Nelly's "Hey Porsche" is the Best Thing I Heard This Week
This song is terrifyingly, joyously perfect.
Above is the terrifyingly good music video for Nelly's new single "Hey Porsche." There is no way to get around it; this is an unabashed pop-country song and it's done with the skill and precision of someone who's been making skilled and precise pop-rap since before most of us hit puberty. Reaction to the song has been mixed, at best. Duncan Cooper at Fader started his blog post on it by saying, "This is not a good song," and then goes on to write a fairly comprehensive paragraph on the song anyway. Meanwhile on Noisey's British side, Ryan Bassil called it "terrible" and "amazing" in the span of two sentences. He's only half right, because "Hey Porsche" is nothing short of stunning, and if you don't fully understand that you are on the losing side of the culture war that is engulfing America. It's Wendesday, and I'm already prepared to crown this the Best Thing I Heard This Week.
"Hey Porsche" is clinically perfect, hitting all of the exact same pleasure centers as songs like Taylor Swift's "Love Story," fun.'s "Some Nights," Flo Rida's "I Cry," and R. Kelly's storied remix to "Ignition," the gold standard by which all pop songs of any genre should be judged. "Hey Porsche" uses the same metaphor as a million other songs, that of the motorized vehicle as a metaphor for a girl that Nelly would like to have sex with. Obviously, it is not as good or as nuanced as Prince's "Little Red Corvette" or The-Dream's "Fast Car," but it might be a strong third.
The music video itself is also pretty glorious. Nelly works as the world's wealthiest mechanic, seducing a girl by sing-rapping at her and then taking her for a ride through the desert in his Porsche. Rarely are both of his hands on the steering wheel, because part of having fun is not being in control. He also dances in front of a car and does work in an office, where he is interrupted by his new girlfriend. I guess the video doesn't really have a plot as much as it tries to evoke a feeling of freedom and accessibility—everyone wants to pretend they're rugged, everyone likes nice things, and everyone wants to have sex with someone, and everyone likes dancing in ways that are not very difficult. "Hey Porsche" is the best song because it's so incredibly joyous and simultaneously accessible. You're singing along by the second chorus, and that's not an accident.
Nelly has always been an artist with something of a split personality, jumping back and forth between making music to flex on people to to making music to soundtrack middle school dances. "Country Nigga Fly," his other recent single, is as hard and uncompromising as anything that might have fallen out of Young Dro's Polo cargo shorts, and we can't forget that the "Hey Porsche" dude is also the guy who started one of his most famous songs by rapping, "It must be ya ass 'cuz it ain't your face."
While some people might be miffed that Nelly is releasing what is essentially a pop-country song, they shouldn't be in the least. Dude has always had more than a little bit of country in him—he named his biggest record Country Grammar, for crying out loud. Lots of his biggest hits have featured those bouncy little poppy guitars that flatten any type of music so that it becomes accessible to anyone, even moms. "Hey Porsche" is basically a slightly poppier "Ride Wit Me," adjusted for the sonic zeitgeist of 2013. Other "Hey Porsche"-esque Nelly songs you should consider include his collaboration with Tim McGraw "Over and Over," and his recent "Just a Dream," which is damn near a stadium rock song. "Hey Porsche" is not an outlier in the Nellyography, and it's not an abomination to pop-rap at all. It's just a perfect song, and if you don't like it or feel conflicted about liking it, it's probably because you have a problem with easy things.
Drew Millard does not own a car. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard