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Erykah Badu's "Window Seat" video is great; the song itself? Not so much

"Window Seat" - Erykah Badu (NSFW)

By Sarah Godfrey

By now, most people have likely seen, or at least heard about, the video for “Window Seat,” the lead single from Erykah Badu’s “New Amerykah Pt 2., Return of the Ankh.” Inspired by Matt and Kim’s “Lessons Learned,” it explores artistic assassination, group think and, oh yeah, Badu's birthday suit.

There’s a lot to say about “Window Seat” -- for a brilliant unpacking of the complicated business of black women baring all, check out Natalie Hopkinson over at the Root, and for not-so thought-provoking observations on the surprising circumference of Badu’s booty, see the YouTube comments .

(Controversial video, kinda boring song, after the jump.)

The video is a big, bold artistic statement -- and it’s also a huge save: the controversy, discussion, and dissection that have surrounded it have helped added a sharp edge to what is easily one of the most dull, ho-hum Badu tracks in recent memory.

"Window Seat" the song is a creative step back for Badu, returning her to the less political, more straight-forward soul style of "On and On," "Next Lifetime," or any of the pretty, simple love songs from 1997’s "Baduizm." The track is at odds with the rest of "New Amerykah Pt 2," a sonically and lyrically complex look at love.

Jazzing up a boring single with an amazing video is a trick Badu has used before: "Honey," the catchy, if not exactly groundbreaking lead single from "New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War)" was spiced up with a stimulating vid of Erykah recreating the covers of classic hip-hop and soul albums and urging viewers to support their local record stores.

Oftentimes, drab and safe is what's required of a viable radio single, and it could be that Badu was forced to release the least interesting track on the album as the single, and the video is her response to that. Or, perhaps it's just a calculated move to please her diverse fan group. Those who enjoy Badu's more daring work may be willing to forgive the formulaic "Window Seat" thanks to the video. And those who prefer the incense-burning, tea-sipping Erykah of the '90s, can simply enjoy the song and shut out provocative visuals that are linked to it.

By Sarah Godfrey  |  March 31, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Riffs  | Tags: Erykah Badu  
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Comments

I'm sorry Sarah Godfrey, but if you think window seat is "not so much" you need to get in touch with a soul. Good luck with that one.

Posted by: farisdugraf | March 31, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The writer of this article doesn't have a clue. Did she/he see the Jimmy Fallon performance? The Roots played the hell outta this song. And I won't even mention Erykah's vocals. Smooth does not equal "ho-hum". Now if you want to criticize something, that piece of garbage desperate for publicity looking video, that "save", as the writer called it, for this song; that was what was way beneath her. @Sarah *boo*

Posted by: Bombingham | March 31, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Godfrey, u must be on crack. This song is a banging!!

Posted by: kevenjones | March 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry folks, but I still say "Window Seat" is the safest, least interesting track on "New Amerykah, Pt. 2," which is an incredible album overall. The other tracks on the album are just as smooth as the single...but they're far more electric! @Birmingham: I agree Erykah sounded great on Fallon, as did the Roots, but if they'd done "Fall In Love" or "Turn Me Away," they would've really shut it down.

Posted by: Sarah_Godfrey | April 1, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@kevinjones: I will attest that Sarah is not on crack and that "Window Seat" is the opposite of banging. It's the kind of song I want to fold laundry to.

Posted by: ChrisRichards | April 1, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Did she listen to the song? Feel the groove? Pay attention to the lyrics about love's tensions and complexities--the need to be wanted and loved and yet also the need to escape? This isn't some herbal tea sipping song that is made for the Starbucks set. Of course, it's different than the sound of the previous chapter. That was a different record with a different conceptual base. Badu goes back to a more sensual sound. Drab? Safe? Boring? This is straight out of college criticism. Moronic and tone deaf.

Posted by: MilesC1 | April 5, 2010 4:07 AM | Report abuse

For a great analysis of window seat go to www.a-lanholt.blogspot.com

Posted by: beautiwitn1447 | April 7, 2010 1:17 AM | Report abuse

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