A guest blog written by Mikhael Agafonov. You can agree/disagree with him here.
Song: ‘Wild Wild Love’
Artist: Pitbull ft. G.R.L.
US Chart Peak: 30
Release date: February 25, 2014
Writers: Armando C. Pérez, Dr. Luke, Michael Everett, Max Martin, Ammar Malik, Alexander Castillo
Producers: Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Cirkut, A.C
Quintessential Max moment: The “Nah-nah-nah’s”-infested outro.
Video Synopsis: It doesn’t deserve anymore notice given to it really.
What kind of world are we living at if a Pitbull song can be described as “nostalgic”? ‘Wild Wild Love’ marked a sweet moment in February of 2014 when everything looked promising. Dr Luke wasn’t battling Kesha in court yet. G.R.L. were a rising pop band, fresh off their surprisingly punchy Smurfs 2-approved debut single ‘Vacation’ and still six months away from Simone Battle’s tragic suicide that eventually broke the band (until it reunited with a majorly updated line-up last year). And Pitbull was, well, pitbulling like he will probably do ‘til the end of days.
The collaboration served as a perfect opportunity for Dr Luke to roll out his newest project. On paper G.R.L. were destined to become big: originally created as The Pussycat Dolls 2.0 by the hair-flipping lady boss Robin Antin, the fivesome was eventually allowed to have a life and a name of its own and sent to Dr Luke’s A&R camp. All parties involved said “Dale!” and united for what was meant to become a grandiose follow-up to Pitbull’s rare moment of true pop brilliance (‘Timber’). Unfortunately, lighting doesn’t strike twice in Miami. ‘Wild Wild Love’ looked more like a sexed-up PowerPoint presentation rather than a proper release.
Pitbull team suddenly decided to abandon their sampling tactics: no ‘80s hit was harmed in the making of ‘Wild Wild Love’. Yet it’s still the only song by G.R.L. that managed to crack Billboard’s Hot 100 (and land on a sweet #30). Shockingly, much superior ‘Ugly Heart’ never charted in the US.
The song’s main problem is its Frankenstein’s monster DNA. It just doesn’t flow well – and I don’t mean it in the risk-taking way that Lorde’s ‘Green Light’ or lots of Girls Aloud songs did. It is basically a Max Martin-curated folky-pop chorus that was dumped on top a generic clubby Pitbull number in the messiest manner possible. It sounds like an amateur DJ switched the crossfader halfway through.
It is one of the least Max Martin songs of all the Max Martin creations. Instead of trying to be a campy, fun banger it became a lazily-crafted underdeveloped banger. There are some nice touches here and there (Paula’s “Who you?” following Pitbull’s claim that he’s “the new play boy” is rather iconic). Pitbull’s usual arsenal of tongue-in-cheek/hand-on-her-cheeks jokes mostly fall flat while G.R.L. has no time to showcase each member’s individuality and belt anything as grandiose as Christina Aguilera’s guest stint on Pitbull’s ‘Feel This Moment’. And individuality they had plenty, as proven by G.R.L.’s monumental single ‘Ugly Heart’, which put the folky ways of ‘Wild Wild Love’ to much better use.
Since Max Martin clearly had nothing to do with Mister 305’s verses (these scream Dr Luke), we’ll concentrate on the chorus and the bridge. “Acoustic” guitars and whistling were ultra en vogue back in the days, but the nostalgic vibe of the chorus sounds a bit off in a song that features lyrics like, “I don’t know if I can handle all five, but baby we can try tonight”. G.R.L. are clearly delirious about who they’ve agreed to collaborate with: they’re singing about wild love, he’s rapping about getting “wild dirty freaky nasty”. This just isn’t going to work out, sorry.
The song does get progressively better towards the second half, when the ladies join Pitbull on the punchy “You need it, you want it, all over your body” bridge before gaining full control of the song and breaking into some unavoidable choreographed dance number in the video. It makes us think that were G.R.L. to record a no-dogs-allowed solo cut of the song, we’d end with a decent pop group offering: clearly not a lead single material, but something sweet to perhaps sail off an album (which the band never released).
Max Martin’s secret weapon – a killer middle-eight – lays collecting dust somewhere in the studio this time around: ‘Wild Wild Love’ criminally lacks any sort of middle eight whatsoever. It does, however, end with a bunch of hands-in-the-air ‘nah-nah-nahs’ and a small dose of Martin’s trademark pop chaos of a finale. Lauren Bennet gets a final “…of ours” and a close-up with Pitbull: she clearly deserved it after serving in not one, but two Robin Antin-generated girlbands (before G.R.L. she sang about ‘Patron Tequila’ as a member of two-singles-only band Paradiso Girls). And just like that, the song and our collective memory of it is gone. Long live this 2014 of ours.
But at least G.R.L. had fun working with Max. “Every song we did where we had the pleasure of working with Max was an absolute dream come true,” the newly formed trio told me. “He is one of the most humble, down-to-earth and talented human beings of all time! ‘Wild Wild Love’ was a pure joy to record. Max has a magic ear and a magic touch with all he produces.”
If you’d like to write a guest blog on a Max Martin song that didn’t make the US Top 10 then there’s information on how to do that right here.