The Bottom Line
Anchored by a powerful, haunting pop chorus, B.o.B., aka Bobby Ray, dips into something much deeper and complex than his debut #1 smash "Nothin' On You." Hayley Williams, lead vocalist of Paramore is brought in to deliver the chorus with a slightly fragile, longing beauty matching the lyrics with perfection. Part II of the song also features a rap from Eminem that only complicates the subject matter. This is one of the most intensely emotional hit singles of the year so far.
- Emotionally involving lyrics
- Hayley Williams' vocals
- A universally moving chorus
- No significant negatives
- Written by B.o.B, Jeremy "Kinetics" Dussolliet, and Tim "One Love" Sommers
- Produced by Alex Da Kid & DJ Frank E
- Released April 2010 by Atlantic Records
Guide Review - B.o.B. - "Airplanes" featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore
Rapper B.o.B., aka Bobby Ray, is one of the top breakout pop and hip hop artists of 2010. Those watching the hip hop world closely have seen him coming since 2008. However, his single "Nothin' On You," which hit #1 this week, has blasted B.o.B. into mainstream pop music consciousness. "Nothin' On You" is a masterful melodic hip hop love song instantly catching the attention of pop radio programmers and fans alike. The follow-up single "Airplanes" is a strong shift in emotional mood, but once again B.o.B. rivets the attention of listeners as he tells his story.
The chorus of "Airplanes" is stunningly simple and powerful. "Can we pretend that airplanes / In the night sky / Are like shooting stars / I could really use a wish right now." The desire for having a wish come true doesn't only happen when the falling star makes its random appearance. The verse explores Bobby Ray's desire to go back in time when he wasn't beset by all the pressures of being an upcoming rap star. He wishes for the days, "Before the politics that we call the rap game." This is the second major hip hop release to focus on reflections on sudden stardom in recent months. Drake's "Over" examines the response to overnight success.
Part 2 of "Airplanes" adds a rap by Eminem and digs even deeper into complex emotion. Eminem reflects on what would have happened if "Marshall Mathers never picked up a pen." Ultimately he concludes he would, "Have a hard time explaining to Haley and Laney these food stamps and WIC," because he didn't take the risk. The complex emotions involved in the conflict between playing it safe vs. taking risks and dealing with the consequenes of success are explored with an arresting immediacy.
"Airplanes" is the rare pop single that works both as a catchy, singalong song that will sound great on the car radio while it also rewards close, repeated listening. The emotion here is palpable even when you are not concentrating on the words. It's abundantly clear that B.o.B. is a major new talent. His songs have gone to the upper reaches of the pop charts in much the same fashion as another melodic rapper Flo Rida. However, there is an emotional complexity to "Nothin' On You" and "Airplanes" that takes the songs to a different league.