It looks like Skylar Grey is going to do whatever it takes to get a hit record. And now that she’s begging to ride Eminem’s bicycle, she just might succeed.
Years ago, she appeared under the name Holly Brook and scored a hit as the featured vocalist on “Where’d You Go” by Fort Minor. Then she disappeared for a while before reemerging as Skylar Grey. She co-wrote “Love the Way You Lie” for Eminem and Rihanna, co-wrote and sang on “I Need a Doctor” by Dre and Em, and did the same on “Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money.
All those songs are pretty damn great, and that’s largely because of Grey’s massive hooks that blend somber lyrics with dark, urgent melodies. Taken together, those songs made Grey stand out as a writer and performer with a unique role to play in the hip-hop community.
But despite this momentum and credibility, Grey’s solo material didn’t click. Her song “Invisible” is pretty and moody, and you might recognize it from the trailer for Madonna’s movie W.E., but it certainly wasn’t a smash.
I’m guessing that’s why she still hasn’t released her debut album (which is currently slated for 2013.) When “Invisible” flopped, the powerful people in her corner—including Eminem, who is exec producing her record—probably decided she needed to try a new direction.
And if we’re supposed to judge by her new single “C’Mon Let Me Ride” (featuring Eminem), then it sounds like Grey’s new direction is “lady who will bang you.”
“C’Mon Let Me Ride” is really catchy, with a No Doubt-ish, reggae-hip-hop rhythm that immediately makes me want to dance. And Grey’s voice slithers around the beat like a serpent, proving she’s got serious chops as a singer. If you’re going to make a mindless sex record, then it should be this good.
But here’s my question: If this is the persona that launches Skylar Grey’s solo career, won’t we all be losing something? If “drunk party girl” is the woman she becomes, does that mean losing the moodier, richer artist she used to be?
It’s possible, of course, that “C’Mon Let Me Ride” is just radio bait, the way that “Thrift Shop” is unlike the rest of Macklemore’s brilliant record. And if that’s the case, I guess it’s cool. If Grey gets everyone’s attention with a sex kitten song but attention but keeps it with meatier work, then it’s not so bad.
But if this is just who Grey is now—if this is the outfit she’s wearing so that people will love her—then it IS a bad thing.
And I’m not trying to be a “slut shamer.” If women want to write songs about being horny, then they should. However, given everything else she’s ever done, it seems like Grey horniness is dishonest. It seems like she’s gotten horny because she thinks it will give her a hit. And if we’re getting cheap, hollow horniness at the expense of a more compelling music, then I’d rather keep my legs closed for a while.
Mark Blankenship is pretty sure this song is going to be a hit. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.