop all the words in a wet flop in front of you and let you figure it out.

Todd: Also I thought everyone pretty much agreed to stop doing that two years ago. So...yeah, Pitbull...

Todd (VO): ...I guess you really are taking us back in time.

No, I don't think it was too much to ask a Men in Black song to be about Men in Black. But then again, maybe a new theme song for Men in Black III could never have worked. [Clip from "Men in Black"] Maybe Men in Black was a franchise that could only ever sustain one song. That first one pretty much covered everything. I mean, do you remember the theme song from [clip of Run-DMC - "Ghostbusters"] Ghostbusters II? Of course you don't. You only need [clip of the original by Ray Parker Jr.] one song about Ghostbusters and it's called "Ghostbusters".

As for what Pitbull wrote, there is no way this could be any worse than it already is. This song is a disaster. It came out as rushed as the ending of Men in Black III, and it reveals why you don't try to get someone as painfully limited as Pitbull to write about anything but the standard hip-hop bullshit. Pitbull has clearly done everything he can to make this as awful as possible, and there is nothing he can do to make it any worse.

Todd: Well, maybe one thing. Did someone say dubstep?!

Clip of the song's dubstep section
Mickey and Sylvia: My sweet baby

Todd (VO): Wow, I love the way it mixes this 1950s rock 'n roll song with dubstep. Just melds together so well. This is no longer funny-bad.

Todd: Ugh, Will, you gotta help a brother out.

Back to Will Smith - "Men in Black"
Agent J: Sorry. [Flashes Neuralyzer]

Todd: And...and that concludes my seven-part series about Elvis Costello and the post-punk movement of the late 70s. Thank you all for watching. I'm...someone, and I'm out.

Gets up and leaves

Closing tag song: Johnny Cash - "Man in Black"

"Back in Time" is owned by MCA Records
This video is owned by me

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