The lightweight pleasures of Drake's "Started From the Bottom"

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Drake mid-dance move
  • Drake mid-dance move
Yesterday Odd Future mastermind-slash-lightning-rod Tyler, the Creator tweeted the most succinct and spot-on appraisal of Drake's new single, "Started From the Bottom," that I've seen yet: "I ENJOY THE STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM SONG ALOT." I too enjoy the "Started From the Bottom" song. It's an easy song to like, with a chorus that Drake manages to transmute from an awkward mouthful of words to an inescapably catchy hook, and the kind of aspiration-provoking "me and my friends living our wildest dreams" kind of lyrical theme that Drake's long leaned on to help offset the public perception of him as a spoiled child actor coasting off a full tank of upper-middle-class privilege.

There's some interesting musical stuff going on, but nothing challenging. The buzzing hi-hats are pretty cool, and the sub-bass keyboard has an almost comic rotundity, but in an environment where rap artists seem locked in a struggle to see who can put together the weirdest sonic palette and sell it as a pop song, congratulating producer Mike Zombie for these flourishes would be like praising a psych-rock band in 1967 as daring for using a fuzzbox and double-tracked vocals.

But it's exactly this low-key, no-pressure charm that makes me happy to see "Started From the Bottom" entering the Hot 100 at number 63, from where it will no doubt begin a rise toward the top of the chart, and guessing from the enthusiastic response to the song so far it'll probably hang out up there for a long time. The song will likely still be in heavy rotation by the time people start driving around with their windows open, and it's entirely possible that it'll hang out long enough to become a summer jam.

In this context "Started From the Bottom"'s low-stakes approach is likely to turn out to be one of its strengths. The pop charts have recently boasted an impressive number of challenging singles, but once they reach the saturation level of a hit song, their novelty wears off and they become tiresome. Drake's latest may be sonic junk food, but I can see myself happily gorging myself on it for months to come.

Miles Raymer writes about what's on the charts on Tuesday.

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