Lady Killer’ a knockout

“The Lady Killer” by Cee Lo Green — the vocalist from Gnarls Barkley — is sure to be considered one of the great R&B/soul albums of 2010. The album is centered around the musical theme of the ‘50s, with doo-wop, slow dance songs and tight harmonies. On listening to the first couple tracks, listeners are sure to think otherwise, but as the album blossoms, the musical ideas of the ‘50s are put front and center.  The intro, “Lady Killer Theme,” sets up the story behind the album. Green tells the listener that he has a license to kill ladies over a backdrop of James Bond-style instrumentation.  The intro then blends right into “Bright Lights Bigger City.”  A techno backdrop to introduce the piece strongly contrasts the violin heard at the end of the intro piece. The highlight of the song comes during each of the choruses in which the techno intro is repeated while being backed by Green, violins, drums and bass.  The most famous song of the album, “Fuck You,” follows “Bright Lights.”  This song has gained huge popularity over the Internet due to its use of ‘50s rock styling and the modern day story of an unrequited love that lasts the entirety of the narrator’s young life.  The highlight of the album by far, Green uses catchy beats and lyrics full of popular culture references to produce one of the biggest hits of the year, and one of my favorites.  “Bodies” is my least favorite piece on the album. The lyrics seem out of place with the previous songs and the premise of the song is very bland.  “Satisfied” is a song that follows in much the same vein as “Fuck You.” A cheery introduction of lively horns sets up Green’s verse in which he autotunes his voice for the first time, with great effect. An all-girl group of backup singers sing all the choruses. All the reasons to love “Fuck You” apply to “Satisfied,” another highlight of the album.  In “Cry Baby” — my personal favorite song on the album — Green incorporates a vibrant horn section, violins and backup singers that can be heard in all of the following songs.  “Old Fashioned” is just as the title says, but in a good way. The listener is swept into a slow bass line and somewhat jumpy piano part that sounds exactly like a ‘50s slow dance as Green calls his love old fashioned — much like his reference to the Atari gaming system in “Fuck You.”  The outro, also named “The Lady Killer Theme,” continues much like the intro did but with a rock guitar part starting the piece off. The album ends with a chorus singing “lady killer.” This album was one of the few R&B albums this year that I have been able to listen from start to finish without skipping over any of the songs.  Green’s ability to mix ‘50s sounds with modern storytelling succeeds in such an engrossing fashion. The backup singers definitely helped strengthen the album, particularly on “Satisfied.” Pretty much every song except “Bodies” is great and should definitely be a new part of your collection.