Loving Cee-Lo Green

More

I discovered Cee-Lo Green by accident. Back in the day, by which I mean 2004, I'd downloaded something that I thought was...well, I can't even remember what I was looking for now, but that turned out to be Cee-Lo's self-aware, virtuosic lament about the failure of his career to take off, "Die Trying." I was instantly a convert, a junkie, a follower. I had people over to my dorm room and forced them to listen to all of Cee-Lo Green...Is the Soul Machine. The guy was simultaneously a roly-poly loverman and a hyperactive sex fiend, a thoughtful analyst of family gone wrong and the Source's rating system for albums, a guy with a gritty, articulate mid-tempo flow and a crooner who really just kind of wants to be Frank Sinatra. 


I was always pleased by the playful success of Gnarls Barkley (Cee-Lo as a chubby Darth Vader with Chewbacca playing drums is one of my favorite pop cultural fragments of the decade). But I never particularly cared about Danger Mouse. My investment in the temp-group was always as a vehicle for Cee-Lo's glorious weirdness to a larger audience. So it seems appropriate, after a summer in which he's released a stellar mix tape, that he'd show up, sweaty and with nerd glasses and tattoos, wandering through woods and dry grass, on a video for a song that's also on the Eclipse soundtrack:

"What part of forever don't you understand" would sound kind of creepy as just another Edward Cullenism, but with Cee-Lo warbling it against a whistling backdrop and musing about what it would be like "If I had a heart" it's a delightful bit of weirdness all its own. More to the point, the combination of the look, the association with the sublimely sincere Twilight franchise, and Cee-Lo's take on pop is precisely what I love about the guy. It's mass culture precisely on his terms, and I hope that the release of his full-length album this fall will make listeners decide that those terms should be theirs as well. 

If this song isn't precisely your cup of tea, "Georgia" is a superior, more emotionally complicated and personal track:

I could listen to him sing "I'm moving on, using mostly dirt roads until I find my way" pretty much forever.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In